Soar online a digital marketing agency in Birmingham

How in-work training can create a strong and diverse workforce

Alex Butler, Soar Online (Eventmasters Group)
Aston University Graduate (2018)

There are two ways to ensure that everyone a business hires is capable of the role.  The first way to ensure high standards is the most common – academic and other training qualifications.  It’s quick and easy, and almost always guaranteed to get some of the best people with each round of hiring.

It’s often assumed by employers that best practice is to hire people with industry-specific qualifications – hiring a welder to weld makes sense.

The other method of ensuring your workforce is high-quality is gaining traction in business circles.

In-work training of core industry skills is increasingly being utilised by cross-industry leaders.  Recruitment and training experts consider it a highly effective way to ensure all employees are skilled and trained to the same benchmark standards.

For a while, training on the job was unfashionable – it seemed old-hat and redundant.  But that is not the case in the modern employment marketplace.

This summer, I graduated from Aston University – my degree is in Politics.  Soar Online, part of the Eventmasters Group, hired me as a Junior Content and SEO Executive – two very different industries.

Why did they hire me?  Let me explain.

The skills involved in the political sector (both public and private) are similar to those in marketing in many ways.  Concepts with great crossover include maintaining a good public image, diplomacy and high level competition, and the endless (but often invisible) work to keep things current.

Perhaps most importantly to areas in both industries is the ability to persuade.  To convince and influence at a high level means success for both Marketers and Politicians alike.

The skills I was provided with at Aston University allowed me to flourish in any environment – including ones I hadn’t trained specifically for.  The skills I learnt apply to many industries, and opened doors to any industry I wished to enter.

Not only did I have the right transferable skills to attain the job, I was able to demonstrate them in the interview in order to secure employment barely a month after graduating from Aston University.

I was delighted to get the role.  Competition was tight and many of my colleagues at Soar had much more specific industry experience before being hired.  I’m proud to be considered an asset of a business with so many skilled employees.

So what next?  The company had hired an Aston politics graduate, but needed a marketer.  No amount of transferable skills can be a perfect substitute.

This is where in-work training was used to great effect.  I wasn’t the only fresh face in the office to not have marketing experience – and Soar Online knew what they were doing here.  Their use of in-work training has made me realise just how effective it can be.

For a start, converting the skills I learnt at Aston University took almost no time at all.  Once I’d had the foundations laid down during my degree, there was little more for Soar Online to do.

The fact that training was so quick was in part down to my past experiences at university, and in part down to the effectiveness of in-work training to build upon pre-existing skills.

The in-house training here has been greatly effective.

Concepts I was previously unaware of I now feel comfortable using on my own areas of our keys sites.  Many are now second nature to me.  I found this training in-work to compliment the foundation built at university.

So, I did some reading –

What I’ve found over and over again are people with similar experiences to us here at Soar Online.  Time after time, employers are finding in-work training which builds on existing strengths can be a very effective method of ensuring new recruits are capable.

While someone with experience in “industry specific” training might have more detailed ideas about their new job, they aren’t always the right person to hire.  Very often, the person who otherwise seems ‘right’ has little industry knowledge – but they have insight into the more general concepts and the right attributes to succeed in the company.

Having a degree from Aston University expanded my career opportunities beyond what I expected.  Especially after graduate workplace training at Soar Online, I now feel confident to enter any field of work I want to.


Alex graduated from Aston University in 2018, and is now working at Birmingham SEO agency SoarOnline.

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