Apprenticeships look good in print and in practice, says employer

“Recruiting an apprentice gives companies the opportunity to mould an individual.” Chelsea Peek, office manager, CCM

This week, we turn the tables and ask an employer about the impact of hiring an apprentice. We caught up with Chelsea Peek, office manager at CCM Print Management in Mansfield, Notts, to ask her how CCM has effectively integrated apprenticeships into their business model.

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When did CCM first get an apprentice?
Our first apprentice started with us in January 2010, and we have had three apprentices join CCM since then.

Why did you decide to hire an apprentice?
We have a very busy sales office where it is imperative that all admin jobs are processed thoroughly and efficiently to ensure the smooth running of the company. These tasks varied in complexity and length but covered all business areas, so in order to free up the time of the trained and customer-facing staff, we believed that delegating these responsibilities to a new and inexperienced individual would be of benefit to all involved. Our apprentices gain the training and experience they need, whilst the company as a whole operates more effectively.

How did you find the recruitment process?
We have recruited four apprentices in the last four years. These have all been recruited in different ways – with help from Vision Apprentices advertising the role, via our own job vacancy listing, through the Summer Job Shop scheme (an initiative run by Mansfield District Council in partnership with Vision West Nottinghamshire College), and our latest apprentice applied for a different role we were advertising. She had no admin experience, but came across very motivated and enthusiastic, so we recruited her as an apprentice.

How long do apprenticeships at CCM last for?
Our previous apprentices have taken one year to complete their course. Ideally we would like to recruit an apprentice who can be trained up to become a full-time member of staff once their apprenticeship finishes. Unfortunately as yet, none of the apprenticeships have worked out that way, but we are hopeful that our current apprentice will join CCM long term.

How did the apprentice fit in to the workforce?
With our office environment being so fast-paced, having an apprentice has encouraged us to streamline procedures wherever possible, and delegate responsibility out to fit individual skills. Some of our quieter apprentices have benefited from data input tasks, whereas more outgoing and creative apprentices have enjoyed helping with sales enquiries and calls; as well as getting involved in marketing campaigns.

Overall, our apprentices have fitted in well at CCM once their strengths have been highlighted and they have been given tasks to suit their skills. They have learned about the products and services our company provides, as well as adding their own contributions. The wider team have worked well to train our apprentices in their delegated tasks, and have enjoyed the benefits of spreading the workload to focus on other areas more suited to their expertise.

How is the learning aspect incorporated into the work?
The apprenticeships have varied in the way they are structured. Three of our apprentices have had tutors visit every couple of weeks to assess their progress, whereas one apprentice has took part in a day release to college. Here they are able to mix with their peers which, in my opinion, helps to contribute to their learning and apprenticeship experience. Additionally, in order to help assist our apprentice with their course, we set an afternoon aside each week – should they need it, in order to catch up on any work.

Describe a typical day for an apprentice at CCM 
Days are so varied, but apprentices have a set of responsibilities that they are expected to complete, as well as other ad hoc tasks. A typical day will consist of:
• dealing with incoming and outgoing post
• answering calls and the door, as well as making drinks as required
• maintaining/updating the meeting room calendar
• chasing orders and recording all due dates
• following up quotes and proofs
• filing documents
• typing invoices
• dealing with sample files.

Is there any room for progression?
Yes, we are aware that training individuals in both our products and services, and business procedures is costly and time consuming. We initiate apprenticeship job roles to help source motivated individuals who want to learn, and who we can train to understand how our company works. Our intention is to progress our apprentices onto more senior positions and responsibilities once they have completed their apprenticeship, however this all depends on how well they perform during their time here.

What would you say to other employers looking at hiring an apprentice?
Recruiting an apprentice gives companies the opportunity to mould an individual. Whilst it gives apprentices the experience they require, the company can train them to understand and work to to their expectations and procedures. Recruiting someone new always brings new methods, ideas, and personality to a business; as well as allowing a more flexible option for delegating tasks and shaping an individual to company expectations.

If you’re an employer considering hiring an apprentice and require more information, you can visit the Vision Apprentices website. Alternatively, speak directly to an advisor on 0800 121 8317. 

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