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Apprentices Campaign: Pair learn the trade at Ilfracombe’s independent Wizard Brewery

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: February 12, 2014

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IF an apprenticeship is not available for a specific sector, it’s now possible to create one.

Dan England and Rocky Parkin, apprentices at Ilfracombe’s independent Wizard Brewery, are now learning the trade on a scheme devised by the company with Duchy College.

Dan, 23, saw the vacancy advertised in a Careers South West jobs bulletin and thought it was a good opportunity in a fast-growing industry.

At the time, he did not have a clear idea of what he wanted to do but had always been interested in beer.

“I’d worked in restaurants and it’s nice to do a job I actually enjoy,” said Dan.

Dan joined Wizard in July 2013 and is involved in all aspects of the business.

He recently spent a week in Sunderland at Brewlab, a leading provider of training services for the international brewing industry, in addition to his apprenticeship training.

“I learnt the fundamentals of brewing, chemistry and biology and gained a really good certificate,” he said.

Dan’s work includes brewing three days a week, the upkeep of the brewery, checking levels and being involved in all aspects of the business. He also buys in ingredients and runs the Facebook page.

Rocky, 26, saw the vacancy advertised in the North Devon Journal and thought he would apply for it. “I was a chef before and wanted to learn something new,” said Rocky. “Not many people have got a qualification in brewing beer.

“It’s a good starting point. The boss is brilliant and it’s a good team working here. There’s a lot of loyalty.

“It’s really good that they give you a chance to do things off your own back.”

Rocky started at Wizard in January and will be also going on the course at Brewlab.

He is now learning about all aspects of the business and does the bottling runs and labelling.

Demonstrating that apprenticeships can be created for most sectors, Dan and Rocky are now learning a long-established trade while benefiting from industry training in up-to-date techniques.

Bruce Hutton, managing directory of Wizard Brewery, hopes Dan and Rocky will develop their skills to become head brewers and play a role in the development of the brewery and complementary projects.

Ellie lands a full-time job after training:

NORTHAM Lodge, the Bideford charity providing care for adults with disabilities, has been working in partnership with Petroc to provide opportunities for apprentices in its care services.

Ellie Morgan completed her apprenticeship with Northam Lodge in 2013 and was subsequently offered a full-time job as a support worker.

Finance and resources manager Carron Holmes said: “We have found the apprenticeship scheme to be very successful. Ellie had support and training in social care from the college while gaining on-the-job experience with us and doing our own training.”

Ellie completed an intermediate apprenticeship in the adult social care pathway of the joint health and social care framework. This included achievement of the QCF Level 2 diploma in health and social care (Adults); QCF Level 2 certificate in preparing to work in adult social care; Level 2 award in employment responsibilities and rights in health, social care, children and young peoples settings; and transferable skills in maths and English.

Ellie also completed specialist training in the workplace, including fire safety, infection control, moving and handling, nutrition, mental capacity act and safeguarding.

She is now employed as a support worker within the care team and works with a range of different people, all of whom have learning disabilities and many with physical disabilities. She works within one of the residential services where clients have very complex care needs, such as cerebral palsy, and need a system of well-planned support including health care, physio and nutrition.

Ellie said: “I enjoyed being able to learn at college while having a job and earning money.

“I love working at Northam Lodge and find care work really rewarding so I was really pleased to get a job at the end of it.”

Carron added: “We have had a very good experience with Ellie and would certainly consider doing this again in future if we have an opening for an apprentice again.”

Apprentices play a vital role:

APPRENTICES feature largely in the plans of Bruce and Louis Hutton. The brewing brothers not only run Wizard Brewery, but will be opening the Pier Brewery Tap and Grill on Ilfracombe Quay in April and Moorish Farm Shop near Kentisbury in March.

Wizard Brewery at Mullacott Business Park already employs two brewing apprentices, Dan England and Rocky Parkin, who will also work in the new Moorish brewery at the farm shop. A butchery apprentice and two catering and hospitality apprentices are also being recruited.

“Youth unemployment is a big issue in the UK and it is becoming harder and harder to go to university,” said Bruce Hutton. “I wanted to do my bit and I really believe in the apprenticeship scheme.”

Bruce believes apprenticeships make commercial sense because the grant has enabled them to hire two people instead of one, giving the brewery an extra pair of hands at a time of rapid expansion.

Bruce also likes being able to train the apprentices to fit the business: “You can train them your way. We want them both to be head brewers. We won’t be standing still. As the business grows, they will grow too.”

Because it had not trained brewing apprentices before, Duchy College worked with Wizard Brewery to identify the specialist modules relevant to its business needs.

While much of the training will be delivered through distance learning, Wizard Brewery is topping up the training, funding courses for Dan and Rocky at Brewlab, a specialist international brewery training provider in Sunderland.

This is not only improving their understanding of brewing, but also enabling them to bring to the firm knowledge of the latest brewing techniques.

Bruce is generally pleased with the apprenticeship scheme, although suggested better communications would benefit the whole recruitment process as there are so many organisations involved.

He thought a timeline for employers stating when each action was to be completed would be good for keeping everyone up to date.

As Bruce and Louis build a group of businesses focusing on good value, high quality food and drink, apprentices will play a major role .

Spreading the word to business:

OVER the past year, 1,395 apprenticeships were started in North Devon and Torridge. This represents a 15% increase since 2011, suggesting that business interest in apprenticeships is growing.

Over half of all these apprentices were employed by small businesses, which is almost 6% higher than the rest of the South West or nationally. Many micro-businesses with less than 10 employees are creating this growth with some taking on their very first employee.

While the recent Northern Devon Skills Survey shows that almost one-third of business respondents plan to offer apprenticeships in the next three years, there is a further third who are undecided.

This presents the Apprenticeships Work campaign with the challenge of reaching out to these businesses with the impartial guidance they need to help them take the first step.

With the £1,500 grants from the Government continuing for those new to apprenticeships, our campaign aims to extend its reach to the many employers who are still unaware of the potential return on investment an apprentice can bring. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships Showcase at the Barnstaple Hotel on March 13.

Get involved


If you’re new to apprenticeships and want to learn about the benefits, come to the Employers Breakfast on March 13 or visit anytime during the day at the Apprenticeships Showcase. Visit www.ndapprentice.co.uk.


Careers South West will be offering you support in finding an apprenticeship at the Apprenticeships Showcase on March 13, where we will also have the latest local apprenticeship vacancies.


Learn about the benefits of an apprenticeship to help your young person prepare speculative approaches to local employers.

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