We recently learned that British Airways will become the next UK-based airline to start offering apprenticeships for cabin crew. Earlier this year, low-cost carrier easyJet announced plans to launch a similar scheme with just 25 apprenticeships joining a one-year training course but the programme from BA is on a much larger scale – with plans for all new cabin crew to be trained under the scheme.
We reached out to British Airways for more details on the scheme which the airline describes as a “new and exciting training approach” to training its cabin crew. In a statement, BA said the apprenticeship scheme will enhance “the airline’s overall cabin crew proposition.”
You might, however, be wondering what on earth an apprenticeship is? And for that matter, how an apprenticeship scheme might differ from joining an airline with a traditional training programme which typically takes between 4-7 weeks of full-time learning?
Apprenticeships have been around for many years – they are traditionally seen as a way for younger employees to enter an industry where hands-on training is required. In the past, apprenticeships were offered for career choices like mechanics and engineers where a High School leaver could learn a trade and earn a wage at the same time.
Many employers who offer apprenticeships see good value in offering the scheme as a way into work – they get a committed worker, who’s eager to learn and typically will be paid a slightly smaller wage than fully skilled workers doing the same job.
British Airways says its offered apprenticeships for many years – at present, the airline has apprentice’s in its engineering department, as well as in customer services and even Head Office roles.
Recently though, the British government has been expanding the traditional idea of what an apprenticeship is. There’s now a concept called “employer providers” of apprenticeship schemes where businesses can design and deliver their own training programme which meets government set standards.
This is exactly what British Airways has done and in reality, it’s unlikely that the actual training new cabin crew receive will change that much at all. Explaining the changes, British Airways told us:
“The airline will continue to deliver the specialist learning it is renowned for, whilst also offering employees enhanced skills against nationally recognised professional standards.”
In a way, this is a great way for cabin crew to formally prove they’ve been trained to a high standard – when staffers leave the airline, they’ll be able to prove they’ve been trained in things such as First Aid, conflict resolution, communication and teamwork. All really handy skills to have on your CV or resume.
So what’s the advantage for British Airways? At first, we couldn’t quite work out why becoming an ’employer provider’ would benefit BA. After all, the airline has to deliver its training programme to meet strict aviation regulations and the cost of being accredited and delivering an apprenticeship can be really quite expensive.
Well, it turns out that the British government actually provides a funding scheme for any employer who runs an apprenticeship scheme. Essentially, this is a way to encourage employers to take on apprentices and give young people new skills. So what may well be happening in this case, is that taxpayers are part funding the training of BA’s new cabin crew recruits.
The exact funding formula is quite complicated but if correct, British Airways is likely to have done its sums and worked out the cost of running the scheme is at the very least equal to how much money it gets back from government funding.
In fairness, any large business which runs a large-scale training programme would be foolish not to go down a similar path but it’s interesting that this might be a key reason for offering a cabin crew apprenticeship.
British Airways is currently recruiting new cabin crew to join the airline from March 2019 onwards. Positions are available at London Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City airports. Applications have to be submitted via the official British Airways recruitment website and successful candidates will be trained to the new standard.
But you’ve got your work cut out. The airline tell’s us: “We continue to attract, train and support exceptional cabin crew and we are proud to have been awarded the SkyTrax title of UK’s Best Cabin Crew.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.