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TGt Meets... Tony Iles

We love talking to people who run businesses that have taken on apprentices. This TGt Meets... focuses on Tony Iles from Tonic Construction.

Why did you choose to take on an Apprentice?
We recognised around five years ago that there was potentially going to be a significant shortage of skilled workforce within the construction sector, and with an aging workforce it was clear to see that unless we started to pass on skilled knowledge sooner rather than later, it could have serious consequences for future generations at Tonic.

How did you go about finding an Apprentice to bring in to your business?
It started with the fathers within our own workforce enquiring about their sons and daughters joining Tonic, we now have eight father and son combinations on the company, which gives us great pleasure, the thought that our employees feel Tonic is a good place for their own children to start a career is very rewarding.

What are the benefits of employing an Apprentice?
The benefits are not necessarily a short term plus, however we can now see retrospectively our first apprentices matured and qualified, we can definitely see the long term benefits to Tonic, we see our apprenticeship scheme as a major factor in the longevity of the Tonic brand, and it gives huge satisfaction to see youngsters that turn up for an interview and are as green as green can be, then flourish into fine young adults with confidence and a skill set that will set them up for life.

What are the advantages of bringing in an Apprentice, over more conventional employment methods?
The key advantage for us is that you can train an apprentice to a company’s preferred quality and behaviour ethos, as opposed to employing bad habits and pre-existing attitudes that are very difficult to re-educate away from.

What role does your apprentice play in the day-to-day operation of your business?
Our apprentices play a huge role in the running of our business, we try to encourage very much a hands on approach to learning within the teams.

Were there any challenges you faced employing an Apprentice?
No not really, we get a very good uptake and as a result we are forming our own in house training academy, so we can up the amount of graduates we can take in future years.

How did the training your Apprentice received fit around their responsibilities in your business?
Tonic try to encourage a team spirit, so young apprentices are paired with very knowledgeable supervisors, but at the same time we are trying to get completed apprentices mentor new apprentices, this way our new graduates are trained in a real work environment and assume responsibility a lot earlier.

What happened once the Apprenticeship had finished?
We then have the choice of offering full time employment or not, and so far we have offered and retained every apprentice we have taken on, which is testament that the skill set the graduates are achieving fall within our very high standards.

What was it like working alongside the Apprenticeship provider?
Well I cannot comment, nor take any glory for this side of things, we have an absolutely superb H.R manager Allan Flippance, who is every bit as passionate about Tonic’s apprenticeship scheme as myself and he deals with all the day to day running of our graduates and providers.

What advice would you give another business that is interested in employing an Apprentice?
It gives such a feel good factor to the company having young blood joining us, and the benefits for the business long term are in our opinion immeasurable, so the only advice I would give to other business leaders, is start your own scheme straight away.


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