“I’m passionate about apprenticeships,” says Kristian Van Rensburg, Manager, at Stearn Glasgow, “Quite reasonably, young people ask, “how am I supposed to get experience if no one will give me a chance”. Fortunately, I’m in a position to create opportunities, and it’s working really well for this branch of Stearn.”
Stearn believe in apprentices learning the business holistically, with new starters spending a week in the warehouse, a week out with the drivers, a week in admin and a week in sales. This gives the apprentices exposure to areas of the business and opportunities that they did not necessarily know existed within electrical wholesale.
One young person who has benefited from Kristian’s enthusiastic approach to attracting fresh talent to the sector is Nicole Hall, age 22 from Glasgow. A high-flyer at school, with 8 Scottish Highers (4 As and 4 Bs) on her CV, Nicole tried university but decided it wasn’t for her.
Nicole explains how she started her career, “I’m interested in business and I was looking for an admin job and came across the apprenticeship opportunity at Stearn. I completed my Level 3 business admin apprenticeship in about 7 months, and then I was offered a permanent role. That was 4 years ago and I haven’t looked back since.
“It’s a great team here and if you are happy in your job, you do well in it,” adds Nicole, “Kristian has an open door policy, which means if you have an idea for a business improvement, he wants to hear it.
“As a young woman in a male dominated sector it is important to win customers over with my acquired knowledge and understanding of the electrical industry. This ensures they come back to you with repeat business, and that means I’m doing a good job.’
Kristian explains his open-house approach to interviewing, “Candidates come in for a trial day so they can really understand how the business works, and there are no surprises. It’s worked because a number of our former apprentices, like Nicole and Sarah, are now in permanent roles.”
“Apprenticeships are on-the-job training as well as a qualification, so the team here is clear that we are obligated to make sure we teach them the right way to do it and they develop in to valuable members of the team,” concludes Kristian.