To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, we asked our Director Paul to share his thoughts on the Apprenticeship schemes, and what it means to Alchemy.
What encouraged Alchemy to consider the Apprenticeships scheme?
Both myself and my business partner Scott became Graphic Designers by chance when we were given an opportunity at the start of our careers to work for a small publishing company.
Learning in a school or college was never for me, I wanted to learn on the job, so I clearly understand why the apprenticeship route appeals to some. With this in mind we always knew we wanted to offer this experience to young people. From the beginning we took on work experience youngsters from local colleges, and so the apprenticeship scheme was a natural progression when we found the need for a more full-time role. It took a while to make the decision but we haven’t looked back
Did you know anything about Apprenticeships beforehand?
We didn’t know a lot about apprenticeships to start, we went into the process a little blind, approaching our local college to ask for help. The government at the time were also pushing apprenticeships in a big way, they offered grants to help pay for equipment and wages and this helped hugely at the time. We have learnt a lot since our first apprentice, we now know the process and have learnt to take our time to find the right candidates for the roles that we offer.
What are the benefits to having Apprentices in the team?
We really enjoy the enthusiasm of an apprentice, most come into the role without prior work experience, so we’re helping to shape their understanding of the work place. We like to keep things relaxed in the office and whilst we understand that this approach to work life isn’t suited to everyone (some need more structure) we like to trust our apprentices, and hope that this leads to a great work ethic. We never look for previous experience in any of the roles that we offer, and feel this brings a fresh look at the work that we ask our apprentices to take on.
How have Apprentices impacted your business?
Over six years we have employed six apprentices, one went on to a further apprenticeship in a specialist area of design that we didn’t offer and is doing great things, another has been with us for nearly four years since his apprenticeship finished and is now part of the furniture. We currently have three apprentices working with us on Digital Marketing and Web Design.
The whole scheme has allowed us as a small company to grow whilst employing young, hard working and reliable staff. It’s allowed the company to branch out and look at new avenues of business and approach new industries with a fresh outlook.
What is the benefit for Apprentices, working with Alchemy?
We go into any apprenticeship with the belief that a full-time job would be waiting at the completion of their course. We want to use our apprentices to grow, we want them to gain knowledge and ideas that we don’t have, and in turn we hope to learn from them.
Here at Alchemy we are relaxed in our approach to office life, we understand and encourage the need to be flexible, but we also expect anyone within the team to produce work to a high standard and meet any deadlines that are set.
Mainly, we want our apprentices to enjoy their work life, so many times I hear people say they have the ‘Sunday blues’, in a sense that they aren’t looking forward to work on Monday, I have to say that I’ve never experienced this and I really hope that my enjoyment of work is passed on to anyone that works with us.
What is the future of Apprenticeships for Alchemy?
We’ll continue to employ apprentices and I firmly believe this will help us grow. We enjoy everything about the scheme (even the super long appraisal forms we have to fill out at the end of the course!) We’re always looking at the new courses that are available, for example, we were one of the first companies to use the Digital Marketing course and it has proved to be an excellent route into the industry for both us and our apprentices.
Why would you recommend Apprenticeships to other small businesses?
I’m a massive advocate of the apprenticeship scheme as you can probably tell. I wanted to learn on the job when I started out, and so being able to pass on my knowledge whilst working alongside and learning from the people we take on, is one of the reasons I enjoy coming into the office.
Approached in the right way, the apprenticeship scheme helps to create a loyalty and trust, this leads to a great atmosphere for your office and the knowledge that you gain alongside your apprentices is invaluable.