Department for Business takes on first Government comms apprentices

The first PR apprentices to work in central government will join the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) within the next five weeks.

Hopeful Russell Grossman thinks the scheme could be extended
Hopeful Russell Grossman thinks the scheme could be extended

Three people aged between 21 and 25 have been employed on an 18-month programme helping them qualify for a BTEC Level 4 in higher public relations, on salaries of about £17,000.

They will spend 90 per cent of their time on ‘on the job’ training, consisting of six months working in each of the press office, stakeholder and events, and internal comms teams.

Russell Grossman, director of comms at BIS, said he and Alex Aiken, the executive director of government comms, agreed that PR apprenticeships should be expanded to other government departments. ‘I think it’s realistic for that to happen by the end of 2013,’ he said.

Grossman was keen for BIS to be the first to employ comms apprentices because it is the department responsible for the Government’s funding for apprenticeships, although BIS has not received money from the scheme.

‘The funding for this is part of my normal team allocation and I’ve made savings elsewhere so that we’ve been able to accommodate these apprentices,’ he said.

Creative Process, which is also the supplier for the Government-funded apprenticeship programme overseen by the PRCA, handled the advertising and will manage the training.  

There were 70 applicants from whom BIS selected 30 candidates. They were tested for writing skills and their ability to work in a group. Nine were invited for interview.

The successful applicants were Daniel Harris, Joyce Omope and Harry Wingfield.

Grossman said: ‘We may be able to find them a job at the end of the programme, but there is no guarantee.’  

The 86-strong BIS comms department is subject to a recruitment freeze, but Grossman said it would replace people if there was a good business case for doing so.

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