- 9 June 2023
Apprenticeship: Investing in the future
LIBERTY Steel UK has a long history of offering apprenticeships and setting apprentices up for life. We talked to LIBERTY Steel UK HR Director Mick Hood and asked him to highlight the main aspects of the company’s apprenticeships and the ways to turn it into a real success for the business, apprentices, and the wider economy.
– I believe that apprenticeships are crucial for businesses, as they provide a pathway for young individuals to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge required for a successful career in this field. With evolving technologies and a retiring workforce, apprenticeships ensure a sustainable talent pool, innovations, productivity, and competitiveness within the industry. Besides, we always seek different ways to cheer our apprentices, support them, and praise their achievements. This competition is a good opportunity to say ‘Thank you! We are proud of you!’ publicly.
– That’s great to hear. How do you think in what specific ways do apprenticeships benefit young people who participate in them?
– Apprenticeships benefit young people in several ways. Firstly, apprentices get practical, hands-on training that allows them to acquire valuable industry-specific skills. Apprenticeships provide them an opportunity to learn from experienced professionals, receive mentorship, and develop a strong foundation for their future careers. As a result, apprentices gain a deep understanding of their chosen field, which enhances their employability and career prospects. If apprentices are dedicated to the path they’ve chosen, their stable future is secured. Moreover, they become advocates for the apprenticeship schemes, encouraging others to follow.
Additionally, young people get the chance to earn while they learn, as they receive a salary during their training period.
With regards to the wider economy, apprenticeships help bridge a skill gap by providing a pipeline of skilled workers who have been trained in industry-specific knowledge and techniques. This ensures a steady supply of qualified individuals who can meet the industry’s demands and contribute to its growth.
– What advantages can businesses gain from implementing apprenticeship programs?
– Numerous! The main advantage is that you can develop a skilled workforce trained specifically for your operations and fill critical positions with individuals who are already familiar with the company’s processes and culture. At the same time, apprentices bring fresh perspectives, enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn, which can drive innovation and productivity within the organisation. Moreover, apprenticeships promote loyalty and retention, as individuals who have been trained within the company are more likely to stay and progress in their careers.
– Can you provide an overview of the apprenticeship program at LIBERTY Steel UK?
– We offer apprenticeships for different roles at our company. For example, recently we have recruited Materials and Electrical Engineering Degree Apprentices, Mechanical apprentices, Machinists, Sales & Marketing, Health and Safety, IT apprentices, and others. Starting in September 2023, all positions will be based in South Yorkshire. The duration of our apprenticeships varies depending on the specific program, typically lasting between one to five years.
Our aim is to develop the individuals’ theoretical and practical skills. The educational provider will deliver the initial basic practical skills and knowledge the apprentices need for further development in their chosen discipline. And these skills will be further enhanced by our team of experienced craftsmen from the Liberty Steel UK team who mentor and coach the apprentices when they come out of the centre.
– Can you provide any examples of apprentices who have made significant contributions and have progressed into senior roles? Based on LIBERTY’s example.
– There are many brilliant examples in the world where apprentices have built prosperous careers. Did you know that Henry Ford began as an apprentice machinist or British billionaire businessman Jon Cauldwell as a mechanical engineer? And of course, you know celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay who both started as apprentices in the catering industry and now run apprenticeship programs for young people. There are many good examples that prove the fact that apprenticeships can be your lucky ticket. You just need to work hard and don’t give up if you face challenges. Personally, I also started as an apprentice 45 years ago.
– As someone who was once an apprentice, could you share some of your personal experiences and lessons learned from your own journey?
– As an apprentice, I learned the value of hands-on experience and the importance of a strong work ethic. I had the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals who shared their knowledge and guided me throughout my training. This experience not only equipped me with practical skills but also instilled a lifelong dedication to continuous learning and personal development, which I carry with me in my role as an HR Director.
– How do you ensure that apprentices receive all necessary support to succeed in their roles?
– Each apprentice is assigned a mentor who guides them throughout their training period. Mentors guide them, share their knowledge and skills with them, constantly offer advice, and provide them feedback to develop their skills throughout their apprenticeship program. Regular check-ins and evaluations are conducted to assess progress and identify any additional support or training needs. Furthermore, we encourage apprentices to actively participate in team projects and collaborate with experienced professionals, fostering a culture of support and continuous learning.
– What advice would you give to other companies considering implementing or expanding their apprenticeship programs?
– My advice would be to embrace apprenticeships wholeheartedly. They are not just an investment in the future of your business but also an opportunity to shape the next generation of skilled workers. Invest in comprehensive training, establish a strong support system, and create a positive and inclusive environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and personal growth. By doing so, businesses can reap the rewards of a highly skilled workforce and contribute to the long-term success of the industry.
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