‘Everyone from the board down needs to appreciate the value of having apprentices in training’Feb 03, 2020
David Bevan with some of Blue Chip’s apprentices at Milton Keynes College.
“If companies are struggling to recruit skilled staff , I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t take on an apprentice.”
So says David Bevan, training and development specialist at Blue Chip in Bedford which supplies IT services and support. “Our industry suffers from the skills gap more than just about any other and we’ve found apprenticeships are a great solution.”.
This week (February 3-9) is National Apprenticeship Week and companies are being asked to consider whether they’re missing a trick by not having apprentices on their books.
“At Blue Chip we’re fortunate that more than 10% of our staff are either currently undertaking an apprenticeship or have completed one in the past,” says David. “We retain more than 85% when their apprenticeship is finished which shows just how valuable their training is to us.”
The experience at Blue Chip is that apprentices are more likely to stay with the business longer with an average length of service of an impressive ten years.
The impact goes right up to senior management. The company’s director of sales and marketing is Chris Smith who has been working there for 24 years, having started as an engineering apprentice, and who now manages and develops nine apprentices in his department.
David says finding the right provider is really important. Blue Chip works with Milton Keynes College.
“The engagement and support we receive from the college is second to none,” he says. “College staff have the same attitude towards working with customers as we do with our own.
“They’re passionate about what they do right the way through from recruitment and assessment of potential candidates, with support during the apprenticeship for the individuals concerned and for us. Communication is really good too so everyone knows where they are, day to day.”
It’s really important to have buy-in from all levels of the organisation, he adds. “Everyone from the board down needs to appreciate the value of having apprentices in training. Apprenticeships aren’t just for new employees and it’s worth considering whether it would be of benefit for any of your existing team to take one.
“It’s really encouraging for the people already in the business to see that they’re sufficiently valued to have their skills upgraded and it will make other staff think about whether they might be ready for that next step too – not to mention the added advantage of keeping staff turnover low.”
David has a message too for people who think they’re too old to start an apprenticeship. “Never think it’s too late. It’s not about age just ambition and determination.
“One of our best apprentices is someone who joined us in their 30s. They went from a career in logistics into sales and they aren’t the only ones I’ve seen use an apprenticeship as an opportunity to change career.”