Editor’s Viewpoint: Apprenticeship advantages

Editor’s Viewpoint: Apprenticeship advantages

In the Viewpoint column of the March edition of PBM, editor Paul Davies spoke about the sector’s approach to apprenticeships:

It has been heartening to see the stories coming from the industry, through merchants and suppliers alike, in relation to this year’s recent National Apprenticeship Week. Taking place in early February, #NAW2022 (to use its social media tag…) is a great showcase to celebrate the actions taken by individual businesses and wider employment sectors in looking to attract and develop the next generation of talent.

As we know, recruitment and retention is a core underlying issue for the merchant sector, and it is only right to highlight some of the fantastic work that is being undertaken to tackle the problem. We feature a number of such stories in this issue, with more on our website, and we’d encourage you to take inspiration from the endeavours of existing employers and the perspectives of the apprenticeships themselves. And also use that hashtag to discover even more.

Our main article on the subject this month features Bradfords Building Supplies and its clear belief that its successful apprenticeship programme provides tangible rewards and “continues to have a big impact on the company”.

“Significantly, Bradfords also emphasises how it has found the opportunity to see apprentices grow in confidence to be “highly motivational” for its existing managers.”

Hearing the effusive words of the apprentices themselves outlines just what businesses can benefit from. For example, Apprentice Sales Assistant Harvey Nash at Bradfords’ Ross-On-Wye branch said: “The multiskilling aspect of Bradfords’ programme is a huge draw for me; you get to experience so many different aspects of the business and you’re constantly learning new things. Not only does an apprenticeship give you a defined career path, it also helps develop you as a person. You get to learn on the job as well and get paid a fair wage.”

Significantly, Bradfords also emphasises how it has found the opportunity to see individuals grow in confidence to be “highly motivational” for its managers, noting that “the chance for existing staff to share their knowledge and experience with apprentices has had a really positive impact across the business”.

We’re also keen to point to the story of Selco’s Terence Archer. Working at the firm’s Catford branch, Terence has just achieved a distinction in his Level Two Retailer apprenticeship course only a couple of months before his 70th birthday — and some fifty years after he completed an initial carpentry apprenticeship ahead of a working life on the tools.

Emphasising that such schemes aren’t just suitable for school leavers and youngsters, Terence joined Selco after retirement and finding he “got bored sitting around at home and wanted to keep busy”. The experience he brings to the role and can share with his colleagues is surely invaluable, and only serves to reinforce the points made by Bradfords about the effect its own, younger apprentices have had on its existing staff members.

For individuals and businesses alike, investing in apprenticeships can only be a win-win.

Top 20 Merchants

PBM is currently compiling statistics for our latest annual Top 20 merchant countdown, based on the turnover figures of the sector’s largest businesses and set to appear in the April 2022 edition of the magazine.

To present a truly accurate benchmark for the industry and to ensure our statistics are as up-to-date as possible, we are reaching out to merchant firms for the details. If your organisation is a potential ‘Top 20 merchant’, please click here to complete the short survey on our website or email pbm@hamerville.co.uk for further details.

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