08 March 2018 | Anna West
Anna West, HR manager at MCP Property Services, says we should think differently about the value of apprenticeship schemes for long-term business gain.
It's National Apprenticeship Week, a campaign to be commended on encouraging more apprentices into industry. It helps to raise awareness of the types of schemes on offer, assisting school leavers in particular to decide on the next best step for their career.
Apprenticeship schemes within facilities management and related labour sectors still suffer from the stigma of seeing apprentices as another pair of hands to do minor tasks such as photocopying, making tea or moving materials. I still hear horror stories of young apprentices being treated unfairly by other employers.
Apprentices can make significant and positive impacts on business. They bring fresh ideas and energy that help foster innovation, improve staff morale and, ultimately, increase the bottom line.
But to embrace the value of apprentices, industry needs to see them as long-term investments and strategic assets, not just short-sighted tick-box exercises for CSR purposes.
Apprentices are our future team leaders, supervisors and directors. They are the next generation of our workforce. Many apprentices start to develop their careers during an apprenticeship and it benefits employers to keep such new experience, skills and knowledge within the company.
Aspiring apprentices are looking for opportunities to earn money, learn new skills in a supportive environment, and find job security.
Bucking an industry trend, we make a commitment to them: if they work hard and continue to learn, they have a job for life. This removes the agonising wait most apprentices endure to find out whether they have done enough to get a job at the end of their scheme.
Paying more than the £3.70 per hour minimum wage and investing in their training and development are ways to demonstrate commitment to apprentices, but what they value most is a supportive working environment in which to develop.
By communicating with apprentices - we do this in our 'Breakfast with Matt' sessions in which the managing director has informal and confidential chats with them - we can understand the highlights, frustrations, challenges and ideas apprentices and other team members face in their daily tasks.
With these insights, we can build a culture of opportunity, understanding and innovation by rewarding people for doing the right thing.
Anna West is HR manager at MCP Property Services
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