Having started his career as an apprentice, Jonathan Brook, Director at Huddersfield Dyeing,is well placed to champion the merits of training and apprenticeships.
When Jonathan finished college, he wanted to ‘learn and earn’ and this was his first introduction to the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence. “I didn’t want to go to university as I wanted to get into work so I approached the Textile Centre of Excellence,” said Jonathan. “They had an apprenticeship at Brook Dyeing so I was working four days a week with a one day release at Bradford College. I also did an evening course in business management. I was earning and learning on the job in different roles gaining practical and work experience and learning theory and the management side.”
In 2008 Jonathan became a Director of Huddersfield Dyeing which currently has 28 employees. “We have a need to develop a new skilled workforce as the current employees come up to retirement,” said Jonathan. With this in mind, Jonathan approached the Huddersfield Textile Centre of Excellence for assistance in recruiting new employees and apprentices.
“They helped us with the initial recruitment process and in October 2013 we took on two young lads for a six week trial though a pre-apprenticeship programme,” said Jonathan. “It meant that we could give them work experience in the business while the programme paid them £3.50 per hour for them to work with us.”
Danny Trew, 21, from Huddersfield, was one of the new recruits. “When I left school, I did some building work for a while but then I was unemployed for two years,” said Danny. “I went into Connexions every day and one day they told me about the Textile Centre of Excellence and this pre-apprenticeship programme. I really wanted the job and I fought for it. After the six week trial, I started full-time and now I am a paid employee and I really like what I do.”
Jonathan encourages other employers to consider training and apprenticeship programmes for their workforce. “I think there is a fear of change but this negative is actually the biggest positive,” said Jonathan. “With an apprentice, you are getting someone with no preconceived ideas so if you put some time and effort into them, they can eventually work to the company’s way of thinking. I think people feel they will have to spend a lot of time looking after an apprentice but they are not silly, they just require direction and support.”
Danny has his sights set on becoming a manager in the future and is clearly an asset to Huddersfield Dyeing. “With government financial assistance now in place for apprenticeships, there is even more benefit for both the employer and apprentice,” said Jonathan. “The process might seem quite daunting, particularly if you are a smaller business but the benefits certainly outweigh any negatives.”