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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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What we’ve learnt from 80 years of taking on apprentices


Engineering, IT and facilities services business NG Bailey have been recruiting apprentices for 80 years. In recognition of National Apprenticeship Week, we reached out Frank Clayton, the company’s Head of L&D, and asked for 10 lessons they’ve learnt from the 5000 apprentices they’ve trained since 1934.

  1. “You have to invest, even when it’s tough out there. For every 15 of our employees, we have one apprentice place, which is testament to our belief that the best talent comes from within. Apprenticeships have truly been a bedrock in our success.”
  2. “There are some great opportunities for apprentices to come – but they’ll only get out what they put in.  Demand apprentices who are fully committed to their future success and that of your business. Why invest in something if there’s no return?”
  3. “Apprentices have a unique opportunity in front of them, and that needs instilling in them from the very start of their journeys. Where else can you begin a career, earning money straight from school and progress through an organisation with no limit on where you might end up That’s appealing to more and more young people, especially with university fees so high now.”
  4. “When apprentices make a mistake, it’s important they understand the consequences and learn from it, a disciplined approach early on can be the making of them. We’ve seen apprentices take that experience and really use it to flourish. They never make the same mistake twice.”
  5. “Our apprentices have gone on to win national awards for their performance, represented their country at the WorldSkills Olympics, met the prime minister and been on funded study trips to some amazing locations including Africa and the US. It’s a fact of life that some won’t take these opportunities that lie ahead of them because they don’t want to fulfil their potential. It’s our job to make them realise what they can achieve and help them get there – take that job seriously.”
  6. “Make time for your apprentices, let them know, clearly, how they fit into the organisation and its future. They have to feel involved and engaged, or you won’t get what you need out of them. This is why we have a bespoke induction for our apprentice class each year, produce a regular apprentice newsletter and hold an annual apprenticeship conference, which is a great way to update our apprentices on our plans for them and get them bought into what needs to be achieved going forward.”
  7. “Let apprentices know right from the start they have to graft hard to keep a good job. Every organisation is crowded at the bottom of the ladder, it’s competitive. But at the top, having spent thousands of hours working hard to be better every day, working hard, developing your skills – quite frankly there is little competition, because for someone to beat you they have had to put the same hours in.”
  8. “Apprentices that strive to do things better, faster, more efficiently quickly begin to stand out. Help them use every resource they have to get the job done. Get the best out of people by treating them like customers.”
  9. “Help apprentices enjoy what they do whilst delivering profitable jobs, making the customer happy by delivering it to them on time to the best standard, and making every boss they work for look good to their boss. That can’t fail to get them, and in turn, the business, ahead.”
  10. “On average, we now receive 150 applications per apprenticeship role, so it’s more important than ever to stand out. Choose people who clearly want to prove themselves and be the best. I instinctively knew that if I did a good job I would get on. That’s a common trait of all our great apprentices that we’ve trained over 80 years.”
Author Profile Picture
Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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