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The new PRCA Apprenticeship – Insights from the South West

The first cohort of the new apprenticeship scheme started last month and are already balancing formal training, networking, and full-time jobs. The new scheme differs from the previous in that it is more reflective of the current PR environment (the last one was created almost 10 years ago) and the curriculum is practical-led, less academic with no exams, just presentations.

Casey Turner from Aro PR and Marketing is in this first cohort and below are her thoughts and those of Aro’s MD. Mary Harris, Casey’s coach and Stephanie Umebuani, the PRCA’s Head of Apprenticeships, also give their thoughts. 

Casey Turner, apprentice:

"I initially decided to go into PR and marketing due to my passion for media studies throughout my school career. During this time, I developed a heavy interest in social media and the way the media works, leading me into this industry  

After getting real taste of the industry during my work experience at my current workplace, my interest has grown around PR and its daily tasks such as issuing press releases, phone arounds and running clients social media 

Not only did my interest grow but through working for a PR and marketing company, I have gained invaluable experience actively doing projects, campaigns and taking on my own clients. I had always planned to go to university up until a few months ago 

I retook a year of A levels and ended up doing almost three years before I realised they weren’t for me. I looked further into apprenticeships and saw the opportunities they present such as earning while you learn, getting industry experience, learning how to work as part of a team and so much more.  

University isn’t for everyone, and I quickly recognised I wouldn’t be going for many reasons including the huge debt you are left with, the enormous academic workload and no guaranteed job after receiving your degree. With an apprenticeship you don’t come out with any debt and actually earn a full-time wage while you complete it, making it a much more viable option for me. Having an apprenticeship also means you are not only supported by the college but also your colleagues to help you reach your full potential. 

I chose to do my apprenticeship at the PRCA because of its reputation and the ability to receive a globally recognised and highly regarded qualification. They also have amazing support such as getting my own coach that supports me and contributes to my professional development 

When I started with the PRCA, I was given the option to continue with their old scheme or be one of the first to do the new one. There were benefits to both, but I ultimately decided on the new scheme as I could draw on my entire portfolio that I have created during my apprenticeship and also the lack of an end point written exam.  

I didn’t complete my A levels for many reasons but one was the completely exam-based grades. With the new PRCA scheme, you don’t have to do a knowledge test at the end, instead you do an in-depth presentation which is a lot more appealing to me and is much more suited to the industry’s practical way of working."

Billy McKenna, line manager:

"My experience of the PRCA apprenticeship scheme is that it is a truly outstanding way to train people who are new to the industry very quickly, ensuring they have all the skills they need and are able to contribute to the business. 

Our last apprentice went through the old scheme and learnt all the basics of PR, social media… in fact every aspect of earned marketing communications. She is now an account manager in a larger agency focused on the automotive industry. 

When Casey came for work experience, she had a very clear plan of where she wanted to take her career, and the apprentice scheme was perfect. I was particularly interested in how the new scheme compared with the old. Because of a quirk of timing, we could choose between the two. 

It was obvious that the new programme has many advantages over the old and it didn’t take me much time to reach this point. It is much more structured and gives the opportunity to meet peers – which Casey has already done in her first formal course, ‘Introduction to PR and Communications.  

Casey is in the first cohort to start this new scheme and, a month in, her development has taken a quantum leap. This isn’t just the technical skills, important though those are, but it’s also the softer skills and her confidence is growing day-by-day.  

I would thoroughly encourage anyone looking to start a career in PR to take this scheme, and any business that needs highly skilled, committed people. It’s a win-win for everyone, not least our clients."

Mary Harris, PRCA Coach and Quality Advisor:

"The whole of the delivery team at the PRCA are excited to launch their revised Apprenticeship programmeIt retains all that was best in the original programme but will be delivered in a new and innovative way to take advantage of updates to current practice within the industry. 

Its design will closely integrate formal training delivered by professional PRCA trainers and mentoring by our highly experienced Coaches with practical experience and workplace opportunities, bringing together key stakeholders to support Apprentices at every step of their learning journey. 

Casey is at the start of an exciting journey and the skills in blending workplace development with formal training will also help to develop valuable soft skills including time management, communication and networking, which will be of benefit throughout her careerI am delighted to be joining her at the start of her journey."

Stephanie Umebuani, PRCA Head of Apprenticeships:

"As a training provider of the PR Apprenticeship for 12 years, the PRCA Apprenticeships team has borne witness to countless apprentices who have gone on to do great things in their careers.

We engage with budding communicators keen to kickstart a career in PR & communications, offering the opportunity for them to build a solid foundation through formal training and work experience. In a largely degree-heavy industry, the apprenticeship bridges the gap and equips the next generation with the practical skills and knowledge they need for a thriving PR profession. The apprenticeship allows better access to an exciting, fast-paced industry; and we take immense pride in introducing them to the diversity and opportunity that the world of PR & Comms offers.  

We are passionate about rewarding those who choose to go against the grain, favouring experience over solely theory-based learning, and supporting them in contributing to the success of real PR agencies and departments. The scheme also includes PRCA membership, opening the door for apprentices to become part of the PR community from the start.  

The revised PR & Communications apprenticeship standard reflects the current industry closer, with the inclusion of important themes and alternative pathways. We have seen time and time again through our delivery of the PR and comms apprenticeship the benefits of offering an accessible career path, and we look forward to welcoming even more trailblazers into the industry."

To find out more about PRCA Apprenticeships visit: