Interview: Sony UK Tec discusses setting up an apprenticeship scheme

Many businesses see apprenticeships schemes as a way to grow their workforce and expertise while investing in the talent of the future.

For Pencoed-based electronics manufacturer Sony UK Tec, apprentices form an important part of its business. Director of professional service Gerald Kelly talks about how to set up an apprenticeship scheme. 

TD: How do you set up your apprenticeship scheme to deliver for your business and for the learner?

GK: “It is of the utmost importance to us that our apprentices achieve the maximum from our internal scheme. We aim to ensure that they develop the confidence and skills to not just enhance their own career prospects, but to add to and boost Sony UK TEC’s already impressive reputation for innovation.

“Through our Sony Wales Academy, we are dedicated to the training and development of our staff, and we ensure that our apprentices receive training beyond what they learn in their day-to-day job. 

“This means our apprentices are confident they’re working towards their career goals and receiving training relevant to them. But it also means we are able to tailor their training toward our business and ensure all areas are covered. This helps us retain our future engineers and ensure there is a line of succession in place.”

TD: What aspects of your apprenticeship scheme are particularly innovative or effective?

GK: “As a business which features a vast variety of different departments, we believe that it is vital that our apprentices work across all of Sony UK TEC’s teams to ascertain which role is best suited to their skills and interests.

“As such, we rotate our apprentices across various departments to enable apprentices to have a wider business understanding and to learn about multiple functions across the engineering division. By doing this we can more accurately work out where our apprentices are best suited, and which areas they may need to develop in.

“We also carry out weekly apprenticeship meetings across all levels, including those in their first year to those in their last year, as we believe it is important for them to engage with their colleagues in order to feel valued and included. 

“This also allows us to receive direct feedback and allow our Sony Wales Academy to cater to their needs and adapt the scheme accordingly.”

TD: What challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?

GK: “The STEM skill gap is one of the biggest challenges, not just Sony UK TEC is facing, but businesses across the industry as a whole.

“In order to tackle this, we undertake a school visits programme to help engage young people in STEM subjects before they’re even at the age of choosing their apprenticeship. 

“The nature of the manufacturing and technology industry is also that it is constantly evolving, which can also present challenges for us.

“However we ensure that our apprentice scheme is flexible enough that we can adapt it to reflect any industry trends or changes. By doing this we ensure that our apprentices are always at the forefront of the latest innovations, but also that we as a businesses develop the skills and knowledge we need from them.”