A NATIONAL fire safety business based in the North East is harnessing the burning ambition of youth with the recruitment of four new apprentices.
Sunderland firm MacDonald Martin Ltd, specialists in all aspects of fire and electrical safety and security systems, sees the injection of new blood into the workforce as the logical next step in its evolution.
The apprentices have been recruited to bolster the firm’s administration, electrical engineering, and fire management teams and add further support to the business’ burgeoning client list.
The scale of growth has been such that MacDonald Martin recently extended its Sunderland HQ, adding office space to accommodate its growing team, and is in talks with new clients that could see them open a new base outside of the North East, creating jobs and further apprenticeship opportunities.
Caitlyn Dodds, Ryan Gilchrist, Michael Stubbs and Tom Whiffen all successfully started apprenticeships with the business, after exploring various other employment and educational opportunities.
Michael, 19, an apprentice electrical engineer, said he’s already looking forward to his apprenticeship and the doors it will open to new professional experiences and challenges.
He said: “I haven’t been with MacDonald Martin for long, but I already enjoy working here. It feels like I have a career ahead of me. I’m looking forward to the day when I’m qualified and on the roads with my own van, that would be great!”
Michael was training as an electrician at college, a common route into apprenticeships, but MacDonald Martin apprenticeships are not only for those who have received further education.
Ryan, 17, is an apprentice admin assistant, starting this month after deciding sixth form wasn’t for him.
He said: “The hands-on experience of an apprenticeship makes learning far more enjoyable. I’m learning exactly what my employer needs me to, without stressful full-on study needed for A Levels.”
MacDonald Martin has been recruiting apprentices for nearly three years, with its first admin apprentice now fully-qualified and moving on to a foundation degree.
Emma Trafford, 20, decided on the apprenticeship route instead of heading to university.
She said: “I really didn’t want to leave for university, so the apprenticeship meant I could stay with such a friendly and welcoming team while improving my skills and continue learning at the same time.
“The apprenticeship route provides real opportunity to work your way up through the business quickly because you’re getting the skills and experience you need, not to mention building relationships with suppliers and clients in the process.”
Andy Trafford, director of MacDonald Martin, said that the apprentices have already proved invaluable, ensuring the business has the next generation of the workforce work-ready and skilled, while also providing a fresh insight into operating a business in the modern day.
He said: “We have recently been shortlisted for the Durham, Sunderland and South Tyneside North East Business Awards for the Digital and Social Media award, and that is mainly down to our apprentice Emma who has taken the lead with our social media accounts and, with her knowledge of platforms like Twitter, has improved attendance to the safety courses we offer.
Since the company’s building was extended at the back end of last year, the team have been able to offer regular fire and first aid courses at the office in Sunderland – training 74 people since the beginning of January – helping people not only become safer in their workplaces, but also giving them vital everyday life skills.
Mr Trafford said: “We are dedicated to our apprentices beyond their training – we want to keep them with us and help them progress and develop a career here, and grow the business as they grow their skills and knowledge. It doesn’t make sense to us to invest in their skills just to wave them off at the end of their training.”
MacDonald Martin apprentices regularly travel to client properties that they protect across the UK. Andy believes the experience can inspire them and helps them feel part of the team.
Mr Trafford added: “Apprenticeships are a fabulous opportunity for youngsters looking to start a career. We’ve found a lot of young people lack skills that simply can’t be taught in a classroom – like dealing with a client on the phone and general people skills – so having them in the office is a continual learning curve and taking them to client meetings or to view properties is the first time they will have ever stayed away from home.
“This is the kind of responsibility and independence that apprentices should experience to develop their skills. We’re proud that people enjoy working with us, and that is in part down to the fact that, whether they’ve been with us ten minutes or ten years, we genuinely care about them and their development.”
MacDonald Martin was founded by Andy Trafford, an ex-fire fighter, and is a family-run business that has been trading for 13 years.
For more information about MacDonald Martin Ltd, visit www.macdonald-martin.co.uk.