Employability Skills – Taking on a Young Apprentice

Mark Boulting of Skills Group explains the importance of the ‘trial a trade’ scheme for both apprentices and employers.

I was going to focus this month’s column on the impending budget but, frankly, this year it would be a guess – and a depressing one at that. So instead. I will concentrate on the positive, discussing how we can still drive success whilst navigating through uncertain times.

Whilst talking to employers about the key challenges they face when hiring, the re-occurring theme seemed to be the difficulty in finding skilled staff.

The vast majority of employers are prepared to do something about this by training the next generation, equipping them with employable skills.

However, this predicament highlights a common perception that schools are not preparing their leavers on what to expect and more importantly how to behave in the world of work. Hardly surprising really with the pressure put upon schools by the multitude of government targets and funding reductions year on year.

Employers know all too well that when it comes to employing a school leaver, a one-size-fits-all approach just simply doesn’t work. Having the ability to ‘try before you buy’ for both the employer and the school leaver offers an opportunity to get it right, before committing to a longer period of employment.

The good news is, there’s a programme coming soon which offers exactly that: an opportunity for youngsters to ‘trial a trade’ for a three-month period, providing them with the employable skills employers are looking for in their specific sector.

The big difference to previous ‘pre-apprenticeship’ programmes is that now, employers can direct a young person they are interested in hiring straight to the training provider, and highlight the key employable skills they are looking for. The programme is then tailored to both the employer and the learner’s specific needs.

In the case of construction, this could be completing the CSCS test; hairdressing may require a dermatitis awareness award, and care, an enhanced DBS. These core aims are supported by a 12-week programme which covers employable skills such as the importance of attitude, timekeeping, teamwork, customer service, communication, and how to behave in complex situations.

If at the end of the programme the position available is not suitable to the young person, Skills Group can provide an alternative training opportunity for the learner. For the employer we can offer a selection of ‘work-ready’ youngsters who have completed the programme and are ready to progress into a full apprenticeship in that particular sector.

The key thing for employers to bear in mind when deciding on their employment requirements, is that matching youngsters to apprenticeship placements is not dissimilar to leaving your Christmas shopping to Christmas Eve – no one is happy with the end result and you will have likely spent too much on something the other person didn’t really want.

It’s far better to plan in advance. After all, it’s the future success of your business that is at stake, and for the young person – well, it’s their future, full-stop!

If you want to find out more about our tailored matching process and how it could benefit your business, do get in touch with us at Skills Group. In the meantime I’ll be planning my next column, maybe on how the budget will affect education, or perhaps the impact Brexit will have on skills.

If you have any education or training questions you’d like to see discussed, please send in your suggestions and I’ll try to cover it.

I always struggled in school as I wasn’t very academic, so knew learning on the job would be a better option for me. I would find it difficult to get up for 9am but now I wake up and look forward to my day. I wanted to try a hair apprenticeship as I’ve always been interested in hairdressing, and by the end of the first week, I already loved it!

Jaimee Benson, Level 2 Hairdressing

I have developed a range of new skills through work including the technical, industry skills required for the job, to personal development such as ensuring I am always on time. The biggest change since leaving school is adjusting to the independence you gain from earning a salary. My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship would be find what you like doing, and go for it!

Will Birch, Level 2 Bricklaying

Since starting the apprenticeship, I’ve become far more confident. In a classroom, you only interact with your classmates, but through working you develop your people skills as you interact with customers on a daily basis. At school, you are closely monitored and parented, however I am now more independent and feel grown up

Sam Collard, Level 2 Light Vehicle and Maintenance Repair

The most important thing I’ve learnt since leaving school is that there are other routes to success than just academia. I failed my GCSEs, as I never suited the school environment. Now though, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship as I’ve discovered I learn more through hands-on practice.

Ben Freeman, Level 2 Carpentry

I would just like to thank you and your team for all the amazing work they do, you have provided me with the most invaluable experience which has helped to pave the way of my future. The work you do for young people is incredible!

Luke Kowalski, Teaching Assistant and former apprentice at Sir Robert Gefferys School