The whole rationale behind newly launched Kempston Controls Apprenticeship Programme, is to provide “a robust training programme” for new entrants to the business and to ensure that they want to stay and progress. All too often, apprenticeship training is something that managers and apprentices try to “fit in” around full-time roles. We believe that the training should be a priority and it should not take second place. It makes business sense to do this, to invest in training from the outset and ensure we have high quality, informed staff.
Recruiting new talent
At the moment we use the EDA Apprenticeship Service to help us to find and recruit new apprentices. Alongside this we have started to develop a closer relationship with our local schools and colleges and hope that in the future this will be where we source our apprentices from. Our own apprentices help us to run career days; they talk about what they do and what they are learning which in turn encourages others to want to join us.
The Kempston Controls’ Apprenticeship Programme is based around the Level 2 Customer Service apprenticeship. We wanted to make use of the Trade Supplier apprenticeship but as our organisation does not have a physical trade counter we were unable to do so.
We currently have 5 apprentices on the Programme, and hope to double our intake in 2024. To ensure there is a good fit between the apprentices and our business we offer a 2-week “cooling off period” to give both parties the chance to check that this is the job and the organisation for them.
Structured Off The Job training
Following organisational induction, where the apprentice meets the Apprentice Ambassadors (departmental mentors), they start their first placement, but every day, regardless of the department, they finish work at 3pm so they can concentrate the next two hours on their learning activities such as their apprenticeship course work, EDA Product Knowledge Modules, and other training.
If they need to study English or Maths alongside their apprenticeship, they are assigned specific mentors from within the business who help to put those skills into context.
Talent spotting: a training placement in every department
Our apprentices work in every department during their training. They develop a good knowledge of our how business works, and can find out what they enjoy, and where they might work after they have finished their apprenticeship:
- 3 months in stores/warehouse
- 3 months in procurement
- 4-6 weeks doing quotations (including web chats and telephone calls)
- 3 months in technical
- 2 months in operations
- 4 days with the external sales team
They have regular meetings with line managers and Apprentice Ambassadors during their placements and an in-depth handover takes place between line managers as they move from one department to another ensuring that any specific needs or development are highlighted.
As part of their apprenticeship, they are required to complete 3 EDA Product Knowledge Modules in the first year. As an incentive to keep them learning, they are given a payment on achievement, depending on their grade – Pass, Credit, or Distinction. They are encouraged to complete more modules during the second year of their employment.
Every apprentice has access to all our manufacturer training activities, regardless of how technical that might be. For example, they recently attended a full day’s training on Industrial Safety and, whilst we know that they may not understand everything they are hearing, we want them to get used to the terminology, the products and to feel included. We plan field trips to local theme parks to see the equipment we sell in situ!
When they have completed their apprenticeship a decision as to where they start their career is made. This is based on where their skills are best suited. Learning does not stop there, however, and they are encouraged to take the next step – maybe another apprenticeship or higher-level skills such as finance.
Main photo caption left to right: Paige Bollen, Apprentice; Ashley Paley, Internal Technical Support Engineer; Lindsey Jones, Customer Orders & UK Returns Team Leader; Kieron Behan, Apprentice; Jenny Salmon, Procurement Manager; Judith Rowntree, Group HR & Training Manager; Nikki Shand. HR Assistant.
Those in the main picture that are not apprentices are apprentice ambassadors or organisers of the scheme.