Why you should look at taking apprentices into your business

At Sellafield, we have a 50-year history of hiring and developing apprentices. Our Apprenticeship ethos stems from the key skills the company requires now and in the future and, as such, we’ve identified apprentices as an effective recruitment source to keep the Sellafield site running efficiently and safely.
We currently employ 320 apprentices – a number which has doubled in size year on year over the past three years. This increased recruitment is a reflection of the success we have seen through our apprentice intake and we are committed to maintaining these numbers and providing vocational learning opportunities to people from around the North West.
We are dedicated to our apprentice development and have invested in making Sellafield a leading apprentice employer – demonstrating best practice to other companies where possible. The state of the art Energus training facility and Sellafield Skills Centre are two of the ways we ensure our apprentices receive high quality training in a working environment. Our apprentices complete either engineering, process and science qualifications, they also complete additional NVQ units and safety training. In addition, our Apprentice Board – a selection of Sellafield employees from across the business – constantly reviews our Apprenticeship training programme to make sure our provision is high quality and effective.
Thanks to this added commitment and the support of Sellafield staff, our apprentices finish their training with a high level of skill, quality experience and a range of transferrable skills to take them onto the next level of employment within the company. This extra investment and support has had a significant impact on apprentice retention levels – 100% of qualified apprentices went on to full-time employment with us in 2008/09 and some have progressed into higher positions or on to higher education.
We get to see first-hand the benefits of Apprenticeships and as such have made them the cornerstone of Sellafield’s recruitment and refreshment strategy. The apprentices bring an enthusiasm and willingness to learn, coupled with a motivation and dedication throughout their training. Once fully qualified, their aptitude and skill means they are invaluable to the company. They truly are a practical and cost effective solution to delivering personnel with exactly the right skills, knowledge and behaviours that our business requires.
Last week, Sellafield had the privilege of being named Macro Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards. (David McNerney, pictured centre, collecting the award from Simon Waugh NAS left & Anthony Bacon, from sponsors Cable & Wireless)   We were thrilled with this recognition and extremely honoured to receive an Award to celebrate the success of our Apprenticeship programmes and the talented apprentices we work with. This Award only increases our mission to provide advice to other companies looking to take on apprentices and support an Apprenticeship programme within their business. 
As part of Sellafield’s socio-economic goals and involvement in Britain’s Energy Cost Masterplan, we are committed to supporting apprentice provision to other Cumbrian businesses. We would advise any business to look into the possibility of Apprenticeships and what they can offer. These programmes can work across different sectors, there are over 190 Apprenticeship roles available and an apprentice can add value to any size of business. 
At Sellafield, like many other large employers, we are lucky to have Apprenticeships embedded into our business model but this does not mean Apprenticeships only have a place in large organisations. Small and medium-sized businesses can benefit from all Apprenticeships have to offer too. At the Awards, I was overwhelmed to see how effective apprentices are in a range of different companies – we demonstrated our support by sponsoring the Medium Employer of the Year category and participated in the judging of this category for the National Apprenticeship Awards.
Going forward, the new coalition Government has committed to creating more Apprenticeship opportunities, which I was pleased to hear and will be interested to see what the next year brings. Sellafield’s support for Apprenticeships is certainly set to continue now and into the future.
Sellafield won the Macro Employer of the Year Awards at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2010.
To find out more about hiring an apprentice visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk