The Apprentice: Martin Stewart
I joined Uin Foods in early 2017, working in the packing section. I spent about 12 months in that role before being offered an opportunity to join the firm’s modern apprenticeship programme, along with a transfer to the toppings section of the production line.
The apprenticeship came up at the right time for me and the way my role was changing. As I worked through the units, I began to see how it related to my job and I understood that this was really going to benefit me as I developed my skills.
It’s not sitting in a classroom and I found that hard at first. Working with the trainers makes you challenge and stretch yourself, and you need to find the right answers for yourself, instead of relying on someone telling you.
This helps you to relate all the learning to the job you’re doing. The process made me more mindful of my responsibilities.
One of the biggest lessons was personal – to get the most out of the programme, I had to accept there was additional work and commitment required from me. This helped me develop a more mature attitude to my working life.
The employer: John Whalen
At Uin Foods, we really recognise the value of our workforce, but it’s not always possible to simply pay everyone more.
Instead, we look for a range of different ways in which we can invest in our colleagues – and training and development are key.
The way the programme was set up means that individual employees can relate their training to their KPIs [key performance indicators] and drive straight through to quality improvements.
Individuals on the programme develop a wider sense of purpose in their jobs, a clearer understanding of Uin Foods’ own rules and procedures, and a better understanding of how the food industry works in general.
The trainers are skilled at ensuring the learners are the ones who develop – that they are stretched and challenged rather than being led throughout their training.
For us, it’s all about how well each learner develops over time and not just about reaching the end goal of the certificate. However, we never underestimate the value that our staff place on the achievement of that final award.