I wish apprenticeships had been widely available when I was young! Just think, I could have avoided thousands of pounds worth of debt trying to figure out if I wanted to study Science or Business. Too young an age for such a costly experiment and I'm still paying for it!
I finally graduated with a degree in Science; loved the subject but couldn't see myself wearing a white coat and working in a lab all day long, and so I made the decision to enter into the corporate world. Seven years later, I am working for Resource Productions, a film and video production company, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it!
Resource Productions is more than just a business - it operates as a social enterprise with a mission to offer young people opportunities to explore their creative side and realise their skills, achievements and career ambitions within the film and media sector. It is far from the easiest industry to tap into and working with young people as an objective gives a real edge to our creativity.
We work with a number of enthusiastic, young, talented individuals who we have seen grow and develop. Some are still climbing the media mountain, some have parked their talent or turned it into a hobby and some are still going strong, working as freelancers, spreading their creativity and achieving their goals. In addition, we wanted to give young people a chance to experience a full working environment within the industry and the best way for a small business like ours to achieve this was through offering an Apprenticeship programme. This is when I began my journey of learning about the power of vocational training. It is an educational journey for both the employer and the apprentice and one, we at Resource Productions truly relish.
Each apprentice brings with them a mind bursting with ideas, a fresh vision of different perspectives and a mouthful of opinions and views. I simply love the lack of inhibition and the innocuous comments which provide real meaty 'constructive feedback' as it is formally known to businesses. However, it is their eagerness to learn (and earn, let's not forget) and our eagerness to educate and train that motivates us to continue to recruit apprentices.
Developing young people and preparing them for their career journey is the core ethos of our organisation, supporting them in learning and helping them develop both professionally and personally and seeing them grow and take on more and more responsibility is an achievement and a proud moment for any employer.
Being within the creative industry, we are fortunate that we can offer our apprentices rounded, and so I am told, enjoyable experiences within all areas of the business; from working on a film set, organising events and screenings, drawing up contracts and leading youth workshops.
Our current Apprentice, Amanda, has been great! She is full of ideas, which we make the most of, and she shows real initiative and willingness to progress in all areas. She now manages our Work Experience Scheme, which she developed and implemented herself, and now all work experience students report directly to her. This has allowed her to develop her leadership and project management skills and for us, it allows us to offer her bigger projects.
Two of our business objectives for this year were to decrease our correspondence response time and to increase our engagement via social media networks. Amanda achieved both within six months of her starting post. Employers must understand and accept that every Apprentice is different; their skills, abilities and level of knowledge, however, if you invest the time, you will gain a dedicated employee.
To any employer, SME, Corporate or Micro, provide a nurturing learning environment and your return on investment will be tenfold. You will receive an injection of energy, enthusiasm and commitment which will motivate other members of staff, and what every business likes to hear, increased productivity!
Apprenticeships are rapidly becoming a popular option and I can clearly see why.
Like I said, I only wish I had been offered such an opportunity.
Follow Mariam Rafiq on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ResourceProds