A recent issue I have discussed on here over the past few weeks has been for companies at all levels of our industry to take on more staff. As we all shrank to cope with lesser amounts of business during the recession, we shed staff. Now, as we are all turning it around and business is back where we’d all like it to be, we all need to take on more staff to help cope with the increase in business. But it’s not as straightforward as that as many of you will know.

You can’t just take four guys and girls on in a factory without training them. Nor can you take on a new team of salespeople without training them to your product and way of selling. It takes time to hone new people to fit nicely into your business. But as time moves on and existing staff members start to think about perhaps taking retirement, it is new blood our industry desperately needs to ensure a smooth transition between new and old team members. This is where apprentices come in very useful indeed.

There has been a big push from the Government over the last couple of years to really get young people looking at apprentices in trades, as well as companies to take on apprentices – even getting funding for doing so. For me, I see apprentices as the key for a successful and skilled future for a lot of companies.

I’ll give you an example. The service engineer we have at our place we took on from the age of 16. He was doing his apprenticeship in joinery at a local college and also working with us, trained by our old service engineer as part of his on the job training. We’d known him for year and knew he was very able at this sort of thing. He’d always be tinkering around with things, fixing, tweaking etc, so we knew he’d probably make a good joiner. Anyway, a couple of years passed and he achieved his qualification with flying colours. He is going to be 26 in a couple of weeks, so will have been working with us for 10 years already. But, thee feedback we get from our customers has been 100% positive and he’s been one of the best, if not best members of staff we have ever had. The great thing is, at just 26 years of age, we have him (assuming he still wants to work for us!) for a long time to come.

And that there is the key with apprentices. Get them young, train them well and to your standards, and they provide you with a fantastic long term service with almost guaranteed customer praise for them and your company.

We have to be honest with ourselves and understand that we have an ageing population within the industry and that we have to be investing in new, younger people to help transition our businesses.

What are your experiences of apprentices? Have you taken some on recently? All comments welcome in the section below.