Creativity drives success for DRPG apprentices

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Where apprentices are concerned, one of the UK’s most successful creative and events agencies, DRPG, puts its money where its mouth is.

DRPG board member Richard Hingley started his career as an apprentice 20 years ago. He’s now the group’s Creative Director.

The company’s aim is to grow and nurture a constant pipeline of people and talent for the future, and over the last two years in particular, its apprenticeship scheme has been a big part in helping to support this.

The company, based at Hartlebury near Kidderminster, currently has 10 apprentices within its workforce of around 315.

Jez Light is Head of Learning and Development at the company. His approach has been to take the prescribed apprenticeship as the base, then build a much more intensive training programme around it to produce work-ready young people within 15 months, rather than the average three years.

“When our apprentices join they are given a really robust introduction to the company,” he said. “This includes understanding our values and behaviours, and our DRPG Essentials course – 14 hour-long training sessions to give them the rounded skills they need as individuals and which will help them in the workplace.

“Some are game-led, and they are designed to be fun. The apprentices can choose which ones they want to participate in, and we follow their sessions up with e-learning to reinforce what they’ve learned.”

This is particularly important in the creative sector the apprentices have joined, where the name of the game is deadlines and meeting and exceeding client expectations. This all takes good communication skills and common sense.

“There’s no point an apprentice knowing how to code a computer or save files and spreadsheets but not being able to have a conversation with another human being,” said Jez. “We make them proud to work for us and our retention is excellent.”

Each apprentice spends around 20 per cent of their working week learning. The rest of the time all of them are working directly on events, with four working directly in the events team and the others spread out across departments supporting them.

And DRPG’s investment is working. One apprentice, Tom Smith, 23, who is working in the company’s IT department, won both Higher Level Apprentice of the Year and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year in the county’s 2019 apprenticeship awards.

“Tom didn’t join as an apprentice but decided to follow that route when we offered it to him,” said Jez. “When he’d completed his first apprenticeship, he did a year of practical work and then decided to head back into studying and undertake a higher apprenticeship.

“It’s taken him five years to achieve but his hard work has paid off handsomely for Tom, and for the company.”

Phosters fosters training and support in Worcestershire

Last year, Kidderminster-based Phosters (FM) Ltd was named as the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Employer of the Year.

Phosters is a facility service provider offering building maintenance services across the UK and Europe.

With roots stemming back to 1918, the company is a leading provider within the industry. It has a management team with more than 100 years of collateral knowledge serving different markets and operations.

The company has been employing apprentices for around four years and has taken on 10 young people, almost all studying business administration with one accountancy apprentice.

Phosters employs apprentices with their future career in mind, offering a good training programme with excellent career prospects. It sees its apprentices as future leaders and is keen to offer them as much training and support as possible.

Alexandra Kavanagh, Head of Business Support at Phosters, said: “Apprentices are excellent employees. They offer innovative ways of thinking and are very committed. Apprenticeships are quite often our first point of call when recruiting and since 2017 we have offered degree apprenticeships which has been invaluable to the company.”

Phoster’s current degree apprentice is Cameron Hamilton-Patel who is completing a chartered manager degree apprenticeship. “Cameron has become an integral member of the team and has analysed and reviewed multiple budgets leading to cost savings and improved efficiencies across the business,” said Alex. “He is a great support to the business and we are excited to see where his apprenticeship takes him.

“One of the key things we pride ourselves on is the support we offer to our apprentices, in their working life and their personal lives too. If there is anything they wish to pursue, any difficulties they are experiencing we will always offer as much support as possible. Apprentices are the future and we are invested in supporting the young people in Worcestershire.”

Want to take on an apprentice? Find out how from the Hub

The Worcestershire Apprenticeships Hub helps employers implement apprenticeships in their organisations.

The Hub makes apprenticeships easy for small and medium-sized businesses. The team gives advice on many topics, from succession planning and talent management to choosing the right provider and apprenticeship standard, accessing grants to support them to recruit and supporting registration on the apprenticeship service.

The Hub also offers an impartial referral service to the right training provider, to help businesses recruit and develop their apprentice or upskill an existing employee through an apprenticeship.

It also helps employers to encourage the growth of apprenticeship opportunities and increase the number of young people becoming apprentices in Worcestershire. The Worcestershire Apprenticeships website currently has more than 3,000 employers listing their vacancies with around 110 training providers. or phone 0300 666 3666