Alfie Heaps

As the country emerges from Lockdown - @westlondoncol - assesses the continuing restrictions placed on businesses by Covid-19, and how this is a key time to plan to train, retain and develop staff.

The essential nature of what apprentices bring to business provides the bridge across a Covid-19 contaminated world towards the more settled ways of working we could achieve in the longer term. Travelling over the bridge successfully is key to building a sustainable future. Many staff face redundancy and need to retrain, while others are entering the jobs market for the first time from school, college or university.  The characteristics of apprenticeships are well matched to growing businesses during the challenges we all currently face.

Apprentices offer a fresh take and approach on their work and bring a new enthusiasm to their employers, as they are eager to embrace their role. As apprentices train with the college at the same time as working, they are learning the latest thinking on performing effectively, and often bring profitable insights and solutions to business improvement.  This is often achieved as they complete their project work and implement theory in their day to day work.

Apprenticeship standards are designed to be influenced and customised by employers. On the job training, which is part of an apprenticeship is bespoke to the job role, which means the apprentice is very much moulded to working in the company style, and interestingly, company loyalty tends to be much higher amongst apprentices than other employees.

Alfie Heaps, studied Sports Extended Diploma Level 3, a vocational course broadly equivalent to 3 A Levels, before he became a Business Administrator Level 3 apprentice at West London College.

Alfie also feels a greater sense of the loyalty to the College, due to the commitment it has shown to him, “I feel loyalty as the college has invested so much in me, provided a work placement, provided a course and a pathway for myself after this apprenticeship.”

Taking on apprentices at Levels 2 and 3, provides the organisation with excellent value and the individual with much needed work experience and skills to launch their careers. As well as welcoming new entrants to the business, the Apprenticeship Levy provides the resources many companies need to upskill their existing staff, for example, Operational Management or Associate Project Manager at Levels 4 and 5. 

Alfie’s been in his role for 18 months and developed skills in financial processes, communication, organisation, IT and project management among others. 

Alfie describes what he likes best about his work, “I feel that I am trusted and not being treated as a student but more as a member of staff, which is very encouraging. I also like that I am able to say what I think and ask questions if I am not sure or do not feel confident with the information I have.” 

David Warnes, Deputy Principal at West London College explains, “Apprenticeships provide businesses with employees who are uniquely trained to fulfil their job roles and come to know their organisations inside and out. This means even though environmental factors may impact significantly on businesses, organisations will have a highly trained, adaptable and resilient work force if they invest in hiring apprentices.”

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