When Prinovis, Europe’s largest printing services provider, looked to debut its engineering apprenticeship programme in 2015, they knew there were several big challenges:
- getting a high quality and quantity of applicants
- narrowing the list of qualified candidates to a small group to ensure efficiency
- coordinating a training programme that ensured a smooth transition to the workplace and included the ability to ‘check in’ on apprentices
In order to get it right from the beginning, HR Director Vicci Tatton turned to, EEF. Vicci had used EEF for employment law, health & safety and training support for other parts of the business in the past and knew the manufacturers’ organisation understood their industry.
Working with EEF on the recruitment process for the Prinovis mechanical and electrical engineering apprentices ensured the right calibre apprentices were recruited through a multi-step process:
- Prinovis sat down with EEF to identify the goals of the apprenticeship programme, necessary skills and existing competencies and interests.
- EEF and the North West Training Council advertised the apprenticeship online and through their connections with school advisers.
- EEF conducted initial screening through CV sorting (including looking at minimum school grades) and preliminary phone interviews, followed by psychometric tests.
- EEF then invited the shortlisted applicants were then invited to Prinovis UK for a first stage interview and led an assessment day for the successful candidates held at Prinovis UK in Liverpool. The assessment day consisted of a variety of assessments including a competency based interviews, group activity, personality test, mechanical and electrical practical tests and a presentation. The Assessors Team was a joint collaboration between the EEF and Prinovis and a unanimous decision was reached on the selection of the two new apprentices.
The process was a success, according to Vicci:
“It is so important to invest upfront in the right selection process and give everybody who has a vested interest in the Apprenticeship program an opportunity to be involved in the selection decision. The collaboration between Prinovis and EEF was key in ensuring a very successful outcome.”
Designing the training programme
Working with EEF on the development of the training programme has ensured the training the apprentices get deliver the right skills Prinovis needs, with a programme that is tailored to the company. Over the four years the apprentices will spend with Prinovis, they will achieve a Level 3 NVQ in engineering maintenance and move onto the HNC level in electrical or mechanical engineering.
This is accomplished through a mixture of on-site, on-the-job work and training and testing at the North West Training Centre in Bootle. EEF manage the whole process and oversee the training that’s delivered. Apprentices work on the actual machines they’ll use in the workplace and are taught by instructors who have real-life manufacturing and engineering sector experience.
Vicci says: “We liked that the training premises were very similar to what they would experience in the workplace, including having to ‘clock in’.”
Tips and Tricks
Vicci has a few tips for other companies considering an apprenticeship programme:
Have a clear deployment plan for the time your apprentices spend in the workplace, perhaps with a formal mentorship programme
Be clear with your apprentices on the expectations for the workplace and conduct regular reviews
Just go for it! She says: “If you know what your business requirements are and that an apprentice would be the right fit, it’s a really good thing to do.”