Over the last few weeks, we have been highlighting the successes of some of our apprentices who have recently completed their End Point Assessments.
Today, we are talking to Andy Stevenson, an employer of apprentices, who has remained consistent in his communications with apprentices despite the current furlough/work-from-home set-ups and the hurdles that may arise.
Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your current role?
My name is Andy Stevenson and I have been a Premier Education Franchisee for 20 years within the Mid Bedfordshire area.
How long have you been employing apprentices?
In total, I have been employing apprentices for 5 years – previously working with CSL and now with TVS Education.
What do you consider to be the main benefits of having apprentices on your team?
In my experience, apprentices are always willing to learn and progress. They bring a different energy to the team as well as a fresh perspective and even some new ideas.
The programme my apprentices undertake is tailored to the on-the-job work that they carry out and I have been pleased with how I have been able to liaise with TVS quality and tutor teams to influence how the apprentice learner programme has been designed. As a result of this, I am expecting apprentices to think and act in the best interests of my business and its customers from day one.
How do you make sure apprentices feel as much a part of the team as a fully qualified/more senior employee?
It’s probably better to ask my employees themselves, but I’m hoping they would say that we all help, support, learn and grow together as a team. I don’t ever want my employees to be afraid to ask for help/support. I make sure this is reciprocated whether someone has been part of the team for five years or five minutes. Apprentices are an employee just like everyone else, and everyone is treated the same.
How do you motivate your apprentices to excel?
Team support and guidance is key. As some of my current employees have come through the apprenticeship scheme into full-time employment, current apprentices get first-hand experience to speak, ask for advice and get encouragement from others who have gone through this process, showing them a clear pathway to success.
You have an excellent rate of engagement with apprentices, tutors and OneFile admin. How do you organise your time to make sure tasks are carried out in a timely manner?
I can’t take the credit for this!! I have put a mentor in place, who has been through the same process, for my apprentices to liaise with daily. She checks in with them personally and via OneFile and reports back to me on a weekly basis. We then have weekly/fortnightly huddles with the TVS tutors to share ideas, support, and guidance when and where it is needed.
Do you have a stand-out moment/most rewarding moment from your time employing apprentices?
Primarily it’s when you, as the employer, get the news that your apprentice has completed their EPA (end point assessment), passed it and maybe even received a distinction, which has happened with us a few times. Seeing that all their hard work has paid off is the best reward. Seeing them grow and take on more responsibilities along with learning key areas of the business is also very rewarding.
Engagement with apprentices is crucial in terms of retention and helping them work their way to the end of their apprentices and this have never been more vital than right now.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced changes to the daily working lives of many apprentices, but due to remote learning via TWP TV, apprentices on our programmes have been able to maintain engagement, keep learning and continue on their journey to End Point Assessment at home.
It’s imperative that employers don’t subconsciously take the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach with their apprentices at this time. Liaising with apprentices and keeping them engaged is vital to keeping them ‘on programme’ and growing as an asset for your company.
It is also important as an employer of apprentices to liaise frequently with the tutor assigned to your apprentice to ensure your apprentice is progressing well and their needs are being supported.
If assigning a mentor to your apprentice, please make sure that the mentor is appropriately trained and clear on their mentoring role. Communications with the mentor must be upheld throughout the apprenticeship to ensure they are carrying out their mentoring role and supporting the apprentice to the best of their ability.
If you need help or advice on your current apprentice programme, or would like to find out more about employing your own apprentices, contact us today.