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'Happy employees work better'

To mark of National Apprenticeship Week, a forward-thinking Chief Executive talks about his focus on staff development and his positive experiences with apprentices at The Northampton College Business Centre.

To mark of National Apprenticeship Week, a forward-thinking Chief Executive talks about his focus on staff development and his positive experiences with apprentices at The Northampton College Business Centre.

David Pontin, CEO, Membership Collection Agency (MCA), Northampton has been investing in staff development since he set up his banking services company 21 years ago. He currently has four apprentices employed in Business Administration and Customer Service and funds most staff members on various other training programmes.

He said, ‘There are some fantastic young people out there with a lot to offer employers. That’s why I have always been keen to take on people who are just starting out in their careers and grow them in the business until the time comes for them to move on or until their vast skill set means we can’t afford them anymore. Before the Apprenticeship programme began I offered my own training scheme. Nowadays I work closely with The Northampton College Business Centre to recruit and train our apprentices. When I have a vacancy I let the College know my criteria so that they can provide suitable candidates for interviews. The system works very well and I have been very pleased.’

David firmly believes Apprenticeships offer huge benefits to employers. ‘I could shout about apprentices all day. Organisations do not have to commit a great deal of financial resource but I am the first to say that it’s definitely not about cheap labour. For most apprentices this is their first real job so we can effectively mould them to the needs of the business. It’s not the start of a course, it’s the start of a career whether that’s with us or eventually elsewhere. I want to make sure that whilst people work for me they are happy, and investing in development certainly makes for a motivated workforce. Happy employees work better. For example, one of my longstanding employees recently achieved a Masters Degree which we funded and now she now occupies a senior position in the company.’

David’s top tips are to:

- Work closely with the Apprenticeship provider so that they know the business needs

- Ensure you have a robust interview process so that employers can chose applicants that fit into the business

- Offer new apprentices a three-month trial

David added, ‘It’s all about finding the right people for your business then shaping them into valuable members of staff. If you find someone with a passion they will be unstoppable and more often than not, their Apprenticeship is just the beginning.’

More about Apprenticeships>