DELIVERING EXCELLENCE THROUGH LEARNING: APPRENTICESHIPS Q&A WITH CERIAN ROBERTS-LEWIS

National Apprenticeship Week is once again upon us. The annual week-long celebration showcases the contribution apprenticeships make to companies across the country. Here at Keyline Civils Specialist, we want to mark the occasion by shining a light on how apprenticeships help our business. Whether it’s providing more knowledgeable support to our customers, or growing our talent base and helping us develop motivated, skilled and qualified colleagues, apprentices enable us to maintain our exceptional service levels. 

We caught up with Cerian Roberts-Lewis, an Apprenticeship Coach at Keyline to find out more:

HI CERIAN! SO, WHAT EXACTLY DOES YOUR ROLE AS AN APPRENTICESHIP COACH ENTAIL?

I’m a dedicated coach for our level two apprentices, so I’m tasked with looking after new recruits entering the business when they start an apprenticeship. I’m in charge of putting together the different curriculums, designing online learning sessions and creating engaging content for those on our apprenticeship courses. I’ll also help out in ensuring that apprentices feel supported, whether that’s in one-to-one training, group discussions or sessions with their managers. No two days are ever the same and my daily activities change constantly, but it’s always related to helping apprentices progress within the business. 
 
WHAT SORT OF APPRENTICESHIPS DOES KEYLINE OFFER?

There’s a really wide range of options open. We’re able to offer apprenticeships across every aspect of our business, from working in the branch or warehouse, to business support functions. The courses go from level two, which help to teach the skills needed to be a great colleague, all the way up to level seven - where we instil the qualities needed to be an effective and inspirational leader. Ultimately, we want to make sure that those working within the company are able to find the best role for their particular skillset and that’s often made possible due to us having apprenticeships available to support progression into as many different roles and levels as possible.

Ensuring that we continue to provide high-level apprenticeship opportunities is a constant process, which we’re always looking to add to. Across all of our different programmes, we strive to ensure that apprentices develop a strong understanding of related technical information, as well as the ability to apply that knowledge practically in-branch, or in their daily work. At the end of the day, we’re committed to making sure our customers consistently receive the exceptional service they expect from us, so it’s important that apprentices are getting those skills through training. 
HOW DO APPRENTICES HELP KEYLINE'S CUSTOMERS?

Apprentices offer so many clear benefits for customers, particularly in these current difficult times. Staff who undertake our apprenticeships come out the other side with a really well-rounded professional development and are able to offer even higher levels of customer service in their interactions. Similarly, it helps our business to run more effectively and more efficiently, enabling us to deliver more informed interactions in-branch, or over the phone or email. Finally, as the world of civils becomes more diverse, apprentices help us to follow suit and ensure that our business represents our customer base and its thinking more accurately.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR AN APPRENTICESHIP AT KEYLINE?

Anyone can do an apprenticeship! We work hard to make sure our apprenticeship training programmes are as accessible as possible. To this end, it doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your career, or whether you work inside, or outside of the business, you can still apply. The main thing we’re looking for are enthusiastic individuals that are ready for an exciting challenge with invaluable real-world work-experience.

It’s also really simple for colleagues that already work at Keyline to put themselves forward for an apprenticeship. They’re able to apply for the position, or can be recommended by their line manager. So, it gives colleagues more flexibility. For example, if they’re working in a branch, but fancy their hand at account management or something else, then it’s possible to give it a try. Likewise, if they want to improve their skills and knowledge in their existing role we can also support them.

Apprenticeships are also really beneficial for those looking to undertake management roles, who might not currently have the experience. With our apprenticeship programmes, these individuals can still be given the support they need on that journey. All in all, apprenticeships at Keyline offer an amazing opportunity to make those important learning experiences in a low-pressure environment.
WHY SHOULD APPRENTICES CHOOSE TO WORK WITH KEYLINE?

There’s a lot of reasons to make Keyline the first choice when looking into apprenticeships. As mentioned before, recruits can start an apprenticeship in almost any area of our business, and will receive a dedicated programme and thorough training. On top of that, we take a really holistic approach to learning and want our apprentices to get familiar with all the different areas that make up our business. In doing so, we’re able to help apprentices become more versatile professionals and gain important insights into how a company like this operates.

Another big reason is that there’s no glass ceiling in this business. Regardless of how you end up in the company, once you’re here, you’re able to go as far as you want. We have former apprentices who now work in really senior roles across a range of different areas - for example Keyline’s Managing Director started his career as an apprentice. We have a great Managing Director and senior management team who take a genuine interest in helping less experienced colleagues succeed in their roles. As such, it’s a really positive working culture, where apprentices feel empowered to be all that they can be. 
HOW ARE YOU ADAPTING THE APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMMES IN LINE WITH COVID-19? 

As soon as COVID-19 hit we were adapting the delivery of our apprenticeship programmes. We knew we had to move resources online, but ensure that the courses remained engaging for our users. We have worked with Google to transform our previous traditional delivery into digital delivery with Google Classroom and other Apps. It’s testament to our commitment to providing the best possible apprenticeship training, no matter the circumstances. Despite the changes, all those undertaking our programmes are still on course to receive really solid pass marks in line with the Government’s apprenticeship standards.

If anything, this year has reaffirmed the importance of investing in training and development. Even in hard times, it’s vital to keep talent coming through the ranks and ensuring the regeneration of the business. At the same time, we’re strengthening our efforts to make sure that those doing an apprenticeship are developing a wide range of important, applicable skills, which will put them in good stead no matter the business landscape. 
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