With National Apprenticeship Week in full swing, we thought we’d take a look back over the years at our apprentices, and see just how they’ve influenced and enhanced our company.
In 2011 we had a role available on our service desk and decided we would try an apprenticeship scheme; rather than hiring a 1st line engineer. We’d been contemplating this for several months, as we were looking to give something back to our local community, and were also interested in the prospect of training from the very beginning.
Since then, we haven’t looked back. Of our 21 team – 2 are apprentices; 6 have risen from apprenticeships to full employment; meaning more than a 3rd of our staff have come to us through an apprenticeship scheme.
So why have apprenticeships worked do well for us? Here’s our 5 key tips on getting the most out of your apprentices:
Integrate them fully with their team
In our experience, apprentices flourish when they are treated as part of the team. Our apprentices are an integral part of our service desk, working alongside our qualified engineers; supporting customers and maintaining our systems.
One of our past apprentices, Jacob, said “Other people in my class complain that they are treated like kids a work. You don’t get that here; you’re given responsibility and real, important jobs to do. You feel like part of the team.”
We believe that this philosophy is the reason we have enjoyed such success with our apprentices.
The skills they learn during their apprenticeships provide them not only with the necessary technical knowledge, but a real understanding of the working world they are joining.
Don’t micromanage them
A big theme with our apprentices is being treated as adults. Our apprentices are given the opportunity to manage their own workloads, and offered whatever help they need by the rest of the team around them. They're encouraged to ask questions, and often shadow the experienced engineers to learn new skills 'on the job'.
We’ve found that allowing them to work in this way helps them to understand their roles quicker.
Don’t just focus on their apprenticeship
Rather than focussing solely on the apprentices’ core training, we try not to limit their learning solely to IT, but include them in the day to day needs of a working environment. Last year we required an additional fire marshal. We offered all our staff the opportunity for the training, and Oskar, an apprentice at the time, was chosen - and is now fully certified.
By offering the apprentices a chance to expand their training, you allow them to learn other skills that will benefit them going forwards, whilst effectively filling your company’s needs.
Your old apprentices can help!
No-one understands what your apprentices are going through better than the people who came before them. Your past apprentices are the best placed people to training, mentoring and encouraging your apprentices. Not only have they been through the apprenticeship process, but they also have the added benefit of showing your apprentices exactly what it is they can achieve through their hard work. The current apprentices look around them and see the success of the former apprentices, which helps drive them forward.
Choose a great partner
Do your research, and find the training partner that suits your business needs. As part of the decision making process involved in hiring apprentices, we had to weigh up the potential pitfall of employing an untrained, inexperienced support person. We chose to work with QA, as the apprenticeships they offered were for local young people, and specifically focussed on the IT sector.
The worries we had about hiring untrained staff has proven unfounded. QA provide exceptional core training as part of their course, and our apprentices show an enthusiastic appetite for learning.
Apprenticeships have made a huge impact on our Company; one of the unexpected benefits being the way in which their enthusiasm fuels the rest of the Service Desk, who work more productively in the positive environment created.
If you’re thinking about taking on an apprentice, do it! Just remember our tips, and you’re sure to get as much enjoyment and value from your apprentices as we have from ours!