Here at Visionpath, we practise what we preach – walk the talk, so to speak – so we’re proud to count apprentices among our team. This National Apprenticeship Week, we chatted to our Founder and CEO, Patrick, to discover what he finds most rewarding about hiring and managing apprentices, and his best advice for other managers.
Why did you decide to hire apprentices?
I’ve always wanted to create opportunities for young people to get started in their career – it’s one of the reasons I started Visionpath in the first place – and apprenticeships are a great way to do that. I felt Visionpath could offer an environment where a young person could learn new skills and feel supported, but also make a real contribution to our work.
Also, in 2017 when I was starting to build a team and finding it hard to get people with the right skills and experience, I thought hiring an apprentice would be a great way of developing someone from grassroots level – someone who could grow with us.
"I thought hiring an apprentice would be a great way of developing someone from grassroots level – someone who could grow with us."
What's the most rewarding thing about managing and supporting apprentices?
For me, it’s those moments that help you see how far that person has come. Every apprentice comes in on day one a bit nervous and not sure what they’re doing; then, over time, you see them grow in confidence and they start to make a real difference to the team and the business. So when I see an apprentice doing a great piece of work, or handling a conversation with a client really well, or helping to bring together one of our programmes that’s creating opportunities for other young people, I find it really rewarding – because that’s when you see the growth.
What's your biggest takeaway from managing apprentices – and how did it help you develop as a manager?
I think having apprentices in your team is a constant reminder of young people’s potential (that makes me sound ancient… I’m 34!). I’m always impressed by what apprentices can achieve with just a little help and encouragement, and that they reward the trust you place in them.
What’s your advice for other managers working with apprentices?
Patience, clarity, and trust are key. Being patient with someone starting out who probably won’t get things right first time, or might take something a bit literally and not quite hit the brief, or need something explained a few times. But recognising that investment of time upfront will pay dividends later. Clarity is key as well – being clear about what you expect, what you’re asking someone to do, how they need to approach it, and making sure the apprentice understands what’s being asked of them, too. When you trust your apprentice to do something with all of that together, that’s when you really see them shine.
"For me, having apprentices in the team has brought different perspectives and new ways of doing things"
Why do you think it’s important to offer apprenticeships – and what would you say to a business considering it?
Obviously, I’m biased, but I think it’s a no-brainer. For me, having apprentices in the team has brought different perspectives and new ways of doing things, and I’ve never regretted taking them on.
I'd urge other businesses to look really carefully at what you need in your entry-level roles, then ask yourself if it could be an apprenticeship – quite often, the answer is yes. You need to be prepared to invest some time and resource upfront, but, to be honest, I don’t think that’s much more than you'd do with a more experienced hire. Everyone needs inducting and to learn how things are done in your business, even if they’ve had 20 years in the workplace. Apprentices are no different, so don’t worry about them draining time and energy. The rewards are there if you commit to supporting them early on.
Is your business looking for support hiring apprentices? Whatever your size – and whether it’s the first or fifteenth time you've done it – get in touch to find out how we can help.