Young Chamber Guest Blog: What Makes a Good Apprentice?

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In this article, Katie Bodman, Head of the nationally recognised Training Academy at Superior Seals discusses what she looks for in an apprentice, and the role of employers, mentors, trainers and managers in unlocking an apprentice’s potential.  Katie writes:

I’m often asked by parents, teachers and customers: what do you look for in an apprentice?

Is it…

  • Good grades?
  • The right attitude?
  • The ability to communicate?

In truth, it’s hard to quantify what it is I exactly look for and I’ve come to realise that all the apprentices I’ve met or worked with have one thing in common, their potential.

No aptitude test, personality assessment, face to face interview or team building activity has been proven to be 100% accurate when recruiting apprentices. Potential is hard to spot but you’ll know when you see it.

I’ve been very fortunate to work with many incredible apprentices, all wonderfully different. Some have high grades, and some can communicate with anyone they meet. It’s up to the employer, mentors, trainers and managers to unlock their potential by providing opportunities where they can thrive and in turn, the apprentice seizing those opportunities with passion and enthusiasm, which will quickly be demonstrated when they find something they love to do.

A few years ago, I interviewed a student from a local school who told me that he wanted to work in sales. Adamant and determined that he was going to be our next Sales Manager, I recruited him even though there were no current opportunities within the Sales department. Superior’s apprenticeship programme offers monthly rotations in each area of the business; after spending a month in our maintenance department two and half years ago, he hasn’t left. He’s now responsible for supporting and maintaining all five factories along with the smooth running of our production machinery.

If an apprentice can demonstrate tenacity, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn about something they’ve never done before, this is a good indication they will be able to apply that potential within any area of the business, even if they apply for one opportunity and seize another.

Filling Superior with talented apprentices has seen the company grow since the opening of its training Academy in 2012. Since then, turnover has increased by 50% and many of our graduated apprentices are now acting in senior roles within the business. Our programme has also been recognised as one of the best in the UK by the National Apprenticeship Service.

Superior believes that apprentices are the best advocates for encouraging others into an apprenticeship. Sponsoring the Young Apprentice Ambassador Award at the 2018 Dorset Business Awards gave Superior the opportunity to recognise an individual who is a strong ambassador for Apprenticeships. The talent we saw during the judging process really blew us away and crowning our winner, Tilly Cuttler from JP Morgan, for her outstanding dedication to the promotion of apprenticeships was an absolute pleasure.