The Waiting Game: Re-visiting Apprenticeships
Local small business re-visits apprenticeships after hearing of exciting new developments in the programmes offer.
The Waiting Game is Bristol-based, family run hospitality business led by brothers Ben and Tom Pickles. Since their inception in 2010, they have become the pre-eminent supplier of event staff in the South West. The business has recently expanded to include branches in South Wales & London and a bar in Bristol.
The Waiting Game were referred to The WTPN as part of the West of England Combined Authority Workforce for the Future programme via Business West, who were already engaging with the business for workforce planning and development. The Waiting Game had hired apprentices in the past successfully but had heard that apprenticeships had modernised further and more options for their team were potentially available.
Ben and Tom were looking for additional support with putting two members of staff onto an apprenticeship and exploring how apprenticeships could be incorporated into their five-year plan. The WTPN have continued to support the business through their West of England Apprenticeship Service (WEAS).
The team at the West of England Apprenticeship Service (WEAS) spoke to Tom, Director at The Waiting Game, about his experience of working with them.
Have you had any previous experience of employing apprentices?
We’d hired an apprentice before (around two years ago) who has progressed within the organisation. Our whole ethos is about training people up and we wanted to reflect that within our business.
What advice would you give to an employer thinking of going down the apprenticeship route?
Prepare well. To give your apprentice the best chance to succeed ensure you have a clear plan for them when they start. Give them an opportunity to experience every part of your business and a project with a purpose, so they get to experience real results.
Has your experience of working with the West of England Apprenticeship Service encouraged you to recruit further apprentices into the business?
We are currently in a transitional period where we are looking to further develop our existing staff. We are keen to bring in additional apprentices within the next six months. The availability of the government apprenticeship incentives encouraged us to progress with bringing a new Business Administration apprentice into the business.
We have an ambitious one-, three- and five-year plans for our recruitment, within 5 years we wish to have a departmental structure within our business, with progression available for our current staff to progress within the business. We want to bring in apprentices and other recruits to backfill the roles vacated by staff progressing to more senior roles within our company.
What feedback can you give on the support you have received from the West of England Apprenticeship Service & the Share to Support scheme?
The service has been fantastic throughout. From general information to active support the whole process has been fantastic. At a difficult time for the business, it has been great to have a team in place to discuss options and solutions with and to support us in upskilling our workforce and recruiting.
The support that has been on offer has been second to none. Having the team available to discuss any issue along the way has been a great support and helped us to overcome challenges.
The service is led by the Western Training Provider Network, as part of the West of England Combined Authority's Workforce for the Future programme. The service is free to businesses, thanks to funding and support from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Find out more information about Workforce for the Future here.