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The Apprentice - hire or fire?

We’re all familiar with The Apprentice and the hire and fire vision of business that it portrays. On the good side it makes business look exciting, a dog eat dog world in which only the best survive. On the downside it misrepresents 99.9% of businesses who take a more positive view of the importance of engaging their staff.  Which is just as well, because according to Engaging for Success published by BIS earlier this year, companies with high levels of employee engagement improved 19.2 per cent in operating income while companies with low levels of employee engagement declined 32.7 per cent.  Maybe Sugar Enterprises Inc. is the exception to the rule. 

But what of the Apprentices themselves?

The government looks increasingly to be pinning its hopes on the National Apprentice Scheme – to encourage young people to combine employment with education by gaining qualifications as they work.  The problem is that despite Sir Alan’s best endeavours many young people still associate apprenticeships with panel beating or plumbing.  The concept of an apprenticeship in a service industry has yet to take shape.  Meanwhile, I suspect that many businesses would struggle to understand how an apprentice as opposed to a graduate might benefit their business, and be put off by what might be required of them at a time when, quite frankly, they’ll be focusing with all their might on keeping their businesses growing and profitable.

What’s the view out there – would you take on an Apprentice?  And if so, what would you look for?