Gus Robinson Developments (GRD), of Hartlepool, runs an award-winning apprenticeship scheme that has trained and developed hundreds of young people for almost 40 years, many of whom have progressed to long and rewarding careers.
The business is supporting the Journal’s Proud to Back Apprenticeship campaign with a rallying call to all businesses to get on board.
Dan Robinson, chairman of GRD, said: “For our economy to thrive in the 21st century, we need an appropriate mix of academically educated individuals but equally importantly, a highly skilled, vocationally trained workforce.
“During difficult times, it’s a challenge for all employers to invest in apprenticeships but over the long-term, I sincerely believe that such investment reaps huge rewards. Not just for the individual, but for individual companies and the economy as a whole.”
“In Germany, they are leading the way in vocational training and education. They have an excellent model that allows young people to leave school and pursue a vocational, educational pathway that carries the same value in society as its academic equivalent. It’s generally considered to be an exemplary system and could well form the basis of a similar approach here in the UK.”
One fifth of the 100 employees at Gus Robinson Developments have either been an apprentice or are currently on such a scheme.
And the career progression is there for all to see with several former apprentices clocking up more than 20 years with the firm and some with more than 30 years’ service.
Among them is the company’s financial director Jeanette Henderson, who joined Gus Robinson Developments in 1982 as an administration apprentice.
She said: “When I started I had no aspiration to be the financial director, but Gus recognised some ability in me and supported me through training and nurtured and encouraged me.
“That’s always been the ethos here and it’s something that the success of the business is firmly founded on.
“It breeds consistency, loyalty and pride in what we are trying to do here.”
Robinson, who took over the running of the business after his father Gus died two years ago, said the company’s excellent staff retention rate demonstrated the success of its apprenticeship programme.
He added: “My dad realised the need to balance skills and education.
“He saw training as really being the key to successful employees and a successful business.
“For 38 years we have had a leading edge apprenticeship scheme and for as far back as I can remember we have consistently brought quality apprentices through the business.
“Any campaign which supports, recognises and nurtures the value of apprentices is to be encouraged.
“As a country, if we are going to achieve a leading edge goods, export-based recovery, then we should be at the forefront of educating and training a workforce that is fit to meet this task. I am delighted and proud to support the Journal’s Proud to Back Apprenticeship.”