Apprenticeship Officers play matchmaker to help MAs find new work home

Apprenticeship Officers play matchmaker to help MAs find new work home
Hilston and Bennett Apprentices

Modern Apprentices are in good hands at Forth Valley College, to the point where the College can even help find them a new employers if things don’t work out in their original workplace.

As Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024 #scotappweek24 begins, it is good to know that Forth Valley College have a dedicated team of Apprenticeship Officers Apprenticeship, who are responsible for helping over 1,000 apprentices complete their journey.

Irene Kane, one of the Apprenticeship Officers managing dozens of Joinery MAs through their four year apprenticeship has had recent experience of supporting candidates through some unforeseen circumstances when the candidates were at risk of redundancy.

Apprenticeship Officers play a key role in supporting the apprentices through their learning journey and often find they need to support candidates. If for example they are made redundant mid-apprenticeship, AOs can help support the candidates in finding new employers to allow them to complete their trade qualification.

Not only does that benefit the MA, but it also serves as an extremely useful service for the College’s employer partners, who might need to find suitable MAs to fill spaces in their workforce.

Initially one of the FVC Work Based Assessors – such as Paul Steele - goes out to do a ‘Skillscan’ with the organisation to ensure they can cover the scope of work required, or the Apprentice portfolio in third and fourth year. Then Irene can get to work.

Falkirk based company, Hilston and Bennett joinery manufacturer of bespoke timber windows and doors, are one such company that have benefitted from Irene’s matchmaking skills.

They have taken on one FVC Joinery MA in recent years - Liam McGarry (now in fourth year) - part way through his MA, and have also employed Liam Bell (first year) and taken on Ryan Gill on trial as a ‘Junior’ with a view to him starting in August as an Apprentice, and all have fitted in very well with the firm one their first jobs, with all three studying at the College.

The photograph outside the firm shows Irene (back left), Louise Gibbons (from Hilston and Bennett) and Graeme Williamson a Curriculum Manager in the Department of STEM and Construction at FVC, with the two Liams and Ryan.

Caroline Hogg, Head of Apprenticeships at FVC, said: “Sometimes things don’t work out for Modern Apprentices at the employers they start with in their apprenticeship. Our team of Apprenticeship Officers at FVC are on hand to support candidates and employers on alternative options and help seek employers to take them on to ensure they finish their apprenticeship.

“Hilston and Bennett have been extremely open to taking on MAs in this manner and it is benefitting from them enormously. Our team are more than happy to go above and beyond to match MAs up with willing firms in this manner to ensure they qualify with their trade after putting in so much hard work. It is also a win win for the firm taking them on as they will be getting an experienced MA who is hitting the ground running in the workplace and eager to do well with their new employers.”

Louise Gibbons, a Director of Hilston and Bennett, said: “Finding new apprentices has never been an easy task for any employer, but since we connected with Forth Valley College last year, it’s been a productive and enjoyable experience. From our initial assessment by Paul, and approval for the ‘Qualified Employer Status’, to meetings and discussions with Irene to find suitable candidates, it was all conducted in a professional and diligent manner, making sure the needs of our business were met in a short timeframe. We have already employed two apprentices this time round and plan for a further two later this year. As we grow, we hope to work together on a continuous basis.”

Hilston and Bennett Apprentices