24 May 2017

From Apprentice to Executive Series: meeting with Peter Marples one of the most influential people in apprenticeships

Peter Marples is one of the most influential people in further education and apprenticeship training. He is a big ambassador of apprenticeships and a real example of huge success achieved via the Apprenticeship route, it is an apprenticeship that started Peter off and now he is the head of 3AAA (Aspire Achieve Advance) and therefore an ideal individual for our video series: “From Apprentice to Executive”.

However, the man who use to help his mum and Dad run their village post office in the Derbyshire Peak District should not be here. In May 2007, Peter should have been in a helicopter with his close colleague and friend Phil Carter of the training provider Carter and Carter with which Peter’s business Assa had merged.

But in this great game called life; God’s will, Lady Luck, call it what you will, was on the side of Peter and he was not on the flight that killed Phil Carter and his 17-year-old son Andrew.

After coming out of early retirement which only lasted a few weeks, Peter has gone on to be the founder of the highly successful training provider 3AAA (Aspire Achieve Advance) along with Di McEvoy-Robinson, a former principal of West Nottinghamshire College.

It has achieved significant success and expansion including an Outstanding Ofsted report, creating 40 training centres called academies nationwide and is now one of the largest apprenticeship providers in the country employing over 500 staff itself.

Peter’s early days:

As a child in a family that ran a Post Office, Peter Marples was used to handling money at an early age and it seemed a natural step for him at the time to take an accountancy apprenticeship with Derbyshire County Council at the age of 16.

After this he joined the Audit Commission. This led to him being head hunted by KPMG where he ran the education section advising the Department for Education and the former Further Education Funding Council. It was only following this that he went into a business career that has seen a lot of success.

Peter Marples made news initially when he led a consortium to buy ‘his’ football team, Derby County, after the club went into administration.

In one way it was a great success because ‘the Rams’ returned to the Premier League but in others ways it did not work.
The problem was that he had thought running a football club would be like running a business but it did not work out that way.
“It was probably the craziest thing I have done,” he said.
“It’s one of those things that you get caught up in the emotion of buying the club you support and when you get into it you realise it is not what it seems.”

However, if running a football club did not work out entirely as he might have been hoped, there is no question that Peter Marples plays in the Premier League when it comes to being a successful apprenticeship provider.

This is not a man to make his private life public but it is known that a passion for cars led to him making a £75,000 donation to BBC ‘Children in Need’ in order to drive Ferraris belonging to DJ and television personality Chris Evans.

Face to Face

In my meeting with Peter at his head office in the heart of Derby we spoke about a number of topics including his core beliefs, his leaderships style, building teams creating a business culture and growing a business as well as the changing landscape including the apprenticeship levy. Peter said “I was never motivated by money” and “I am very passionate about apprenticeships” these are the formulas to making a business successful and it is why Peter’s 3AAA is very successful and as he jokingly said 3AAA’s success also comes because “being in the top of the alphabet is a huge advantage”

To add, speaking about the new levy Peter says “the levy is here to stay” and that “the levy is going to be transformational” Peter believes that the new levy is a new change for the apprenticeship world and it’s not going anywhere.

Since, Peter himself started as an apprentice I asked if he has any advice to give any younger people who are thinking about doing an apprenticeship. He replies by saying “I would advise 14-15 year olds to start early, start going to career fairs or even providers like ourselves”. And with regards with making choices in a business perspective, Peter believes that “if your going to make fish and chips be the best at making fish and chips”

To say the least, it was a pleasure meeting and interviewing Peter and it is no wonder why 3AAA and Peter are thriving in success because Peter has a mind of a true entrepreneur and a real passion for the work he does.

Connect with Peter here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peter-marples-4a413317

Thank you to all the team at 3AAA and Peter for taking time out to support our promotion of Apprenticeships via the “from Apprentice to Executive” video series.

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