0 Apprenticeships | 17 Companies

Hiring a craft apprentice?

Why should I employ an apprentice?

  • You are investing in succession. Apprenticeships provide you with the skilled workers you need to ensure the longevity of your company, combatting the worry of having a workforce nearing retirement age.
  • Teaching an apprentice enables senior skilled people to pass on their own knowledge, ensuring that the wealth of their experience is not lost.
  • Apprentices are trained your way; in line with your ethos, safeguarding the traditions and uniqueness of your company.
  • Apprentices increase productivity. Apprentices are eager, motivated, flexible and loyal to the company investing in them.
  • Remember, an apprentice is with you because they want to be, they have made an active choice to learn on the job, committing themselves to that specific career.
  • Due to regular and close contact with the master craftsperson, apprenticeships deliver a comprehensive education which instils the values of excellence and quality. “One of the most rewarding aspects of starting Mourne Textiles again for me is the fact that I have been learning skills that you can’t find in text books and that need to be learnt by direct contact with a master craftsman. As someone pointed out when I was showing them all the processes involved in weaving a length of cloth – ‘It’s all about the little things’ – I liked this way of looking at it.” Mario Sierra, Mourne Textiles.
  • Craft apprentices are closely monitored and supported, ensuring that any challenges can be quickly resolved. By making an apprentice feel like he/she is an integral part to the company, you will ensure that retention rates remain high.

Testimonials of companies who have employed craft apprentices:

Luxury made-to-measure footwear, John Lobb Ltd.

Photography by Tom BunningFor the past century and a half the Lobb family have crafted some of the world’s finest footwear.
John Lobb Ltd. was a pilot company in QEST’s Apprenticeship Scheme, taking on two apprentices with the help of QEST funding.

“Quite simply companies have no choice but to invest in apprentices. You are preserving your company for the next generation.” You are investing in succession.
Learning a skilled craft takes many years. Apprentices learn by seeing and by doing. They inevitably make mistakes, and learn from them.

QEST John Lobb Apprentice, Parham Alizadeh started off as a complete novice. Within a year the company was already seeing a return on their investment as Parham was making mock-ups for customers. Parham hugely benefited from the first-hand nature of the apprenticeship, enabling him to hone his skills quickly and become an invaluable member of the team.

Bespoke Tailors, Anderson & Sheppard

craft-61John Hitchcock, retired Director of Anderson & Sheppard, is an enthusiastic advocate for apprentices, maybe because he once was one.

John started off as a complete beginner in the workshop at the age of 16. He painstakingly dedicated himself to his trade, and in 1983 was rewarded by his appointment as company Director.

Anderson & Sheppard purposefully choose to employ apprentices without any previous training to ensure the legacy of their bespoke “Anderson & Sheppard way”.

It is this investment in a steady stream of apprentices, coupled with their unfaltering loyalty, which has helped sustain the original elegance and the unique style of the company.

How do I find a skilled-trade apprentice to employ?

  1. Register and create a company profile on this website.
  2. Post the skilled-trade job opportunity you wish to fill.
  3. This job will appear on the “Live Apprentices” board until the closing date of the application.
  4. Your company profile will remain on the website in case you wish to post further job opportunities at a later date.
  5. Your company and job opportunity will be approved by the QEST team before it goes live.
  6. Potential apprentice applicants will apply to your job, applicants who demonstrate the appropriate skills and experience you have outlined.
  7. They will be supported throughout the application process to ensure the individual meets your requirements.
  8. Your company will receive the apprentice candidate’s application.
  9. You would then conduct your usual job assessment process.
  10. Registering to this website does not commit you to employing an apprentice; employment is completely at your discretion.

Who are the young people who will be applying for these apprenticeships?

QEST has partnered with a select few charities across the UK to create a pool of suitable apprenticeship candidates, individuals who are 16-25 year olds, some of whom may come from disadvantaged backgrounds, but who are keen, reliable and committed long-term.

These apprentices:

  • Have been trained and assessed in life skills needed to succeed in the work place e.g. communication, professionalism, initiative, planning, self-awareness and resilience.
  • Are closely vetted for each job opportunity. Each young person will apply to a job where they feel they can add value. Selecting a job they are genuinely interested in.

Each charity will provide support for both the apprentice and the company throughout the entirety of the apprenticeship (if you feel it appropriate).

All of the above features aim to reduce the risks of employment “drop-out rates” as far as possible. Proven by one of QEST’s charity partners, City Gateway, which has an impressive 95% retention rate for the apprentices they place.

These charity partners are listed under the “charity partners” tab.

How to keep retention rates high?

  1. Paying your apprentice the minimum living wage as opposed to the minimum apprenticeship wage is a helpful factor for retention rates. This is because:
    • Some apprentices cannot afford accommodation and food on the apprenticeship wage, particularly in London and the South East – thus minimising the pool of applicants that can apply for your job.
    • It can be very disheartening for an apprentice to see that their peers are being paid significantly more for a menial job; often it is hard for them to consistently remember the long term picture of their career.
    • Being paid the minimum living wage enables an apprentice to live properly. You are treating them like a valued employee, making them feel respected which in turn will make them invest more time and effort into your company.

    Research has also proven that very slight salary increases throughout the apprenticeship can help keep an apprentice engaged, increasing retention rates. A slight salary increase every 6 months gives the apprentice a benchmark to work towards, an incentive to work hard.

  2. Create a clear support structure around the apprentice:
    • A line manager to assess their work performance
    • A mentor to help on a personal level, such as career progression
    • A charity partner to provide external, objective advice for your company and the apprentice (see the list of partners in the “charity partners” tab for more detail).

    With this support system put in place, and getting the whole company behind the apprenticeship, you are working together for the good of the apprentice, giving him/her every chance of success.

  3. Upskill your workforce (your line managers and mentors) if necessary, so that they are equipped with the skills to manage an apprentice.
  4. The interview process: get to really know your potential apprentice.
    • A suggested format for the interview would be a 3 hour long process, comprising of 2 group activities and 1 written activity.
    • Use the interview to ask the applicant to do various activities that enable you to assess the emotional behaviours the job demands e.g. ask them to sell your brand (good sales skills?) ask them to speak to a fake customer (good customer relations?) practice making a piece of jewellery (good hand-eye co-ordination?).
    • Having a 3 hour long interview process allows you to see the candidate’s true personality, not their “interview face”. This will enable you to assess their character, seeing if they will work well with your current workforce.
    • Ask for feedback after the interview, an informal call 1 week later, to help you improve your interview process for the next time.
  5. Sell your company to the apprentice, make them want to work for you
    • Give a presentation on your company, highlighting the exciting opportunities that come from working with you.

    The apprenticeship should be a mutual fit. It is just as much the apprentice’s decision to work for you as it is your decision to employ them.

  6. A positive mind-set. With the whole company behind the apprenticeship from the start, with the support and belief system put in place, the apprenticeship if far more likely to succeed.

Pay and conditions for apprentices

It is suggested that:

  • Apprentices work for at least 30 paid hours a week.
  • Your company pays for training or studying for a relevant qualification that your apprentice undertakes whilst working for you.
  • You offer apprentices the same conditions as other employees working at similar grades or in similar roles; such as paid holidays, sick pay, any benefits you offer (e.g. childcare voucher schemes), any support you offer (e.g. coaching or mentoring)

Make an apprenticeship agreement

It is suggested that you sign an apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice. This is essentially a contract of employment.

Research has proven that this increases the success rates of an apprenticeship partnership as both groups are fully aware of what the apprenticeship involves and are both committing to a successful working relationship.

The apprenticeship agreement gives details of what you agree to do for the apprentice. This includes:

  • How long the apprenticeship is for
  • The training you will provide
  • Their working conditions and environment
  • The qualifications they are working towards (if appropriate)

You can write your own apprentice agreement or download the government’s apprenticeship agreement template.

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