Creating supportive workplace environments with Collaborative Apprenticeships

Peter, the Chairman of Caravan Guard, an insurance business specialising in the leisure industry, understood that apprenticeships were a valuable entry point into the world of work, having completed a similar programme in the insurance field after having left school.

Being passionate about investing in skills in his hometown of Halifax, and understanding the value that apprentices bring to a business, Peter was keen to offer others the same opportunities within his company that he had received after leaving school.

Caravan Guard began researching into how they could work with local partners to introduce apprenticeships into their business. During their search, they came across Calderdale College and saw that it offered Insurance Practitioner apprenticeships, which made it a perfect fit. They then worked with the College to advertise the roles and recruit the right people.

After working together to understand Caravan Guard’s needs, Calderdale College helped the business to recruit Megan, its first apprentice and a huge success story!

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Megan completed her Level 3 Insurance Practitioner Award in 2022 and is now employed full-time with the business as an Insurance Advisor. She felt that her apprenticeship was a great stepping stone into the world of work, and opened her eyes to a career path in a sector that she might not have otherwise considered.

Fast forward a year and Megan is now a Level 8 Insurance Advisor, making her one of just three team members to have progressed to this point, and the youngest in the business to hold this position.

As Hannah, HR Manager at Caravan Guard tells us: “Megan is a hugely valuable asset to the team. Thanks to her apprenticeship, she was able to gain a lot of industry knowledge and have the chance to apply this to her role as an Insurance Advisor.

“Because of this, she is now a go-to person within the company and often shares her expertise to help other members of the team progress. Her journey is testament to the value that apprentices can bring to a business, and how apprenticeships can provide you with a fantastic grounding at the beginning of your career.”

Seeing how well Megan had done with her apprenticeship, the business decided to hire Laura in September 2022. As a Level 3 apprentice, she works as an Insurance Advisor four days a week and the business also gives her one day a week to complete her college work while in the office. This means that she can easily ask for help and get support from other members of staff if needed.

In addition to this, three members of staff have recently taken advantage of the free Level 3 Mental Health First Aid training available through Calderdale College’s Collaborative Apprenticeships project.

Designed to help businesses like Caravan Guard to improve the quality of the apprenticeships that they offer, Hannah and Rob, the business’s Head of Operations, took part in the two day course which built on their existing Mental Health First Aid knowledge and helped to bring them up to speed with current regulations.

A few months later, the business also decided to enrol Kim on the same course. As an Accounts Assistant at Caravan Guard, Kim can act as an impartial advisor and provide support for those who may not want to go directly to HR if they are having problems.

When asked whether Caravan Guard would be willing to take on more apprentices, Hannah said: “Having seen how well Megan and Laura are doing, we’re really keen to increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities that we offer, especially now that we are able to provide our apprentices with an even more supportive working environment following completion of the Mental Health First Aid training.

“Thanks to our close working relationship with Calderdale College, we’ve been able to seamlessly introduce apprenticeships, with the College being on hand to support at all times. As well as hopefully recruiting more apprentices on the Insurance Practitioner route over the next few years, we’re also looking at introducing a new apprenticeship route in Data Security.

“We’d encourage any employer thinking about introducing apprenticeships or increasing the number of opportunities that they offer, to seriously consider it.” 

Claire Williams, Head of Employer Engagement at Calderdale College, said: “It’s always gratifying to hear about the positive experience that our employers have when it comes to introducing apprentices, and to also hear how well the apprentices are doing within their roles.

“We’re glad that Caravan Guard also recognised the importance of our free Mental Health First Aid training, and want to encourage other businesses to also take advantage, allowing them to further improve the support they can provide their apprentices.”

Collaborative Apprenticeships is managed by the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges (WYCC) and funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). Calderdale College is supporting the delivery of the project in partnership with local employers and training providers.

For more information on the apprenticeship support available through Calderdale College’s Collaborative Apprenticeships project, email [email protected]

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