What led you to recruit apprentices from Damar?
We attended a seminar hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses on hiring apprenticeships. As former apprentices ourselves, we decided that we would like to give back to the young adults of today and hopefully give them a good start to their working life. Damar apprentices were present at the seminar and they rated their apprenticeships very highly. Being a small business, word of mouth is important to us and so we chose Damar as our apprenticeship provider.
How have your former apprentices progressed in their roles and how have you benefitted from their performance?
We were astonished at how our first two apprentices developed within just one year of working with us. On arrival, they were very shy and inexperienced with all aspects of an office life, but after their first year, they were confident and efficient at dealing with most aspects of our business from property issues such as water leaks, to arranging viewings and dealing with new clients. It was a pleasure to see such development in such a small timescale but we believe in giving full training and support to all colleagues and this bears fruition for all involved.
How has the qualification and training delivery been of benefit to the apprentices in their roles and how has this impacted on your business?
Both apprentices achieved their intermediate business administration apprenticeships within the expected time frame which has enhanced their CVs. To successfully achieve an apprenticeship, you need to demonstrate your competency in the workplace. We gave our apprentices a variety of tasks to perform so they had no trouble gathering enough work-based examples to show their competency. As for the knowledge aspects, we also allow a two-hour slot in the working week (subject to workload) so that the apprentices can achieve these modules within the working week rather than at home after a full day at work.
What advice would you give to other employers thinking about taking on an apprentice?
Do it - we have always been pleasantly surprised by the quality and enthusiasm of apprentices. Whilst your apprentices need someone within the team to be on hand to supervise them, the apprenticeship provider will be responsible for all aspects of training your apprentices. Damar trainers were always accommodating if we were short-staffed or exceptionally busy.
We felt that we had given back too. As former apprentices, we still reflect on our time as apprentices. Our employers then had a direct impact on us being able to run Stuarts today. I believe there are many ‘diamond’ apprentices out there and we have been lucky enough to find some already.
What has stood out as being ‘exceptional’ about your apprentices or ‘added real value’ to the business?
What has been lovely is the change in dynamics of the office. Young adults have brought liveliness to the team and their enthusiasm to learn inspires colleagues to evolve and get more involved.