Paul Dorrington, Operations Manager for our Water business unit, currently has six apprentices gaining valuable experience and building their skills within his team.
Paul shares his experience from a management perspective, in the hope of inspiring others to explore the mutual benefits that come from apprenticeship training.
What are the key things to consider for managers thinking about hiring apprentices?
Be patient. You’ll be asked a lot of questions and you need to make sure you give them the time to be able to answer them. Remember this is on the job training so while the colleges do a lot of the work, you’ll need to be on hand to support them in their day to day role.
The days of sending apprentices to the wholesalers to go and get some ‘sky hooks’ are gone too as today’s apprentice’s want and deserve more!
Why did you choose to have a number of apprentices in your team?
We recognise the national skills shortage in the industry with nmcn identifying this as a serious issue in the future. Locally we have struggled to employ experienced trades, so by offering apprenticeships it’s helping us to tackle problems in the short term and also the long term by allowing us to bring in a new wave of people into the industry that we can mould and retain.
What has been your experience of managing apprentices?
It’s been fun, it really has! I started my career as an apprentice Electrician and to be surrounded by apprentices now it takes me back to when I started my journey.
How do you ensure that apprentices feel supported and are making the most of their experience?
In Plymouth, we have just appointed an existing member of staff as an apprentice mentor. This role will be a liaison between the apprentice, line manager and the college. This means we can fully support the apprentices to make sure we can continually offer a first class apprenticeship.
Once your apprentices have completed their training, do you wish to hire more apprentices, and is this part of your ongoing strategy?
Our aim is to keep bringing in new apprentices each year so that we can keep a continuous flow of new people that can progress into further roles within nmcn. My first apprentice is now in the role as an Electrical Design Engineer and is in his final year of his HNC, with another due to start hers in September.
Another employee who recently qualified is also moving into a Production Engineer role within our workshop.
Do the apprentices work well together and are there any benefits to having a number of them within the same team?
They support each other not just with their studies but in the workplace too. We have a real sense of team spirit with all the apprentices and it’s a real pleasure to be apart of.
What have your apprentices added to the workplace?
We’ve created a progressive learning environment where no two days are the same. As a business, we are using more of the latest technologies and in this digital world the modern apprentice not only embraces this but also leads it.
What has been your biggest highlight in managing apprentices?
We employed one apprentice who had already started an apprenticeship with another company. He wasn’t getting the support required and when we took him on we made the decision to start his apprenticeship from scratch. Four years later, a folder full of certificates, a big smile on his face and him saying that he’s now a qualified Electrician tells you that it is all worthwhile. I get a lot of pride in seeing our apprentices develop, I have less hair but a lot of pride!
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