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Spotlight on Swatpro training partner: Working Knowledge


In the early 2000s, Dr James Lott was reflecting on a talk he had given to students at his alma mater, Nottingham University. James was already working in training, but after meeting post-graduate students he had an epiphany.

“I realised that a great many young people spent years in education, but still had no clear idea of what career path to follow, or how to gain employment,” he remembers.

The realisation led to James setting up Working Knowledge, a social enterprise specialising in working with the higher and further education sector to introduce young people to prospective employers. To date, Working Knowledge has helped 30,000 young people find jobs and training.

“It is tremendously fulfilling,” says James, “I feel it’s a real mission to allow talent to blossom, to help ambitious and growing companies find the right people that will help them – and the people they recruit – thrive.”

Working Knowledge works across the UK with big business as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, but it was talking with the firm’s smaller clients that James realised that there was a very specific knowledge gap that wasn’t being addressed.

“Companies seem to have grasped that there was a need to ‘do digital marketing’ but within the organisations there was often no one person dedicated to the job – time was not given to thinking through what was the overall message that they wanted to impart.

“Digital marketing was done with a scattergun method, perhaps using different platforms, but with no joined-up ethos, no holistic approach, these campaigns were missing their mark,” he notes. James’s answer was to licence Watertight Marketing methodology from marketing professional Bryony Thomas and match it to an apprenticeship standard to create a really practical and business-focused Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship.

The core principles used in the apprenticeship are drawn from Bryony’s book, Watertight Marketing, a best-seller whose message has been applied in more than 2,000 British businesses. But the team needed to bring in one more set of experts to help them set up and run their programme – the Swatpro partnership.

Working Knowledge keeps its training offer highly focused and targeted, taking 40 apprentices a year through the Digital Marketing Apprenticeship. Speaking of the benefits Working Knowledge derive from being part of Swatpro, James enthuses:

“They have been simply invaluable. We hadn’t run an apprenticeship before and were coming into it fresh. The Swatpro team had tons of experience in the field, helped us and continued to help us.

“It’s an ongoing thing, I find their meetings great, very useful to see what our peers are doing, and to benefit from their continued advice and overview of the training sector.”

There is no typical student though - they currently range in age from 18 to 47, with some being existing employees or managers up-skilling, others new graduates and school-leavers beginning their marketing careers.

While Working Knowledge and its consultants are Bristol-based, the training is largely virtual with frequent one-to-one webinars, backed up with site visits and monthly group meetups (masterclasses): apprentices work all over England, although the bulk are based in the southern counties.

“Our clients are growing, ambitious businesses who want to make the most of the opportunities digital marketing and can offer apprentices a worthwhile career,” James says.

“Apprentices develop projects and campaigns under the guidance of our experienced practitioners,” he adds.“It means, we are in effect offering firms bespoke consultancy in this area, while we train their staff to enact best practice.”

“Our clients are growing, ambitious businesses who want to make the most of the opportunities digital marketing and can offer apprentices a worthwhile career,” James says.

“Apprentices develop projects and campaigns under the guidance of our experienced practitioners,” he adds.

“It means, we are in effect offering firms bespoke consultancy in this area, while we train their staff to enact best practice.”

“Good practice comes from good teamwork. I have a great team working with me, and we have the framework from the great team at Swatpro to support us. It’s a win-win!”

Spotlight on Swatpro training partner: Working Knowledge