7 December 2014

Aaron and JB exploring the HMS St Albans

Aaron and JB exploring the HMS St Albans

As a business of eccentrics who use any excuse to dress up as superheroes, you can imagine the excitement throughout the building when we were invited to a special apprenticeship event on an active battleship!

Made by Apprentices 1914-2014 was organised by the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and the National Apprenticeship Service to commemorate 100 years of apprenticeships, but it was also part of a wider picture, marking 100 years since the start of the First World War; so it was an honour to be invited along as an apprenticeship ambassador, one of a select number of employers. Not only was it an opportunity to share the way we develop and deliver our programme, it was also a chance to learn from and be inspired by other speakers from the government and the Armed Forces.

To put it into perspective, the army have about 18,000 apprentices, so they are ultimately leading the way for other businesses across Great Britain. Standing alongside them as an ambassador was a huge accolade as a business; JB, our managing director, and Aaron (Sax) our director of training and education, were thrilled to be there.

Those of you who have met Aaron will know how much energy he has. It’s more than Tigger and the energizer bunny put together, and I have to say, it’s completely contagious. After the event, he summed up the experience of being on board the HMS St Albans and said: “I’m not usually allowed in places with so many buttons and switches to press; I’m like a child in a sweet shop, wanting to press them all.” Thankfully he didn’t and the HMS St Albans is still in one piece after their visit!

The HMS St Albans chopper, thankfully still all in one piece!

The HMS St Albans chopper, thankfully still all in one piece!

There’s so much support out there for businesses looking to take on an apprentice, and there’s never been a better time to do so. I hear so many people complaining about candidates going for jobs without the knowledge or experience to meet the specific needs of their business, yet without tailored training, how likely is it that you will get the perfect person every time?

I’ve spoken about this before, but apprenticeships are incredibly beneficial; they allow you to train great people for your business so they can thrive in roles that demand a unique skillset.

It’s also worth pointing out the negative stigma often associated with apprenticeships. Some companies assume the academic level of apprentices is somehow lower than that of college graduates or that a degree is the only mark of quality. That’s absolute nonsense. In my experience, the apprentices we’ve taken on at UKFast have been full of enthusiasm with a passion to learn and develop whilst working and earning, and they’ve made a real difference to the business.

photo 7

With Nick Bowles, Minister of State for Skills

For our training and education department, being able to help our apprentices achieve qualifications that will set them up for the rest of the career is really rewarding. Personally, I really hope those careers will be with us. Guys, as long as you have the drive, I will have new challenges and responsibilities for you. For anyone who is reading this and considering an apprenticeship as an alternative to university, I would say go for it. It’s a great way of developing professional skills without the huge debt and it gets you straight onto that career pathway.

There’s no doubt, apprentices play a big role in our economy and are ultimately essential for our future success as a nation. What do you think? Is it time to end the negative stigma around apprentices? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment.

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