First apprentices qualify in major step for professional selling
They are the pioneers of the sales profession - 15 young salespeople who have become the first to complete a new, nationally-recognised apprenticeship in sales. Their success leads the way for thousands more to follow.
The fifteen, who have successfully followed the Level 4 apprenticeship for sales executives, were trained by their employers and the Bauer Academy, and assessed by the Association of Professional Sales (APS) which led the way in creating the apprenticeship.
The Level 4 programme requires aspiring B2B and B2C sales professionals to meet new national benchmarks in areas including ethics, customer relations, and the use of digital sales technology. As well as their completed apprenticeship, certified by the government?s Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the 15 have also achieved a separate Level 4 sales diploma from the APS, and have the right to call themselves qualified sales executives.
There are nearly 1,000 more sales apprentices taking the Level 4 apprenticeship at the moment; and with many others due to start soon, the APS looks forward to welcoming a growing number of skilled salespeople into the profession.
Ben Turner, the chief operating officer of the APS, said: "This initiative promises to make the UK the world leader in developing its salespeople. The injection of professional sales knowledge, skills and behaviours will stand the UK economy in good stead in the challenges that lie ahead."
The APS - the non-profit, professional and awarding body for the sales industry - established the trailblazer group which agreed the course content and the standards for the 18-month programme.
Now, as the government-approved assessor, the APS has quality-assured, tested, and passed this first cohort of apprentices as qualified sales executives. Level 4 qualifications are equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate, bachelor's degree.
Bauer Media UK, which owns the Bauer Academy, was part of the apprenticeship trailblazer group which worked with the APS, industry leaders, academics and the IfA, to draw up the standard for the sales apprenticeship. The Bauer Academy then compiled their programme, based on the standard, and registered the first learners who have now achieved their apprenticeship and APS qualification.
The sales apprentices studied with senior tutor Rajni Birdi, development coach Astei Amirashayeri and their colleagues at the Bauer Academy.
Rajni commented: "We are delighted to salute the first fully-qualified sales apprentices. I know how hard they have worked, and to see them develop further, into skilled, knowledgeable salespeople is very gratifying.
"Bauer is so pleased to be part of this successful process to develop skills, knowledge and ethical behaviour across the entire sales profession and we look forward to welcoming more sales apprentices in the near future."
Frankie Bannerman, account manager for radio advertising at Bauer Media UK, is one of the first apprentices to qualify: "I thoroughly enjoyed taking on the sales executive apprenticeship. My skills and confidence grew enormously in my role as an audio account manager.
"The content of the programme was extremely interesting, covering everything from customer engagement to time management. We all had the chance to develop our skills and build our customer base.
"I'm really glad I decided to take on the apprenticeship and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a career in sales."
Ben Turner added: "Many congratulations to the hard-working apprentices who have just completed their training. This is another big step forward for the standing of the entire sales profession. It's fantastic news. I couldn't be happier.
"This has been a significant commitment for the apprentices and the companies they work for. I praise the apprentices' dedication, and their organisations for supporting them through the process."
The Bauer Academy is a government-approved apprenticeship training provider owned by, and operating inside Bauer Media, one of the world?s biggest media businesses. Bauer works with levy-paying businesses to create bespoke and flexible apprenticeship programmes. Bauer?s clients include ITV, Reach plc, Sue Ryder, Double Negative and the7stars.
 The APS is the government-approved, awarding organisation and end-point assessor for Level 4 sales qualifications, and apprenticeships regulated by two government bodies: the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and Ofqual, the exam watchdog.
Level 4 apprenticeships for sales executives are equivalent to the first year of an undergraduate degree and are for both B2B and B2C salespeople. They run for up to 18 months.
Employers are able to claim a maximum of ?6,000 for the training costs of each apprentice on this course, drawn from the apprenticeship levy which was set up by the government in April 2017.
Level 4 apprenticeships for sales executives were created as a result of committed work by the Association of Profession Sales alongside industry leaders and training providers. They received government approval in November 2018.
About the APS
The Association of Professional Sales is the non-profit, professional and awarding body for the sales industry whose mission is to build standards, education and trust in selling.
The APS has led the development of sales apprenticeships across the UK, with standards for both Level 4 and Level 6 (degree-level) apprenticeships approved in 2018. We established trailblazer groups of employers, training providers and academics, who agreed the benchmarks for the new qualifications, and won the backing of the Institute for Apprenticeships and government departments.
Apprenticeship programmes offer thousands of sales employees the chance to secure higher level qualifications while working in fulfilling jobs, without the need to pay fees.
For employers, this is a perfect opportunity to develop a new generation of skilled salespeople who can forge strong and profitable relationships with their customers.
Details of the Sales Executive apprenticeship
Further details are available on the Institute for Apprenticeship website