Thatchers equips next generation with skills needed for workplace

PUBLISHED: 08:21 04 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:49 04 March 2019

Thatchers' apprentices in one of the business' orchards.

Thatchers' apprentices in one of the business' orchards.

Archant

Thatchers Cider is celebrating its award-winning apprenticeship scheme which is transforming young lives and building a workforce for the future.

Managing director Martin Thatcher with Emma Cox and the apprenticeships after being given their award.Managing director Martin Thatcher with Emma Cox and the apprenticeships after being given their award.

The Sandford-based cidermaker launched its apprenticeship programme in September and it has already picked up an award.

The company’s Young Talent Programme won the IGD award for employability and Fiona Miller, from the charity, said judges were ‘blown away’ by the results of the scheme which is already reaching more than 10,000 young people.

National Apprenticeship Week runs from Monday to March 8 when communities are encouraged to celebrate the impact of apprenticeships on individuals, employers and the economy and Thatchers is leading the way with its bespoke programme.

Thatchers took on 17 apprentices in September and they are learning every aspect of the business and gaining invaluable experience to prepare them for the world of work.

Tom Baker and Tom Cross both attended Worle School and Weston College before signing up for the apprenticeship scheme.Tom Baker and Tom Cross both attended Worle School and Weston College before signing up for the apprenticeship scheme.

The company worked with schools and colleges to create the tailor-made apprenticeship scheme which designed to attract the best people and meet the skill needs of the cidermaker.

Emma Cox, training co-ordinator at Thatchers, said: “After going into schools and colleges, we found people had no idea of the breadth of jobs in the food and drink industry.

“We realised we were missing out on this massive pool of talent – young people leaving school.

“As a family business, it’s extremely important to train the next generation.

Jade Newth is training in the chef academy and learns on the job at The Railway Inn.Jade Newth is training in the chef academy and learns on the job at The Railway Inn.

“We also wanted to provide career opportunities for young people who felt they did not want to go to university but wanted to gain valuable experience in a real business with real opportunities.”

Thatchers has developed four academies for apprentices to enable them to learn the skills needed for different sectors of the business.

In the cider academy, students work towards a level two food and drink process operator apprenticeship, combined with a bespoke cider programme.

With the brand academy, students study for a level three customer service apprenticeship in partnership with Weston College, or a level seven finance assistant qualification.

Harriet Waldron training in the brand academy.Harriet Waldron training in the brand academy.

Students can also sign up for the chef academy – a level two commis chef apprenticeship with Weston College – or the sales academy.

The apprentices are mentored by staff at Thatchers and develop skills in three key areas – commercial, employability skills and technical knowledge.

Emma said: “They all have to understand how to get an apple and turn it into the finished product.

“It’s really important they understand the business and how we do what we do.

Minister of Skills, Anne Milton, visiting Thatchers Cider to learn about the apprenticeship scheme.Minister of Skills, Anne Milton, visiting Thatchers Cider to learn about the apprenticeship scheme.

“We’re not just teaching them to do a job but we are bridging the gap between work and school – to enable them to develop skills and maturity, awareness of the industry and helping them to become more independent.”

The Government is encouraging more businesses to offer apprenticeship schemes and any employer with a pay bill of more than £3million must pay a levy which is ring-fenced for the training and development of apprentices.

Thatchers has nothing but praise for its new recruits who have already made a huge impact on the company.

Emma said: “They are amazing. Since day one, all of them have impacted the company massively.

Tom Cross and Tom Baker are training in the cider academy.Tom Cross and Tom Baker are training in the cider academy.

“They bring in fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm – they have hit the ground running.

“They are not like work experience students, they are actually doing proper jobs in a real business.

“Their work ethic is fantastic and their commitment is outstanding. They are in every day, on time, going above and beyond.

“It’s not just like school here – they are working shifts in the team like any other member of staff. It’s been such a positive experience for us and it’s something we are heavily vested in.

“It’s been great for the development of our own staff as well.”

Apprentice Harriet Waldron, from Backwell, signed up for the scheme after spending a year travelling.

She said: “You get the opportunity to work your way around the business and see all aspects of it – it gives you a taste of everything.”

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