Find the perfect apprentice

Morgana Evans with Paul Brewster at the Chamber Ball

Morgana Evans with Paul Brewster at the Chamber Ball - Credit: Archant

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week is almost upon us (March 3-7) , so what better time to find out how an apprentice can help your business?

The Chamber has always promoted businesses taking on an apprentice, but we took the plunge ourselves to recruit Morgana Evans in August with support from Oaklands College.

Morgana works for us and two other businesses in the STANTA Business centre so is shared between the three firms, gaining a wealth of experience with very different types of businesses.

Morgana, who went to Marlborough School and lives locally, very quickly became part of the Chamber team. We specified our requirements and the college screened candidates for us to save time. We chose very well from a shortlist as our young person has been such a great help to us pretty much from the start!

I asked Morgana how she thinks she’s progressing: “It’s going really well and I love it. I have recommended apprenticeships to lots of people my age who feel they are in a dead-end job. I feel like I am continuously progressing and learning new skills whilst working towards my qualification in Business Administration in a work environment.

“I have already had so many practical experiences, learning to multi-skill and take ownership of tasks, I’ve been out networking and have met a lot of inspiring business people. The college is always in the background to offer support with the admin side of things so this is something my employers don’t need to be bothered with.”

We have been trying to encourage other Chamber members to engage with the apprenticeship scheme, and one firm who has also had a very positive experience is Rayner Essex LLP - an independently owned, medium sized firm of chartered accountants with 70 people working in their St Albans offices.

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Partner Antony Federer said: “As with most professional service firms ours is only as good as the people who work within our team. The quality of our staff is inextricably linked to the high level of service that we seek to provide to our clients. It is therefore imperative that we recruit and retain quality staff to deliver the range of services that we offer.

“Recruiting new members of staff at a junior level has always been challenging. Our graduate training programme is a route into the firm that attracts high calibre candidates but if we are to offer a competitive well balanced service we must also employ and train younger people, ideally straight from school or college.

“In 2012 we took the decision to recruit an apprentice under the government-backed apprentice programme. Two years later we have just taken on our fourth apprentice and we believe that the scheme has been a great success for Rayner Essex and the apprentices. It has enabled us to provide young people with the opportunity to gain practical skills and qualifications whilst being paid from the very start. The knowledge and experience they develop provides them with a great platform to launch their careers.

“The Oaklands apprenticeship programme works well with the needs of the firm, it is structured and designed to prepare individuals technically with one day a week classroom instruction and on-the-job training under the supervision of our own experienced staff. The apprentice scheme supports the ethos and culture within our firm where developing people through training, assists them in reaching their full potential.

“Our first apprentice has now been offered fulltime employment and the opportunity to continue to studying. I would certainly encourage young people and local employers to consider the scheme as the merits are plentiful.”

If you would like further information about the apprenticeship schemes locally and details about grants available to employers please contact Mark Collins at Oaklands College on or 01727 737339.

Keep an eye out for details of our Community Business Awards 2014 which we will be announcing next month. There is a category for Young Person of the Year, so if you have been working any young people who you think have gone the extra mile, we will want to hear from you in due course.

We welcome the following new businesses to the Chamber: Herts County Show, Wellshine, On Point Executive Search, Golden Giving, Lawtons Solicitors, Pebble Ltd. We look forward to working with them in the future and helping them raise their business profile in the area.