Apprenticeships Case Study: Contemporary Flowers, Kent

How apprentices have benefited my small business and what they can do for other employers, by Rachel Goldsack, owner of Contemporary Flowers, Kent.

Apprenticeships Case Study: Contemporary Flowers, KentAs an employer of two apprentices, I’d thoroughly recommend taking one on – it’s the best business decision I’ve made yet. As well as seeing a 30% increase in profits, our apprentices have helped us to grow out of our initial shed-sized premises into a full-sized shop and we are about to open a second store.

For a small but growing business like mine, where creativity and technical skills are vital to success, I firmly believe Apprenticeships are the best way of recruiting the high-quality employees I need. In the past we’ve struggled to find employees with the right skills, but with apprentices we can nurture their talents and help them develop skills to our own high standards.

The talents of our apprentices have also enabled us to generate lots of publicity for our floristry business – through things like our success in the Apprenticeship Awards, where we’ve been nationally recognised for what we’re doing with our apprentices as a small business, and the Chelsea Flower Show, where our apprentices have won us prizes two years in a row. Employing apprentices is really putting us on the map and helping us to broaden our customer base.

For employers looking to get involved with Apprenticeships, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) should be the first port of call. NAS will advise on which of the 190 plus Apprenticeships currently available will best suit the needs of a business.

Employers can then use Apprenticeship vacancies online – the official, free, online recruitment system for Apprenticeships – to attract and recruit potential employees from the thousands of candidates registered on the system.

Generally, an Apprenticeship takes between one and three years to complete; the exact length will depend on the skills the apprentice has to begin with and the qualification they work towards. They will be an employee in the business and will be paid a wage, but NAS assists with funding for the training costs, depending on the age of the apprentice.

In my experience, apprentices are motivated and hard working people who flourish in the in the right working environment. At the Apprenticeship Awards 2010, it was wonderful to see so many young people succeeding across a variety of job roles and sectors, as well as so many employers delighted with the outstanding achievements of their apprentices. I would encourage any employer to look into the opportunities Apprenticeships can bring.

Rachel Goldsack owns Contemporary Flowers in Canterbury, a florist that was crowned Micro Employer of the Year at the Apprenticeship Awards 2010.

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