The 'trailblazer' level 3 apprenticeship standard for a junior journalist has replaced the level 3 advanced apprenticeship in journalism framework. Recommended for delivery over a minimum of 18 months, apprentices will take the NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism as a mandatory qualification and must complete the diploma to progress to the end-point assessment.

The end-point assessment consists of producing a work-related project and an assessment of the apprentice's qualities/behaviours. This is completed during the final six weeks of the programme. The NCTJ is an Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation (AAO) approved by the Education Skills Funding Agency to deliver the end-point assessment for this standard.

An apprenticeship as a junior journalist is aimed at those who want to develop a career in journalism by combining learning at college with on-the-job training.

It is a professional, vocational training scheme that doesn’t compromise on the exacting standards that are vital in modern newsrooms. 

Former journalism apprentice with the KM Group, Josie Hannett, has gone on to become producer of Kent Tonight, an hour-long news programme every evening on local station KMTV. Speaking to the NCTJ, she said: "The apprenticeship scheme has accelerated my career hugely and I couldn't be more grateful. I had the best experience and was given a massive opportunity and hands-on experience which helped me develop in my career. I got a gold standard NCTJ diploma which I needed for my job and the experience I got during the apprenticeship made my NCTJ lessons so much easier and relatable."

There was wide support from within the industry for the NCTJ to introduce apprenticeships to help editors recruit local people to their newsrooms and to help ensure recruits reflect the social and ethnic mix of their communities. The junior journalist scheme is also appropriate for employers wishing to recuit an apprentice to work in a press office, PR agency etc. where journalism skills are required.

An apprenticeship provides an alternative but demanding route into a competitive industry and suits those who want to earn while they learn.