Five Employers Doing Amazing Things with Apprenticeships

Five Employers Doing Amazing Things with Apprenticeships

Stories of small businesses using apprenticeships in inspiring ways that benefit everyone

By Sophie Hardwick

You may already have noticed, and there may even be one sitting at the next desk – apprentices are popping up in all sorts of workplaces, and in every sector.

Businesses, charities, social enterprises and other types of employers are cottoning on to the value apprentices can bring to a team, and the good return on investment they represent.

This National Apprenticeship Week Sophie Hardwick who heads up Apprenticemakers – the organization helping SMEs find and employ apprentices – shares the stories of 5 pioneering employers using apprenticeships in inspirational ways...

1. Snow-Camp is a London charity that is changing lives by introducing disadvantage young people to snow sports. Some of the young people Snow-Camp supports are selected to undertake apprenticeships through the charity, which equips them with qualifications and work experience within the snow sports industry even helping some achieve ski and snowboard instructor status. By making apprenticeships a central aspect of its operations, Snow-Camp is changing lives and providing opportunities that would be unobtainable for the young people otherwise.

2. Rapanui is the brainchild of Rob and Martin Drake-Knight, 2 Isle of Wight brothers who, returning from university, realized there were precious few opportunities for young people on their island. In order to live and work where they’d grown up, the pair set up an incredibly successful, fast-growing ethical clothing brand, Rapanui, which they’ve staffed almost entirely with apprentices. Older brother Rob, now 30, says:
We realized there were a lot of young people in a similar position to the one we’d been in, and decided apprenticeships were the right route. There’s a perception that you have to be a certain age to take on particular responsibilities but I think that’s a complete myth. I don’t think age matters in any way. Young people can do amazing things. Rob Martin Drake-Knight, Rapanui
3. Ginger Nut Media is a digital advertising business that loved apprenticeships so much that started a training company! The business recruited their first apprentices just over 4 years ago, and found them to be such an asset to their business that they decided to launch their own training arm, Ginger Nut Training. Today, Ginger Nut Training delivers apprenticeship programmes in marketing, business administration and customer services, for both their own pipeline of apprentices and train apprentices for other businesses too.
4. Buckinghamshire Care offers a unique apprenticeship scheme which is specifically designed to help people with a learning disabilities, mental health difficulties or autism enter homecare and community roles. The scheme not only helps the apprentices learn new skills, but it also offers additional support which enables them to live a full, productive life. Thanks to its pioneering approach, Buckinghamshire Care won the accolade of EDF Newcomer SME at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2016.
5. Jonny’s Sister is a Dorset-based online retailer selling personalized mementoes and home accessories with a £600,000 turnover. Jane Field is the name behind the operation and for a while she operated as a solo entrepreneur. As the orders began flooding in, she decided to recruit her first apprentice. This led to Jonny’s Sister’s office being managed by an exceptionally competent and dedicated 19-year-old apprentice. Jane hasn’t looked back and has now recruited a number of other apprentices. She says:
These youngsters have different ideas to mine. They bring energy to the business. They don’t come with any baggage – they’re just so fresh and they bring that infectious enthusiasm to us.

Jane Field, Jonny's Sister

These are just a few examples of small businesses achieving great things with the help of apprenticeships. Read more case studies, and find out how to begin your business’ own apprenticeships journey at www.apprenticemakers.org.uk.