National Apprenticeship Week, now in its 13th year, is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the benefits of apprenticeships.
Taking place from 3-9 February 2020, Williams Refrigeration has plenty to celebrate on the subject, boasting a strong portfolio of 30 live apprenticeship schemes across its wider AFE Group in the UK.
At its King’s Lynn headquarters, Williams has seven apprentices on various courses and levels, which embraces this year’s National Apprenticeship Week theme of ‘Look Beyond’ - celebrating the diversity in what apprenticeships offer.
Daniel Walker, Ben Saman and Sam Corlett are all currently undertaking the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning: Refrigeration Level 2 course, whilst Ben Watts is completing the Safety, Health and Environment Technician Level 3 course.
Furthermore, Bethany Feltwell, John Hopgood and Cassie Barlow are all studying their respective Level 4 courses in Commercial Procurement and Supply, Improvement Practitioner and Professional Accounting / Taxation Technician.
Commenting on the impact of her course, Cassie said: “I think the apprenticeship programme is important because it gives you the opportunity to study as well as work. Unlike university and other courses, the apprenticeship programme allows you to earn while you learn and I think this is important because it also teaches young people the importance of managing money.
“Being able to work while I study really helps with my course as I can apply what I have learnt to a real life scenario which helps me to gain a better understanding and to experience being in a working environment. This is good because it prepares young people for the future and gives them an insight into work. I enjoy meeting new people at work and interacting with colleagues.”
Shaun Woodrow, Group Finance Controller, revealed the benefits behind the programme: “Cassie’s apprenticeship entails a series of exams, a portfolio of work based evidence and a reflective discussion under exam conditions. The benefits to Williams is that we get a qualified and motivated member of the team who can apply what they learn on the course alongside their day to day role.”
Fellow apprentice John added: “The programme is important to me because I was given a great opportunity in this job role so it’s important I learn the tools to help me. I enjoy implementing positive changes into the business.”
Bethany highlighted the benefits of being able to ‘develop and grow’ within the industry. “This course has opened my eyes to the world that is procurement and will help me to progress my career in the future. I have developed skills in negotiating, supplier relationships, stock management and many other areas that I hope to go on to demonstrate in order to aid the Success of Williams Refrigeration.
“What I enjoy most about this course is the interactions I have encountered with fellow classmates. My class consists of procurement professionals of all ages, genders and from both public and private sectors. The experience and knowledge I have gained from meeting these individuals and listening to their own methods, how challenging situations are handled in different workplace settings and the advice they have offered have all contributed to my development in this ever changing industry and has only made me want to continue my studies further.”
Sharing his thoughts on being an apprentice, Daniel said: “The course gives me a bigger insight into refrigeration systems as well as expanding my role and progressing in the business. It’s great being able to gain a further understanding of what I’m building and it’s a really good course to be involved in.”
Also discussing the importance of being part of an apprenticeship programme – for both the business and himself, Ben Watts said: “It adds a feather to my bow whilst enhancing the resource in compliance for Williams. Compliance is key; and this course is further developing my skills as an auditor for the business as well as giving me a greater understanding of the world of Health and Safety and Environmental issues.”
Williams continues to support and encourage apprenticeships as it forms a vital part in developing skills, as Colin Breeze, Customer Services Manager and Quality Assurance Manager, added: “I’m a great supporter of helping our employees who want to show initiative and get on in life with some formal training and qualifications.”
Domonic Mace, Senior Manufacturing Operations Manager, echoed the importance of apprenticeships to the business, saying: “It’s considerably important to continue to support the training and development of individuals within the business.”
Bringing the whole apprenticeship community together, the Week celebrates the impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers and the economy.
In fact, during 2018/19, there were over 742,000 people participating in an apprenticeship in England, with more than 393,000 apprenticeship starts – a slight improvement on the previous year. With apprenticeships becoming more diverse, more appealing and more open, it’s clear to see the many benefits programmes can bring to a business and the apprentice.
Keith Smith, Director, Apprenticeships Group, Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), said: “There is much to celebrate in apprenticeships and National Apprenticeship Week gives the whole apprenticeships community opportunity to showcase the many brilliant apprenticeships available in England today. Let’s all get behind apprenticeships and celebrate the opportunities apprenticeships present to fire up careers.”
Georgina Clark, HR Manager at Williams, concluded: “Williams Refrigeration is keen to recognise and grow talent within our business. Using the Apprenticeship Levy is an effective way of doing this and utilising the funds that are available to us.”
Williams looks forward to continuing to develop and support its current and future apprenticeship programmes, allowing more rising stars of the refrigeration industry to shine through.
Image caption (L-R): Bethany Feltwell, Cassie Barlow, Ben Saman, Daniel Walker and John Hopgood with Williams Plant 2 Supervisor Alan Murray.