18/05/2015

By Sebastian Paszek, Senior Digital Project Manager, Spot Studio

At Spot Studio we are big proponents of apprenticeship schemes, not least because it gives younger people a way to work on their skills as well as their CV, but because it allows us the opportunity to train someone up to work flexibly within our company, as opposed to hiring someone with experience who will already have their own ideas and methods formed.

Having the insights of a young, sharp mind that looks at problems in a completely fresh and different way means that we’ve developed systems that work more intuitively, streamlining tasks and making administrative work so much easier. Their desire to develop their skills rather than merely progress their career is clearly evident and ever so advantageous.

However, it hasn’t always been plain sailing when we’ve taken on an apprentice – not their fault but ours! At first we approached the process without much insight and quickly learnt that we’d taken on the wrong person entirely.

For anyone considering hiring an apprentice for the first time, we highly recommend that you consider the three following areas with each applicant:

Attitude

The suppliers will pretty much guarantee that the prospective apprentice will have the right skill set for your job, but you need to determine whether they have the right attitude for the company. Focus on this in the interview rather than their skillset, which can be far more easily instilled as the apprenticeship commences.

Aspirations

Making sure that the apprentice’s aspirations are inlined with the reality of the role at your company is extremely important. It’s not worth your time or theirs to upsell! Be as plainly transparent as possible.

As a digital agency we get a lot of applications from apprentices who want to work in a ‘creative’ role (which we do have at our company) though the role we wanted to fill on this occasion was for a junior project management position. Assuring them that the opportunity to work their way up existed, we gave them the position, but we quickly discovered that they didn’t have the patience to get there.

Interpersonal Skills

It’s very important to understand that there’s a generational gap, and that these 17-19 year olds won’t be able to cope with the stresses and strains of working in a company as you might expect. We’ve found that a lot of our apprentices lack a certain degree of interpersonal skills, whether this is dealing with people on the phone, face to face or simply accepting and dealing with criticism. As such, we recommend that any prospective employer take the time to set up in-house training in order to help cultivate these skills in the individual.

Taking on an apprentice can be very rewarding and by following these steps we are sure you will find the right person to fit into your company!