TrustFord’s Human Resource Director Sharon Ashcroft discussed the company’s goals for the coming year and how apprentices were helped to catch up after the pandemic

What are the key education and training requirements for people entering the company?

New starters all need to demonstrate our values and that they can be part of a family. Some will also need to have certain qualifications, an example being a technician who has to train for three years.

How do you source talent for your organisation?

We use traditional agencies, social media, word of mouth and internal recommendations.

Which method for sourcing talent works best and why?

Recruiting on behaviours, not skills and experience, widens up a whole new pool of people who would not have been previously considered and we also sift blind; i.e. all personal identifiable data is removed from applications before they are sent to the recruiting manager which means no one is deselected because of their gender etc.

How many apprenticeships do you carry out?

Usually, we take about 80 each year, both technical and in finance, this did reduce significantly during the pandemic ,but even then we took on approximately 19 apprentices within the finance function. Since then we have worked hard to get back to our previous intake numbers across the business

What impact did COVID-19 have on the apprenticeships?

Most of them fell way behind with their training as they were out of the business for long periods of time

What did you do to catch-up with apprentice training that’s been missed due to the pandemic?

It was really difficult, one thing we did was extend all of the contracts for apprentices and revisited all of the training once we were in a safe position to do so, to ensure we covered any gaps in their learning

What leadership development programmes do you run so staff can go further in their careers and the business?

We  launched our Future Leaders programme which gives ambitious colleagues the skills and experience they need to move into management positions within the group.

Targeted at current Grade 6 (Team Leaders) and Grade 7 (Sales Executives and Technicians) colleagues, the Institute of Leadership and Management programme, conducted through e-learning, virtual classrooms and on-the-job assessments over a 12-14 month period, started in April 2021. Colleagues receive a Level 3 Management Apprenticeship on completion of the programme.

What is your key focus in the near future and why?

Diversity and inclusion to ensure that our workplace reflects society – which sadly isn’t the case [at the moment] – because as data and research demonstrates, there are positive associations between the quality and financial performance of diverse teams within an organisation.

How are you going to go about meeting your diversity and inclusion focus?

It’s a marathon not a sprint. We have a melting pot of ideas which I have now put into a strategic plan. Part of that plan is a dedicated resource to purely focus on this in the short term.

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