What does 13 years of National Apprenticeship Week mean to Blue Chip?
Blue Chip was formed with a passion to deliver a great experience to our customers, to partner with them and support them. The way we achieve this is by recruiting and developing talent in-house. We believe in creating a culture where people can grow. Blue Chip is somewhere that each person can play an integral role to the business and add value.
One of the ways we do this is through the apprenticeship scheme. While some businesses may think of apprenticeships in the office space or corporate world to be a relatively new thing. Blue Chip’s history of apprenticeships goes a lot further back, to the days of the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) launched in 1983.
There are two generalisations people make with apprenticeships. They are mainly focused towards trade-based roles and they attract younger people who have recently completed their GCSEs or A-levels. Historically, you may have been right in that assumption and initially we started hiring apprentices into our workshop area, who embraced manual work with tools to fix computers. They would then develop a speciality in engineering until eventually progressing into field engineers.
We focus on identifying areas of growth that will impact the business. No longer do we hire trades people but have apprentices in all teams across the business from engineering to sales, facilities management to finance and desktop support to marketing.
A career journey with hands-on support
Our training programme for these apprentices is more in depth than ever before, featuring these cornerstones:
- A personalised 3-month onboarding process
- Dedicated mentor support from the Learning and Development team
- A buddy system in place for the teams our apprentices work in
In addition to that, we also offer extra support and learning with in-house workshops and eLearning opportunities focus on digital literacy skills such as Excel and PowerPoint, and core people skills such as communication and time and energy management.
A key year for us was 2018, because we also had our first female engineering apprentice enter into the business, who quickly picked up the reigns and brought her studies to a close to become a trainee. She now helps younger apprentices and has been a great addition to the team!
Establishing a great future for all apprentices
The exciting thing now is looking at what’s ahead. With a passion for growing internal talent there is the question of using the levy pot for leadership training and upskilling current staff. A common misconception is that an apprentice means extra headcount which can have other commercial implications, but it doesn’t have to mean this. Apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes. We have some great partnerships with companies like Pareto Law and Milton Keynes College, who have proven to be great at helping develop our staff.
This year, we are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2020 and are excited with what we have planned. With a passion for the initiative, we have testimonials from people across the business who will share their experience of what an apprenticeship can be like and their Blue Chip journey as an apprentice. In addition, we are working with our local provider, Milton Keynes College, to share our experience with other employers in the area and help shape their initiative to promote apprenticeship opportunities in the area.
While our next intake of apprenticeships is still being firmed up, what I do know and am excited about is the continued passion of investing in new talent and working for a business that is passionate about people.