Industry-leading windows systems supplier VEKA Group has trained and recruited more than 40 apprentices since 1995. Here, Head of HR Gabriela Hammond explains how valuable these apprenticeships can be – and not just for those getting the training…
The VEKA Group apprenticeship program started 23 years ago in the Engineering department of our Burnley-based plant. In that time, more than 40 undergraduate apprentices have completed on-the-job courses and had the opportunity to go on to long term employment with VEKA.
This year, the annual number of apprenticeships will be available across even more areas of the company, including Customer Services, Technical, Engineering Maintenance and Tool Development. 2018 will also be the first year that VEKA offers senior apprenticeship positions alongside undergraduate courses, which will further enhance the commercial ability and overall training level of the recruits upon completion. VEKA has been able to provide a record number of 13 openings this year for anyone wanting to kick-start their career.
One of the reasons our apprenticeship program is so valuable is that once trainees have completed their course, they are not only academically qualified but they are ‘job ready’ particularly when it comes to the VEKA factory and its many specialist departments. From the Group’s side of things, this means the new recruit is already a part of the ‘VEKA family’ and up to speed with the company’s working methods and values, and for the apprentice, it means an entry way into one of the world’s leading names in fenestration.
There is a third benefit also, and that is for customers of the VEKA Group. When apprentices start their new careers at VEKA, our customers can be assured that in-house training means the talent base we have here is consistently high.
We work extremely hard to make sure all our employees feel supported throughout their careers. There are still some members of the team that have been here since VEKA opened in the UK in 1986; and we truly believe in nurturing the ‘VEKA family’. This mentality begins at apprenticeship level and stays with all our employees throughout their time with us.
From wedding and new baby gifts, to long service lunches (beginning at the five-year milestone), health checks, ‘stop smoking’ advice and even personal loans and a 24-hour advice helpline, VEKA Group is based on traditional family values. In fact, the global VEKA Group still remains entirely family owned.
At the 2017 Burnley Business Awards, VEKA Group was named ‘Employer of the Year’ and we could not be more proud of this achievement;. It is a responsibility that we take very seriously. The VEKA employee engagement surveys - which we invite all staff to take so we can glean feedback from the team and address it accordingly - were cited specifically as part of our success at the Awards. We believe that these surveys have a really positive effect within all areas of the business for both present and future employees – and of course, apprentices.
When it comes to career development, VEKA Group offers vocational opportunities to employees at every level from QCF’s and degrees, to first aid certificates, BIT training and reps’ courses. As a result, the company has seen the benefit of this via improved attendance and reduced employee turnover.
Every year the annual ‘Pride of VEKA’ awards are held to give special recognition to those who have really gone above and beyond in their work, as well as giving staff a chance to really let their hair down. Celebrity hosts such as Chris Kamara and Dave Spikey help to make these occasions into truly memorable nights.
Again, this has a knock-on effect with our customers, who benefit from dealing with a workforce that is not only highly skilled and up to date with industry standards, but also loyal, experienced, reliable and happy in their jobs.
In the summer of 2017, VEKA SPIRIT was ‘born’ as a new way to protect and project the positive attitude we have for the 400-plus team members at VEKA. Since its launch VEKA SPIRIT has become a perfect way to encompass the ‘people first’ vision and values of VEKA from recruitment days and training sessions, to charity fundraising and staff days (and nights) out.
We look forward to our biggest year yet when it comes to the VEKA Group apprenticeship program and hope that the VEKA SPIRIT is ‘infectious’ to everyone involved!