By Meghan Capper, Tanvi Jaiswal, Misha Manani and Georgia Stack
For decades it has been a key narrative that attending university will allow you to access greater opportunities and receive a better quality of life. However, higher education is not the right path for everyone. Apprenticeships are another pathway after A-levels or BTEC where people have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the working world and gain experience. Apprenticeships in publishing are a great and non-traditional pathway to enter the industry.
Since 2019, there have been a growing number of publishers who do not require graduates for entry-level positions and do not view higher education as an important factor when assessing applications. LDN Apprenticeships in publishing are the first of their kind, and the first cohort started in 2019. We have interviewed Celia Kingston who is the Corporate Partnership Manager from LDN Apprenticeships to discuss the benefits, content and application process of the apprenticeships, whilst also sharing our bonus tips.
In Conversation with LDN Apprenticeships for Publishing
Apprenticeships in publishing are a fairly new and different pathway to enter the industry. What are the aims of the LDN Publishing Apprenticeship?
Entry-level roles within publishing are hard to come by and ironically often require experience. The aim of the publishing apprenticeship is to open this area via a non-academic route. The apprenticeship allows someone to connect the dots in a relatively short space of time (fifteen months) in order to fully comprehend the breadth of what is a complex industry.
Who can apply for the apprenticeships (requirements for eligibility)?
As with all apprenticeships, applicants need to be over the age of sixteen and must have lived in the UK/EEA for over three years. As an entry-level programme, we need to make sure applicants aren’t overqualified or have too much skill and knowledge within the industry already. Whilst we do accept applications from graduates, we wouldn’t be able to accept applications from candidates with degrees in or related to publishing.
The LDN Publishing Apprenticeship provides both breadth and depth of publishing. What are the main components of the course?
The course is split into five learning paths and covers a wide area within the publishing industry. These five learning paths are:
Getting to know the publishing industry
Editorial, design & production
Publishing rights and the law
Systems & digital publishing
Sales & marketing
The publishing companies you work with are Bloomsbury, Cambridge University Press and Penguin Random House UK to name a few. Why were the publishers you partner with selected?
The likes of Penguin, Bloomsbury and Cambridge University Press were a huge support during our initial cohort of apprentices. Having these large publishing houses onboard early on really helped to elevate the launch of the programme.
Since the first cohort, we have diversified the types of organisations we collaborate with. Bloomsbury and Dorling Kindersley Limited (DK) regularly support new intakes of apprentices alongside British publisher of medical journals (BMJ), Pearson, Welbeck and Quarto to name a few. We’re also pleased to be working with less traditional companies such as Aconyte Books, The Drum and, most recently, Amazon.
No matter how large or small, we ensure that every company we work with provides the opportunity for apprentices to develop the required skills and behaviours of the programme within their day-to-day roles.
What does the application process for apprenticeships in publishing consist of?
We have a strict no-CV policy here at LDN.
Due to the nature of our entry-level roles, we believe it’s tricky for a young person who has little work experience to create a CV. Instead, candidates are welcomed and screened through our carefully designed application process via the LDN Career Hub.
From here, we find out how interested candidates are in both the position and the apprenticeship to help assess those we believe are a good fit for the employer and in the most need (universal credit/claiming benefits/state educated) and prepare them for further screening.
The next stage requires a round of initial assessments in both Maths and English followed by a quick eligibility check. Once we are satisfied that the candidate is suitable for the apprenticeship, we encourage all applicants to complete a scorecard. Scorecards are a handy tool that the team at LDN uses to understand which topics candidates already know.
Once the above is complete, candidates are invited to an “LDN Prep Session” where we explain our Career Kickstarter recruitment process in more detail. This is the perfect opportunity for candidates to research the employer and become interview ready.
How are the apprenticeships supporting inclusion and accessibility in the UK publishing sector?
We have approximately 40% from ethnic minority backgrounds. 20% of our learners are also male which is currently underrepresented in publishing. In addition, 23% received free school meals and 21% have a disability or mental health and learning difficulties.
What are your top tips and advice for those hoping to apply to LDN Apprenticeships in publishing? (What can help applicants stand out in interviews, and what are the dos and don’ts.)
Take time in writing and submitting your application on the LDN Career Hub. Our most successful candidates have referred to the job description and outlined how they would tackle the key responsibilities at hand. Give examples e.g., if you say you are organised, tell us how – what software you use etc. Draw on your own experiences if you can! There are many key skills, such as oral and written communication, creativity, being proactive, organisation and showing initiative.
Don’t be shy about where you are currently working – especially if it’s part-time in retail. This gives us an insight into your work ethic and soft skills that are transferable into the apprenticeship. Your experience does not need to be in publishing because this is not a prerequisite, nor is it expected.
Don’t just tell us you love books! This is a common mistake. That’s very much a given – let us know what you think you will gain on the apprenticeship and how it will benefit you and align with your goals.
If you say you have good attention to detail, then don’t just double or triple check: quadruple check your application hasn’t got any mistakes! Always get a second or even a third person to read through your application. It is easy to miss out on our mistakes when you are the one writing. You should also take a break and read your application on another day because you come to your work with fresh eyes.
Please follow LDN Apprenticeships @LDNApprentices on Twitter, @ldnapps on Instagram and LDN Apprenticeships on LinkedIn to receive the latest updates and news. Also, feel free to contact email@example.com for more information and any questions you may have!
Bonus Advice, Tips and Resources
Apprenticeship Alumni Experiences: Eleanor Marie Rose is a publishing content creator and Marketing and PR Assistant at Bonnier Books. Eleanor started her career by completing an LDN Apprenticeship and has made an informative video about her experience that you can watch here. In addition, take a look at this article from National Apprenticeship week in 2021 which also features Hannah Goddard, Ruby Rowland and Yazmeen Akhtar to see why they applied and how it has helped them get to where they are today!
Highlight your soft skills: Do not underestimate the power of soft skills! Apprenticeships are not going to expect extensive publishing experience, so try to use as many examples of your transferable skills as possible in applications. Although you might not think stacking shelves in a part-time job is applicable to a publishing apprenticeship, the broader skills you learn through such tasks are transferable. The skills that you pick up in a retail job such as time management, project management, teamwork and customer service are all applicable to the daily duties of the publishing industry. This technique is also useful at the interview stage.
Network: Reach out to people who have completed the apprenticeship through LinkedIn and Twitter. Having a chat with previous apprentices will help you gain a better understanding of the course, the application process and expectations.
Use the STAR method: This stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result, which is great when writing your application. This is an effective and clear way of exemplifying a certain skill you have acquired and it can be used multiple times to show different responsibilities. You should spend the most time on action and result because this provides a lot of insight to employers and interviewers.
Define your goals: Take time to reflect on your future and where you would like the apprenticeship to take you. Having clear goals in mind is an excellent indication of your ambition and your motivation for applying to the apprenticeship.
Read through these resources: The first is an interview with apprentices at Bloomsbury which details their experience. The Publishers Association also has a question-and-answer section on how to become a publishing assistant apprentice.
Thank you for reading issue sixty. Join us again for issue sixty-one, where we will cover Upskilling Tips for Publishing Events.