National Apprenticeship Week 2019

Date: Wednesday March 6, 2019 at 11:57am

Marking the launch of the 12th  National Apprenticeship Week 2019 team members from British Forces Resettlement Services share their experiences.

Harry Dean, CEO of BFRS, gives us a perspective from an employer point of view.

"Over the years with various businesses I have probably engaged 11 apprentices and whilst in the early days I was responding to external influence to use ‘cheap labour’, since becoming a social enterprise my motivation to use apprentices is different."

That said, important factors to be considered when recruiting an apprentice, have always included: Appearance, Academic ability,  Communication skills and Attitude.

"I am now more of the opinion that using an apprentice is two way, the apprentice must demonstrate the basic potential to contribute to the business and help improve productivity and eventually progress within the organisation beyond basic apprentice."

"On the other hand, many school leavers, when ‘job searching’ will be at a severe disadvantage, especially if their grades are low, but often when you look deeper, they all have something to offer, well many do and if handled properly will prove to be an asset."

An organisation needs to be prepared to work with the apprentice and develop them, evidence for NVQ modules needs to be meaningful and relevant to their role in the organisation,. Too often apprentices are neglected by hard pressed managers and are used for boring mundane work, it is also the responsibility of an organisation who take on an apprentice to vary the work and manage their daily work programme.  

"We have been guilty of giving responsibility above ability without proper training, this is negligent management and I have had to intervene, so when you employ an apprentice it is important to train your management and staff on ‘employing an apprentice.’"

BFRS have had some good apprentices in the past, who have been taken on as full time employees beyond their apprenticeships and who have made significant contribution to our organisation. 

"I would recommend using an apprentice to any organisation, but only if they are prepared to put the effort in as an employer"

Currently BFRS employ two young people who have gone on to complete their apprenticeships and a further two who are working towards their Level 2 Business and Administration apprenticeship. Alisha and Natasha give us a perspective from an employee point of view.


What prompted you to take the apprentice route?

A: "I was always better at learning by working and doing something hands-on, I studied at college for a year but released it wasn’t for me. When BFRS offered me an apprenticeship I didn’t know much about them, but I knew it would prepare me for the real world much quicker."

N: "I started off doing a supported internship at Cadent Gas also known as Employability. ​The Employability program really helped me gain knowledge of the working world. I knew I wanted to carry on learning and progressing, so I saw the apprentice job advert to BFRS and knew straight away that’s what I wanted to do. Not only do I learn new things every day, I also love my job!"  

What apprenticeship are you taking and how is that structured?

A: "I have taken 2 apprenticeships since working at BFRS, I started with a Level 3 in Social Media and Digital Marketing and once I graduated from that I started a Level 3 Business and Administration which I finished January 2019. When I was studying the Level 3 in Social Media and Digital Marketing I had to travel to Leicester at least once a month for training days and to complete written based course work, then the rest of the coursework is done in the office. When I studied the Level 3 in Business and Administration it was all office based and my tutor would come in and see me every 2 weeks."

N: "I am currently half way through doing the Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration but looking to progress onto level 3 after. My learning is coursework based with some basic tests in English and Maths. I also have a external tutor who comes into the office to observe my work."

What do you like best about the apprenticeship?

A: "It prepares you for the real world. I got used to working, paying for myself and being an adult pretty quickly. So when all my friends were at college or university and having summer holidays, I was working and earning my own money. Also, as I have been with BFRS for 3 years this year, it shows the company how committed I am and I am growing with the company."

N: "Gaining knowledge and tips to help me progress in my work. To then use that information from my study and take it into day to day work. Learning is progressing!"


What do you find most challenging?

A: "When I first started my apprenticeship, I struggled with getting used to the early morning and working life as I was used to the easy college life. I felt like I was constantly missing out on a lot as my friends would have the summer off and I would be working. But at the end of the day I was making money and it was worth it all in the end."

N: "Sometimes the course work and essays can be challenging but my tutor is super helpful."

Would you recommend an apprentice ship to others and why?

A: 100%!! Apprenticeship are a great way of introducing you to the big wide world, you are gaining the same qualifications as you would in college but you are also gaining the experience as well. If you do well, you will have the opportunity to do higher level apprenticeships and maybe even a permeant job opportunity with the company after!"

N: "I would defiantly recommend an apprenticeship, you learn every day and you gain a recognised qualification after to add to your portfolio and CV."​

What do you hope to achieve next?

A: "​I have completed my apprenticeship. I am now looking at concentrating on my work within the office. But hoping to do a Level 4 apprenticeship in Social Media and Digital Marketing in the future."

N: "To keep learning, progressing and working hard! I hope to progress to a Level 3.


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