The 'trailblazer' apprenticeship standard for a junior journalist is an industry-designed training scheme offering a career path into journalism. It includes a recommended training period of 18 months. Apprentices complete the NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism as a mandatory qualification and must gain the diploma to progress through the 'gateway' to the end-point assessment (EPA).
The EPA consists of a work-related project and an assessment of an apprentice's qualities/behaviours. This assessment is completed during the final six weeks of the apprenticeship programme. The NCTJ is an end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) approved by the Education and 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 off-the-job learning 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.