PR industry among first to launch new masters-level degree apprenticeship

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  • Business Secretary recognises work of PRCA to develop highly skilled workers
  • Agencies and in-house PRs asked to comment on new standards for apprenticeships
  • 120 apprentices taken on by PR firms in two years

The PR industry is bidding to become one of the first sectors in the country to offer new master’s-level degree apprenticeships under new reforms introduced by the Government today.

The Prime Minister today announces plans to rollout the degree apprenticeships, building on the highly successful apprenticeship programme. Industry body the PRCA has applied to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to develop the new qualification in partnership with universities, following reforms that enable employers to create apprenticeships specific to industry needs.

It is expected that the new qualification will be open to both graduate trainees and recruits who have completed a lower level apprenticeship. The 12-18 month course will enable them to gain a master’s degree in public relations at the same time as working and earning while they learn.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The apprentice agenda is not simply a numbers game, it is about quality as much as quantity. Degree apprenticeships bring together the very best of higher and vocational education, and allow apprentices to achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree, whilst training on the job. The initiative sees professional bodies such as the PRCA, universities, and employers joining forces to develop the highly skilled workers our economy needs.”

The apprenticeship will be designed to ensure apprentices can become press officers, communications managers or account managers. The costs for the degree apprenticeship will be met two-thirds by government and one-third by employers.

Accompanying the new master’s qualification will be a new standard for the existing PR apprenticeship – designed to help school leavers become junior consultants – to reflect the feedback on the first two years of the PR apprenticeship programme.

The existing apprenticeships launched in late 2012 and have seen 120 apprentices taken on in two years, according to the latest figures released by the government. [1]

Francis Ingham, Director General at the PRCA, said:

“Introducing PR apprenticeships has helped agencies and in-house teams diversify the way they recruit junior staff and grow their own talent. Since late last year the PRCA has been accredited as an official training provider, meaning we can ensure the quality of the courses apprentices in the industry take meet our own exacting standards.”

Simon Francis, Director at Claremont Social Communications has been appointed by the PRCA as chair of the industry group to develop the new standards. He commented:

“We’ve seen first hand how apprentices can become fee earning and valued members of the team from very early on in their development and how they bring a different perspective and fresh ideas to campaigns.

“The degree apprenticeship will enable our former apprentices to take their professional development to the next level and extend the benefits of an apprenticeship to the wider industry and graduate recruits.

“To ensure the next generation of PR apprenticeships are a success we need as many employers as possible to comment on the proposals.”

To help contribute to the development of the new apprenticeship frameworks, email

Agencies and in-house teams looking to take on a PR apprentice can visit


About PRCA

Who we are: Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the largest PR association in Europe, representing 18,000 people in agencies, in-house communications teams, and individuals. The PRCA promotes all aspects of public relations and internal communications work, helping teams and individuals maximise the value they deliver to clients and organisations.

What we do: The Association exists to raise standards in PR and communications, providing members with industry data, facilitating the sharing of communications best practice and creating networking opportunities.

How we do it and make a difference: All PRCA members are bound by a professional charter and codes of conduct, and benefit from exceptional training. The Association also works for the greater benefit of the industry, sharing best practice and lobbying on the industry's behalf e.g. fighting the NLA's digital licence.

Who we represent: The PRCA represents many of the major consultancies in the UK, and currently has more than 350 agency members from around the world, including the majority of the top 150 UK consultancies. We also represent over 150 in-house communications teams from multinationals, UK charities and leading UK public sector organisations.

About Claremont

Claremont tackles social issues and uses social technologies to deliver social change. The agency is the PR Week specialist consultancy of the year 2014, won PRCA Public Sector of the Year Campaign Award 2014, features in the PR Week Top 150 and holds the PRCA's Consultancy Management Standard. It takes a Social Communications approach to devising communications strategies, delivering marketing skills training and running campaigns. On a tactical level, the company specialises in doing this through social marketing, public relations, public affairs, social media and digital marketing. For more information visit