To mark the 2016 National Apprenticeship Week (14-18 March), Nicola visited booming local electrical services firm Darke and Taylor on Friday to meet with apprentices and other staff.
For decades, Darke and Taylor has been committed to an exemplary employment structure which emphasises the importance of training – and retaining – apprentices as they progress through their careers. Of the 183 staff currently employed by the firm, 42 are apprentices. Even more remarkable is the fact that 80 per cent of the managerial staff started out as apprentices.
Nicola met with five of the trainees along with MD Paul McNaughton – who himself began his career as an apprentice at the firm 40 years ago – to discuss their hugely successful approach.
The Darke and Taylor model is a prime example of the main theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week: that “an apprenticeship can take you anywhere”, with a particular focus on higher skills to show how young people, entrepreneurs and businesses can “rise to the top” through traineeships and apprenticeships.
To manage their ongoing expansion, Darke and Taylor will be shortly moving to new premises in West Oxfordshire.
Nicola says Darke & Taylor should be an inspiration to SMEs across Oxfordshire. Putting in the time and money needed to train young apprentices, investing not just in the company but also their futures, is not just their apprenticeship plan, it’s their business plan.
And Darke and Taylor’s success speaks for itself. Their ongoing expansion just goes to show how effective it is to properly train and upskill apprentices, many of whom have gone on to become leaders in the firm themselves. A manager or director who has been given the time and effort by the company they now help to run will undoubtedly have more buy-in. The level of commitment from the staff is plain to see.
I wish them all the best going forward as they move into their new premises.
The drive to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in the UK has been central to the Government’s employment strategy since 2010. In addition to the two million apprenticeships created nationally in the last parliament, the Government has committed to creating a further three million by 2020. In 2014/15, the number of apprenticeship places in Oxford West and Abingdon rose by 15.1 per cent, from 530 to 610.