National Apprenticeship Week
Skills development and training is a critical part of business growth. But during a global pandemic where uncertainty is rife and business survival leads the corporate agenda, it can be all too easy to put training on the back-burner. However, a company’s success is very much driven by its people, and ensuring they have access to relevant skills development will help organisations emerge from a difficult time in a much stronger position.
Keeping momentum going: The Rullion story
For specialist energy, rail and engineering recruitment firm, Rullion, providing training and development opportunities is built into the company’s culture, as Carla Pearce, Talent Co-Ordinator at Rullion explained:
“One of Rullion’s core competencies and values is to have a learning mindset. We enjoy challenging others and being challenged ourselves in order to have the best possible outcome for the business and our people alike.”
As a Levy payer, Rullion used the funds available to put ten of its staff through APSCo’s funded training - provided in partnership with Recruitment Juice in order to re- and up-skill these individuals to support their professional development and growth within the company.
And the benefits are already being noted. As Carla added, “I think it is a fantastic resource that has enabled our colleagues to apply their learning to their roles and become better at their job as they progress through to the qualification. I myself am taking an L&D qualification and have been able to apply so much of my learning to my role to make our processes better.”
Supporting training during a pandemic
While the apprenticeship training has certainly been a useful resource for Rullion, running the programme through a pandemic has been a challenge for the staffing company, with colleagues now nearing completion of their apprenticeship having only had access to virtual training.
“For the apprentices it has been really tough and keeping them motivated and engaged has been a real focus for me. All of their usual classroom-based appointments and 1-2-1 mentor meetings have obviously gone virtual, and we’ve actually found that some apprenticeship providers have struggled with that transition more than we have at Rullion. However, the biggest barrier has been those parents who are working, parenting, home schooling and then trying to complete a qualification all during their working hours. For them I would say it has been a real uphill battle and we’ve ensured they have the best support we can offer them during this time. Some of the apprentices were actually put on furlough so they were able to continue learning while they weren’t at work. We have two apprentices who will soon be receiving their certificates of completion, which is amazing as the last 12 months of their studies have been entirely remote!”
For Carla and Rullion, tapping into funded training through the apprenticeship levy was a relatively new experience and did require some tweaks throughout, including developing a standard enrolment format and review process. While working with APSCo and Recruitment Juice has provided the firm with guidance, Carla does advise firms to ensure they are armed with as much information as possible to plan accordingly:
“All I would say is do your research on the training providers before you go ahead with it. It’s only after our first cohort are reaching the end of their apprenticeships that I know what it looks like end to end and understand all the right questions to ask at the beginning. Most importantly, make sure each individual understands how they’ll distribute their 20% of learning throughout their working week and all the different ways you can classify ‘off the job training’. Some providers, like Recruitment Juice, offer supplementary learning too, whilst others don’t, so it really is important to ensure you’re armed with as much information as you can when planning apprenticeship training.”
Despite the challenges of running a remote apprenticeship programme during a pandemic, a number of Rullion’s 2020 cohort of trainees are nearing the end of the programme. But the opportunities won’t end there for the firm’s staff.
“Our apprentices are welcome to take the next level in apprenticeship once they complete the first stage and some are already beginning to explore this, which Rullion fully supports. I myself am looking into a level 5 coaching apprenticeship following my level 3 L&D training. Apprenticeships through the likes of the Recruitment Juice Development Programmes supplied with APSCo are offered to the entire company, so we’ll be looking at what training our team wants and needs in the coming year as well. Everyone at Rullion has a development plan which usually looks ahead by at last 12 months and our colleagues work towards that. Sometimes the need to upskill or reskill is included in that development plan and that is where the apprenticeships come in.”