Could you help to develop an electrical trainee?

21st April 2021
Alex Lynn

As restrictions ease and the UK economy well and truly starts moving again, growing electrical businesses can now get their plans for development back on track. With the unprecedented financial strain putting many plans of recruitment on hold in 2020, electrical businesses are now starting to consider their recruitment and growth strategies again.

However, many may not have considered the positive impact of recruiting a trainee to join their team. Equally, those who have considered it may be debating whether to take the plunge, unsure of whether they have the right skills to successfully mentor a trainee.

Here, Mick Fitzgerald, Director, Options Skills, has explored the skills you need to make a successful mentor, and the myriad benefits of recruiting a trainee for your business.

The past year may have left aspirational businesses unable to pursue their plans for growth, due to the unstable financial situation. The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the UK is allowing these businesses to re-visit their growth strategies, including their recruitment and  team growth plans.

So, how do you know it’s time to grow your team?

  1. You want to spend less time ‘on the tools’ – if you’re finding yourself spending too much time ‘on the tools’, working in your business rather than on your business, it may be time to grow your team and recruit junior team members. 
  2. You’re overwhelmed with work – do you find yourself constantly working and doing more hours than you expected to or would like to? Or perhaps your work-life balance isn’t how it should be, and you’d like to spend more time with your family. It’s time to think about growing your team.
  3. You are approaching retirement – if you’re starting to think about retirement – perhaps in the next five to ten years – and you want your business to continue after you put down the tools, think about recruiting a junior team member to leave a legacy for your skills – and know your business is in safe hands.
  4. You want to carry on your success – you may have had lots of success recently, and your business is continuing to grow. To keep up the momentum, you need to think about investing in growing your team to boost your capacity.

The cost of growing your team

In the UK, the average cost for per hire is £3,000. When using a recruitment agency, this cost can be even higher, with the fee generally being around 20-30% of the final salary of the new employee. With this in mind, some growing electrical businesses may be concerned about investing in recruitment, as they may want to keep costs low following a year of financial uncertainty.

Electrical trainees – those who have decided to pursue a career in the electrical industry and are currently looking to develop their skills portfolio to achieve their full qualification – can make a fantastic addition to any growing electrical business.

Recruiting a trainee is a cost-effective and valuable way of growing your electrical team. Some training providers will also match you with the right trainee for you, without any fees.

As a business owner or sole trader operating within the electrical industry, you might be hesitant to become a mentor. However, it’s likely you already have all the skills and characteristics you need to effectively pass on your expertise and train the next generation of tradespeople.

What do you need to be a successful electrical mentor?

  1. Experience and knowledge of the trade ­– to be a successful mentor, the most important thing you’ll need is knowledge and experience in electronics. Quite simply, you need to have the knowledge yourself to be able to pass it on to a trainee. Your first-hand experience will enable you to give a trainee all the ‘on the job’ skills they need to add to their theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom.
  2. Commitment to the trade – to be an inspirational mentor and set the right precedent for trainees, you need to be committed to the trade and passionate about your work. If you are, you’ll find it much more enjoyable to share your craft with a trainee, inspiring them to do their work to the best of their ability. 
  3. Patience and understanding – like any teacher, patience and understanding are key when mentoring a trainee. Trainees are there to learn and develop their skills, so it may take a little time to get them up to speed with your way of working. Remember it’s a process of growth, and trainees will quickly pick up the crucial skills they need to be successful and help your business grow.
  4. Driven to grow your business – if you’re driven to grow your business, it will give you the motivation you need to continue to work with trainees to develop their skillset and improve the service they can offer for your business.

What are the benefits of recruiting a trainee?

Now you know the skills needed to be a successful mentor, you might be thinking, ‘what’s in it for me?’.

Here’s a few of the key benefits of recruiting a trainee:

  1. They’re invested in themselves – through their investment in training, trainees display a clear dedication to their personal growth. This means they will prove to be a committed and reliable team member, with a desire to learn and help you to grow with your business.
  2. Adult trainee means adult attitudes – more often than not, those pursuing a traineeship are people who have changed career paths and chosen to retrain in the electrical trade. They are generally someone who has plenty of previous experience in a working environment. As such, they are likely to have a mature attitude to the workplace and will fit easily into your business. 
  3. Find someone who fits in with your culture – when recruiting new team members, it can be difficult to find someone who has the right cultural fit and the soft skills needed to be successful in your business. Often, adult trainees will have a wide variety of soft skills, with many training providers offering additional training to ensure this.
  4. Widen your reach and grow your business – more team members allows you to widen your reach, with the capacity to delight more clients with your services. This will allow you to earn additional income, which can then be invested back into further business growth.
  5. Leave a learning legacy – by working with a trainee, you will be training the next generation of tradespeople. This will allow you to ‘leave your mark’ on the industry and leave a learning legacy, even long after you retire.

Could you mentor an aspiring electrician?

Although there are some specific skills you’ll need to successfully mentor the next generation of tradespeople, the key is the desire to grow your business and leave behind a learning legacy.

Any experienced tradesperson has a wealth of valuable knowledge they can share with trainees and junior team members.

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