25 September 2017

Arlene from UKFast and Andy Burnham

UKFast Director of People Development Arlene chatting with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham about our commitment to apprentices.

Albert Einstein once reportedly said that “education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think”.

Being open to learning is one of the most important parts of being successful. Not only in learning from your mistakes, but in actively seeking out new information and lessons.

As entrepreneurs, we don’t take anything at face value. It’s a common trait. We ask: ‘why do you do that that way, when you could do it this way? Why not solve this problem with this solution?’ We’re problem solvers and are constantly seeking new ideas and ways of working.

This is a culture that we encourage here at UKFast. Our training and education department drives the team to take new exams, learn new skills and improve their knowledge. I learned a few years ago that development is a far greater motivator than money. When you’re learning, you’re growing.

Soft skills are essential too

I see this on the biggest scale in the apprentices here at UKFast. They’re like sponges absorbing every new experience, fact, and idea! The rate at which they develop is truly remarkable. Ten new young recruits joined our apprenticeship programme last month. These 10 kids are already transforming and taking on the world of work admirably. Whilst UKFast is, of course, not a usual office environment – with our slide, crèche, games room and everything else – it is extraordinarily supportive and professional.

I am always incredibly proud to see how the whole team comes together to teach new starters not only the technical skills that they need to progress, but the softer skills too. These people skills and ways to behave are the most important thing for young people to learn. We should never overlook the importance of soft skills – how to build relationships within the business, for example.

We’ve had an apprenticeship scheme for many years, led by our amazing team of ex school teachers. To see each year’s apprentices move through their journey with us has been a privilege. We have the first team now leading departments, running their own areas of the business and creating new product lines. They develop faster than any other team in the business and are more open to new ideas and theories.

There’s a danger of losing that ability to absorb information as we get older. To think that we know best. We’ve all heard the adage ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. But why? In nature, you’re either growing or you’re dying. Do you choose to learn and grow, or stop learning and give up? It’s a clear choice!


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