“Apprenticeships allow us to train people the right way for our business,” says Suzanna Vandervelden, Director of Rent Mobility Ltd.
The Rugby based firm runs two stores selling, renting and repairing mobility aids which make a difference to people’s lives, either helping people to get around or making everyday tasks around the home easier.
Giving the customer the right advice and good service are absolutely essential to the business, and it can take many years to learn about the range of products available.
“Apprenticeships give us the opportunity to take someone on, train them and give them the time to build up very specific product knowledge,” explains Suzanna.
“There are a wide range of aids available and it’s vital that we not only know what the product can do but also if it’s suitable for the customer. As a family run business, it is important that we send our customers away with the right product.”
Suzanna says that apprenticeships and the training opportunities that come with them have brought benefits to her business, which employs six people.
“It is a cost-effective way of training new staff – as a small firm we would have struggled with the costs of getting someone up to speed – but apprenticeships should never be regarded as cheap labour. You have to commit yourself to ensuring that the apprentice gets as much out of it as possible too.”
For Rent Mobility’s latest recruit, twenty-year-old Lauren Vick, an apprenticeship has enabled her to earn and learn while establishing a career.
“I knew I wanted to get qualifications and work experience behind me but I didn’t want to be in a school environment,” explains Lauren.
Thanks to a partnership with Heart of England Training, the Rent Mobility team are gaining NVQ qualifications as part of their work-based training.
Apprentice Lauren is currently studying for an NVQ in Customer Service and is looking at what options to study next, director Suzanna is studying for a Level 5 in Management and former apprentice Sean has completed his retail qualification.
“The NVQs are a good way to prove what you can do,” says apprentice Lauren. “I didn’t think I’d be good at office management but I have surprised myself. The fact that I can study at my own pace has made me more confident as a learner.”
In fact, Lauren’s confidence has grown across the board and despite feeling shy at first on the shop floor, Lauren has established a good rapport with customers.
Suzanna says proudly, “People come in and ask for Lauren because they know they will get good customer care and advice.”
Suzanna’s advice for any business considering an apprentice is to be flexible and to think about the long term. “Although you may have a specific job role in mind, it’s important to discover the talents that your apprentice may have. Remember that you are training apprentices up for a proper career, not the odd jobs like washing up.”
She adds, “And don’t miss out on the training opportunities. NVQs, which we get funding for, add value to the business and make our staff feel valued too. The NVQs have also brought the team closer together as we are supporting each other while we study.”