Jim Clarke

The Apprentice Academy, based in Manchester, recruited Bellinda for us.  The organisation works closely with employers in the region to engage and develop apprentices in their workforce.  Small businesses can benefit greatly from taking on an apprentice whilst also helping to develop future talent in the region.  For more information about how The Apprentice Academy can help you find the right apprentice for your business, see: http://theapprenticeacademy.co.uk/

James Clarke, Director at The Apprentice Academy, answers our questions …

1. What’s the name of your business, and what does it do?

The Apprentice Academy. We deliver apprenticeships in business, accounting, purchasing and management

2. How long has The Apprentice Academy existed?

10 years

3. Does the Apprentice Academy have a business ethos or personal motto?

Be your best version

4. What’s the biggest challenge the business faces?

Recently it’s been the changes to the apprenticeship market, however, things are settling down now. The apprenticeship reforms were always going to be a great opportunity to raise the quality of apprenticeships, but as with any change, there is always a period of uncertainty.

5. Are there any projects you are particularly proud of?

I would say we’re most proud of the way the business has developed. Ten years ago we were a recruitment company and we have evolved a lot during the last few years. We work with smaller enterprises, right through to big companies like Network Rail so can offer lots of different career opportunities. I’m also proud of the youth projects we are involved in around the city centre called One Mile Project.

6. In a dream scenario, where do you see The Apprentice Academy in three years?

We plan to continue evolving our services and growing our learner numbers. Having a plan is important but focusing on the present is key, particularly the quality of services and relationships. If you get this bit right, the rest follows.

7. What are the most important traits you look for in a young apprentice?

The main thing is commitment and a level of self-motivation. Confidence is something that can be developed over time.

8. Why do you think more businesses should begin to take on apprentices?

We all started out once with no experience and giving that first career break is invaluable, not only for the young person but also the wider economy.

9. What is the main misconception about apprentice schemes and why is it wrong?

Good question. My general view is there is a lack of understanding of how good apprentices are. It’s true, not every apprentice works out but the vast majority do and quickly add lots of value. One of our biggest customers has recruited over 70 (over the last eight years) and most are still employed. It is great going in and seeing past apprentices now managing a team or in advanced roles. The other thing is with the recent apprenticeship reforms, we are seeing a lot of adult learners doing apprenticeships, mainly management programmes backed by organisations such as the Institute of Leadership and Management. Many managers have never had formal management training, and this has provided a framework for managers to gain value skills.

10. And finally, if there’s one piece of advice you could give to an apprentice entering the job market, what would it be?

I would say to be the best version of yourself. Be committed and make the most of the opportunity. Don’t worry too much about confidence, this will grow in time. Some of our best apprentices were so nervous starting out and have gone on to do brilliantly.

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