NEWS / ACE News / #NAW2021: We meet our apprentice employers

ACE News

10 FEB 2021


Top tips for employers from Atkins, Clancy Consulting and Mott MacDonald

National Apprenticeship Week, is rightly about encouraging apprentices, but we felt that we should also use this opportunity to shine the spotlight on the unsung heroes of our industry.  

Our sector is packed full of people whose dedication ensures that apprenticeships continue to be an industry-wide success story, year after year. We can’t feature them all, but we’re delighted to share our mini-interviews with Nicholas Wills (Atkins), Jane Milligan (Clancy Consulting) and Holly Savage (Mott MacDonald).

Nicholas Wills is apprenticeship development manager at Atkins which currently employs 315 apprentices across 30 different office locations.

How long has the business been involved in TAC?

We’ve been involved since the very early stages. As well as the many trailblazer groups developing and reviewing the apprenticeship standards, as employers we’ve helped develop, some of the most memorable moments come from the people we’ve met and worked with along the way.

The spirit in which we’ve collaborated with other employers, training providers and professional institutions to create great apprenticeships and experiences for those seeking to enter our industry is something I’m really proud to be a part of. 

What are your top-tips for apprentices?

Be curious, ask questions, be willing to learn and keen to get involved whilst remaining adaptable. Throughout any apprenticeship there will inevitably be changes or things you have to adapt to.

By reaching out to friends, family, colleagues, training provider etc. there are more people than you may necessarily think who are there to help you. It may feel daunting initially but from my experience, being brave and challenging the norms is needed now more than ever. Lastly and most importantly, be yourself. 

Jane Milligan is HR director at Clancy Consulting, an SME which currently employs 10 apprentices, 5% of the total employees. She also chairs TAC’s Northern regional meetings.

What are the benefits of working with apprentices?

They bring a different dynamic to the teams, balancing the ages in the team and bringing out the role model in the more senior engineers wanting to help them develop.

They have a fresh look on everything – there is no baggage and they are not afraid to ask questions. They bring more advanced IT skills to the business – for example they adapted to pandemic remote working far quicker than I did – and they can teach us a thing or two in that area. They are gaining experience as well as learning at college. We are educating the next generation of engineers – not only for Clancy Consulting but for the industry as a whole.

They are like gold dust at the end of the three years!

Any top-tips for other apprentice employers?

Remember most apprentices are just out of school, so it’s a different way of learning and they need a little extra help and time to adapt.

Having one member of the HR team as a key contact to support them with the ‘learning’ of working life, and ensure they sit in on their reviews with mentors and their training provider, so they know they are fully supported.

Providing extra support with presentation skills will help your apprentices approach their End Point Assessment with complete confidence.

Holly Savage is Senior Early Careers Advisor at Mott MacDonald which currently employs 140 apprentices across the UK.

What are the benefits for Mott MacDonald?

We have been involved with TAC since the beginning in 2010.TAC ensures our industry apprenticeships are high quality,  and therefore apprentices finish them with the skills the industry requires. It has been great to support the excellent work.

Apprenticeships help to diversify our workforce and encourage new people into the industry. All apprentices are assigned mentors who are responsible for the development of our apprentices. The role of mentor is incredibly rewarding and can be fantastic opportunity for them to develop their own skills, too.

One of my favourite things about apprenticeships is that it is such a wonderful opportunity for both business and individuals. Apprentices get the opportunity to earn while they learn – gaining both valuable work experience and qualifications. Companies get to attract new talent and it can also be an opportunity for them to support the local community.

Any top-tips for potential apprentices?

If you are interested in applying for an apprenticeship – definitely do it! it is a fantastic opportunity to get an education, while gaining work experience. Education alone does not give you as deep an understanding of the industry, or develop your skills, to the same extent. Apprenticeships really support your future employability by developing communication, teamwork, and business acumen.

When applying make sure that you are honest about your interests, as this helps us match you to the right opportunity. Doing an apprenticeship is a big undertaking, and therefore it is important that you are on the apprenticeship that is right for you.

Interested in finding out more about working with apprentices? ACE and EIC members can get in touch with Kimberly Murphy today.

TAC and ACE are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2021 with a series of articles, interviews and content celebrating apprentices and apprenticeships. Browse #NAW2021 related pieces now.