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APPRENTICESHIPS: Car, farming and manufacturing businesses invest in Apprenticeships

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: April 16, 2014

(L-R): Apprentice Yvette Quance and Emma Shapland, Mole Valley Farmers recruitment manager

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APPRENTICESHIP vacancies offering the potential to progress to management are being introduced by German Swedish and French Car Parts as part of a pilot project running from their branches in Barnstaple, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay and Taunton.

GSF Car Parts is an independent, family-owned UK national motor factor with an annual turnover exceeding £85 million.

It employs more than 1,000 staff across its network of 70-plus branches, which includes two major distribution centres at Birmingham and Heathrow and three regional distribution centres.

The company is introducing its apprenticeship programme to train employees in the sale of parts in its branches before moving into management.

Working as part of the branch’s experienced team, training will be provided to enable the apprentice parts sales advisor to work towards becoming a competent team member.

This 24-month training programme incorporates progression after the first 12 months on to the trainee manager programme with the ultimate goal of achieving a management position.

A comprehensive bonus structure linked to performance is part of this position as is a structured payment system which increases at six and 12 months.

The apprentice’s main duties will include using GSF systems and identifying parts for customers, quickly and accurately, as well as working to company standards when dealing with customers, such as when answering telephone calls.

They will also ensure all counter displays are up to date and full of stock, promote a good image of the company at all times by maintaining a professional appearance and ensure that customer-facing areas of the branch are kept clean and tidy.

Additionally, they will develop strong working relationships with customers to understand their garage needs.

The successful applicant will be a good communicator, organised, show excellent attention to detail and have good IT skills.

Personal qualities, enthusiasm, a positive attitude, a desire to learn and the ability to be a team player are essential.

GSF Car Parts stocks a large range of parts for all makes of car and light commercial vehicles, ranging from service parts, such as spark plugs, oil and filters, to more technical clutch and engine management systems.

It carries many of the world’s top brands for original quality as well as budget items.

These apprenticeships are being delivered by Learning Skills Partnership and applications are being taken now.

For details and how to apply visit learningskillspartnership.com

MOLE Valley Farmers has taken on its first business administration apprentice at its South Molton office.

Yvette Quance, 20, from Holsworthy will study the full apprenticeship in the workplace, completing theory and competency-based qualifications in Business and Administration.

These will cover communicating and working with others to diary management, arranging meetings and delivering effective customer service.

She will be assessed at Mole Valley Farmers while carrying out her day-to-day duties and will build up a portfolio of evidence to demonstrate her competence.

Along with assessments in the workplace and online exams, Yvette will complete Functional Skills and Employment Rights and Responsibilities training, supported by her assessor and training officer.

Yvette said: “I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to join Mole Valley Farmers as an apprentice.

“The role is really varied, which gives me exposure to a wide range of experiences within all areas of the human resources function for a diverse employer. This, coupled with the benefit of gaining a formal qualification, gives me the best of both worlds.”

Ros Tuddenham, employer account manager at Bridgwater College, said: “We are thrilled to be supporting Mole Valley Farmers on what we hope will be their first of many apprenticeships.”

A NORTH Devon manufacturing company that started out by producing agricultural ironwork for animal housing, handling and feeding is investing in apprentices to support continued growth in the construction sector.

WM Ironwork of Newton Tracey has transformed itself into a leading manufacturer of quality steelwork and now produces and installs its bespoke products on construction projects throughout the UK.

Darryl Holloway, non-ferrous department manager, said the company, which employs 57 people, started taking on apprentices six years ago and has taken one on every year since.

One employee has recently passed their apprenticeship and another is currently training. The company is looking to recruit its next apprentice in September.

WM Ironwork’s engineering apprenticeships are delivered on site by Group Training and Development, while apprentices study one day a week at Petroc.

Darryl started his own manufacturing career on an apprenticeship with GTD so understands the benefits they bring to both employees and employers.

As well as maintaining a skilled workforce, Darryl added that apprenticeships are another means of introducing into the company the academic theory of engineering currently taught along with knowledge of new technologies.

Another aim is to develop employees’ management and supervisory skills so they progress to lead sections and cells.

Most staff have been with the company for more than 10 years and promotion is usually from within.

Run by Stuart West, son of founder Charles West, the company still maintains the friendly feel of a family firm.

While Darryl believes the commitment of taking on an apprenticeship is worth it, he finds it frustrating that funding reduces for those over 19 years old as they sometimes offer qualities that younger applicants do not have.

In addition to developing its workforce through apprenticeships, WM Ironwork is now working with Petroc to introduce traineeships where a jobseeker does three days’ work experience for 18 weeks.

“It’s a nice opportunity for someone to come in and get a feel for working here,” said Darryl. “We can also get to know people and how they conduct themselves in the workplace.”

If successful, traineeships can lead a jobseeker into work and find good employees for businesses without risk on either part.

The firm also exhibited at the Apprentice Showcase at the Barnstaple Hotel in March.

Employers: Download the new information pack to learn how you can get started with apprenticeships at ndapprenticeships.co.uk

Young people and jobseekers: Need help applying for apprenticeships? Contact Careers South West. Email barnstaple@careerssw.org

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