'Why we got involved with Norwich for Jobs': An Employer Testimony by Louise Howlett, Commercial Director at RA Brown Heating Services Ltd

Why we got involved with Norwich for jobs from Louise Howlett, Commercial Director at RA Brown Heating Services Ltd

We have been involved with Norwich from the beginning as we already had a strong apprenticeship programme in place when the scheme began. I used to work in the field of vocational training many years ago and saw the benefits of helping young people get a foothold into the world of work by giving them a structure of an NVQ that is helpful for both the employer and the young person.

 From a business perspective running a specialist heating company where it is very difficult to hire engineers with the right skills to install heat pumps we made a business decision a long time ago to ‘grow our own’. We have a trained a high proportion of our engineers from scratch. We currently have 5 apprentices in total out of a staff team of only 20.

Of our current team of qualified engineers 3 out 5 were trained in house. Last year for the first time we took on a non Plumbing and Heating apprentice, we employed a young man Daniel as a Warehousing Assistant as we are expanding the retailing side of our business. He is working towards a Warehousing NVQ. Daniel had not found the right niche up to that point after leaving school and taking several courses.

We think that employers that don’t think investing in young people is worthwhile are being short sighted – we can’t complain if the skills we need aren’t out there if we’re not prepared to train young people in those areas. This fits with the ethos of Norwich for Jobs.

As a business we also like to give something back to the community, as we recruit young people we also have knowledge to pass onto young people about what employer are looking for in terms of CVs, presentation and interview skills we are more than happy to go to the job centre to pass on tips and ideas directly to young people or provide opportunities for work tasters.

I think it is so difficult for young people to get ideas about what they want to do if they have no contact with workplaces. After one session at the job centre we provided a young man with a taster day as a ‘plumber’ it helped him decide that perhaps that wasn’t what he wanted to do! It sound negative but it’s valuable to find that out before you spend time working on a foundation course at City College.

My advice to young people is really look at what you are good at and what you love doing and try to get some work experience in a company that has jobs where you can pursue your dreams.

Another tip I give to unemployed young people is go out and get any kind of job to get into the routine of getting up for work and increase your confidence – working in a Supermarket or a fast food restaurant might not seem like a career move but – it’s a start in the working world.

Some young people have big barriers to getting a job and as an small employer we can’t help every person with every challenge but it is satisfying if you can provide some advice to help someone move in the right direction – that is why we support Norwich for Jobs

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