Knowledge On Tap

by | May 1, 2024 | Training & Development

Cornwall Group’s Chair Mark Mitchell, and HR and marketing apprentice Maisie Simpson discuss why apprentices are a sound investment.

Cornwall Group is into the second decade of what they refer to as their ‘apprenticeship journey’. Across all group companies (Mackenzie Glass, Cornwall Manufacturing, commercial glazing and retail arm Cornwall Glass & Glazing, and Forward Glass), and all sites, apprentices play an important role in the growth of the company, and represents its investment in the future.

“Back in the 1980s, we embraced what would have been called the YTS scheme,” Cornwall Chair Mark Mitchell says. “And we’re very proud to be working with colleagues at all sites from the Isles of Scilly, right up into our new Birmingham branch.”

Mark Mitchell

About 20% of all Cornwall Group colleagues joined via the apprenticeship programme, 95% of which have been with the group for 5+ years.

Apprentices have gone on to become supervisors, technical representative, senior IT technicians, project leaders, assistant managers, and even a managing Director.

“It’s vital that we bring in these younger individuals to join the experienced team that we have,” Mark says. “They are the leaders. They are the managers of the future, and they bring a different mindset to the running of a business than maybe more experienced colleagues.”

One young person undergoing her apprenticeship at Cornwall Group is Maisie Simpson. Based out of Truro in Cornwall, Maisie has built her knowledge within the workplace while introducing new ideas learned while in the classroom.

“Since starting my HR and marketing apprenticeship within Cornwall Group, I’ve been learning new things from Emma, my manager,” Maisie says.

HR and marketing manager Emma Harris won the Workplace Mentor of the Year award at this year’s Truro and Penwith College’s Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards, and said she was honoured that her work was recognised because it means so much to the apprentices.

“She teaches me things that she knew, and then I would go to college, and they’d enhance my marketing abilities, so I could come back and progress the company through different strategies and different ways of marketing the company,” Maisie continued.

“One idea I brought to the Cornwall Group team was launching on Tik Tok, which – appropriately – focused on our apprenticeship journey. I took social media from not only product-based, but to focus on the people.”

Mark explains that Cornwall Group has about 10%-15% of the team on an apprentice journey, or who have just concluded an apprenticeship journey.

“I think we’re very good ambassadors for apprentices,” Mark says. “We acquired Pilkington Glass in Bristol seven years ago. Perhaps surprising for a corporate business, but they did not have apprentices in that business. One of the first things we did was to bring in apprentices so that they can learn from the very experienced team that we have there. And, of course, we will repeat that success at Forward Glass in Birmingham.”

In December 2023, Cornwall Group acquired Birmingham-based Forward Glass, which employs almost 100 people on a 100,000ft2 site.

“The people at Forward Glass are very experienced, and we are keen to tap into that knowledge,” Mark says. “So, we will be extending our very successful apprenticeship programme to the site in Birmingham, with the first apprentices employed by Christmas.”

Maisie explains that an apprenticeship is a great way to earn a wage while learning.

“For people who aren’t looking at universities, then I definitely think that Cornwall Group’s apprenticeship journey is a positive experience,” she says. “Every colleague within the company is so supportive and willing to help you.”

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