2020 will see National Apprenticeship Week run from 3-9 February, with a theme of ‘Look Beyond’ to celebrate the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities across England. Here, Home Instead franchisee Sonia Dehal explains the impact an apprentice has had on her business, and why other franchised businesses should jump in.
Apprenticeships remain a popular choice for the younger generation who are keen to combine studying with work, along with earning a bit of money, or those that see it as a great way to gain skills that can set them up for life. An increasing amount of small businesses are realising the potential of apprentices, so we speak to Sonia Dehal, franchisee for Home Instead Walsall, on why other franchisees should consider this route.
Why did you think bringing on an apprentice would be the best way forward for your business?
With our business plan, we identified that the crucial aspect for our administration position would be to have somebody who culturally fit our business and ambitions in our area. We felt this held greater importance than specific experience as both Suki and I felt capable in training the right person the skills to use our system, as long as they were willing to learn. We had great feedback from other franchisees who had recruited for this position in this fashion and the colleagues had gone onto progress their careers as key players within the business.
Do you believe apprenticeships are a great opportunity for the younger generation, and why?
I firmly believe that apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity for young people to develop their skills in a practical work environment, rather than remaining in full time education. Whilst not for everyone, a number of young people we speak with in our local college feel that they are ready to enter the working world and want to understand different sectors whilst developing practical skills such as customer service, relationship management and organisation. The apprenticeship environment allows students to gain these skills whilst still progressing their education, putting them in a great position when applying for roles further down their career as they will have built up relevant competencies.
The introduction of the 2017 apprenticeship levy scheme (a tax on bigger employers to help raise money to train people at work) seems to have had an impact on employers taking on apprentices – what would you say to business owners, especially in franchising, who are on the fence?
For me, I would have no hesitation in recommending the apprentice route for other franchisees. Building links with your local college is important to ensure you can clearly define the base skill set that you are looking for and you are able to shape the interviewing process and job description to clearly articulate your desired candidate. For us here at Home Instead Senior Care Walsall, the cultural and values based approach is seen as the most important aspect when making appointments and this has paid dividends with the excellent work that has been completed to date by our apprentice.