3 August 2017

Arlene from UKFast and Andy Burnham

UKFast teacher Arlene chatting with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham about our commitment to apprentices.

Kids don’t stay kids for very long, do they? It’s worth remembering that in business too. I’ve talked a lot about apprenticeships recently at various events and in so many conversations. Apprenticeships seem to be the hot business trend at the moment – everyone is doing something or other for apprentices, which, of course, is fantastic.

It is so important to remember, though, that apprentices are not cheap labour. These young people won’t be that young for long. They have no bad habits from other employers, no experience of ‘how it’s always been done’ and they’re hungry to learn. Are you really going to make the most of that by having them making tea and doing admin?

No! Teach them, train them and challenge them. And, most importantly, pay them fairly for it.

Apprenticeships are a two-way street.

Young people are given the skills to thrive in the modern workplace, while employers are given a new team member who is open to learning and finding their place in your business. There really is nothing like it.

These young people come into the workplace ready to learn; they’re already in that habit from their years at school. They’re open to new challenges and ideas, and they’re bursting with energy. That energy is infectious and we’ve seen how it can transform whole teams.

We took on a huge challenge last year when Bright Futures failed. We added 50 apprentices to the team. Whilst there are 34 of those still on the team, the ones who moved on left us with new skills and were work-ready. The others are continuing to grow and develop within the UKFast team. It’s always hard to lose team members but seeing just how much those young people had developed in their time with us was extraordinarily inspiring.

Kids don’t stay kids for long

In no time at all, apprentices become invaluable members of the team.

Before we launched the apprenticeship scheme that we now have, we had a young man come in for work experience. He was 14 years old at the time. He came in, made a great impression and got stuck in wherever he could. After school he joined us as an apprentice and within a couple of years had completed the programme and was earning more than his mum and dad combined. He’s grown into an extraordinary young man with incredible technical skills and people skills to match. Hearing his parents say how UKFast had changed their lives is the best feedback I have ever had. It was quite an emotional moment.

Now we have former apprentices running departments and current apprentices transforming product lines. Ultimately, the more you invest into these young people the more that they grow and develop.

Soon we’ll be holding our annual team music festival with family and friends. It is at these events that we really see how far our youngest team members have grown. I love to see our apprentices with their families; their mums and dads, girlfriends and mates. Soon they become fiancé/fiancées and we see them bringing their own little ones along. The greatest part of leading a business is sitting back watching team-members growing up. UKFast is undeniably an extended family.



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