Getting good apprentices was becoming a challenge for Nissan (NMUK). In a fast-growing manufacturing environment, we needed to make sure that we could access the best there was - young people who would learn while contributing to our growth and development, and who would be part of the company going forward.
Enter Traineeships - focused training and work experience for young people leaving school without the skills and experience to get directly into Apprenticeships or other jobs - just what we needed. We very much want to keep the pipeline of young talent flowing through our Apprenticeship recruitment programme. However, not everyone is ready for an Apprenticeship when they leave school or college and Traineeships provide the flexibility for employers and young people to help them to prepare for the workplace.
Working with Traineeships is not like a taking an intern, it offers a structured training programme to the young people taking part and genuinely gives us access to a new pipeline of young talent, while being very cost-effective for our business.
A Traineeship is an education and training programme with work experience that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for. At its core are work preparation training, English and maths for those who need it, and a high quality work experience placement.
Working with our long-standing training partner, The NAC Group, we at Nissan developed content for a training programme that would deliver the skills, abilities and attitudes that would make young people work (and Apprenticeship) ready. For each manufacturing skill we take around 32 days to train young people with no prior experience, to the required standard to start in a job or Apprenticeship with us. The Youth Evolution Scheme (YES) Traineeship offers vocational training for auto manufacturing and inbound logistics.
This pre-training, before starting in employment with us, is really important and not only for the hands on skills and knowledge of the manufacturing environment it teaches; the on-the-job training gives our supervisors a really good chance to get to know the trainees and to evaluate their potential to add value to a team. The experience the trainees gain, gives them a chance to decide whether or not it's a job they'd really like to do. This way the people who go on to start Apprenticeships and jobs with us after completing a Traineeship know it's what they really want to do and are committed to the next step. But it's not just for the benefit of the young people. On-the-job training is two-way traffic. It's as much about informed choice for employers as the potential employees.
Within NAC, off the job training on simulated production lines requires YES trainees to work shifts and to take responsibility for their performance, whether manufacturing or supporting with inbound-to-manufacturing skills. Such simulated experiences give trainees the skills required to handle the same situation when it happens in real life, on the job in the manufacturing environment.
Many of the staff at our training provider, NAC, are ex-Nissan supervisors with complete insight into what is required for our business. By the time they've completed 11 weeks in NAC's training centres, YES trainees are ready to train in the workplace, further developing their employment capacity. At Nissan, trainees shadow workers on a live production line, watching and learning manufacturing skills in all areas of car manufacture from our 'body shop' (car shell construction), 'paint shop' (painting and rust proofing the car shell) to trim and chassis (fitting components e.g. engines, brakes, wheels and interior trim).
Team leaders and supervisors ensure that all trainees are capable of completing at least one manufacturing task to a standard operating procedure. As they undertake their placements, learning support continues to be available to trainees from NAC's qualified mentors - ex-Nissan employees who can work with both trainees and supervisors to maximise the YES Traineeship experience.
We fully understand the catch-22 situation in which young people find themselves - "can't get a job without experience: can't get experience without a job", and we're supportive of Government programmes, such as Traineeships, that will help to overcome this barrier into work.
Without doubt, we'd encourage other employers to take up Traineeships - and not just large organisations like us. Even taking on only one or two trainees and providing them with solid work experience placements can make a significant difference to a young person's employability and confidence.
The business advantages are significant. We reduce our recruitment and training costs and, importantly, our staff turnover. Feedback from the production line tells us that our supervisors love the enthusiasm the younger trainees bring to the job - they find their positive attitudes refreshing, and they like the fact that all trainees arrive in the manufacturing environment with the same standards of knowledge and training as each other because of the pre-employment training they receive. In this regard, their training prepares them very well.
Going forward, with long-term observation of trainees in the workplace, we will be able to recruit a workforce that we're confident will sustain the growth and development that NMUK has earned in a global market. Of the trainees we've worked with so far, all but one have gone on to careers either with us or within our supply chain. That's quite an achievement and speaks volumes for the potential that there is in strong partnership delivery.
My advice to another employer would be to choose their training partner very carefully - ideally it would be a partner with whom they already have a working relationship (we've worked with NAC for around 8 years) or someone with experience and who comes recommended. National Apprenticeship Service can give you advice on finding the right training provider. It's best to get involved with your training organisation right from the start so that the content of training is to your specification, and is delivered in a way that leads to the development of good quality Apprenticeship candidates. Employers should also make sure that they carefully select their supervisors for on-the-job training so that trainees are fully supported and can achieve their maximum potential.
At NMUK, we think that a good Traineeship like YES is the way forward for smart Apprenticeship recruitment; this way we are developing young people who are not quite ready for an Apprenticeship or to go into work, but who will really shine within our business on completion of the right structured training programme.
You can find out more about Traineeships by visiting apprenticeships.org.uk, or calling 08000 150 600. The National Apprenticeship Service will be able to support you throughout the process and identify an approved local training provider. A full list of eligible providers is available on the Skills Funding Agency website.