Keith Crockford, an apprentice employer, runs Rock and Rapid Adventures, an outdoor activities business in North Devon. He set the business up seven years ago and has been employing apprentices for five years. We chatted to Keith about his business and how Apprenticeships fit into it.
How many people does Rock and Rapid Adventures employ?
We’re just about to start growing again because obviously we’re quite seasonal. We’ll be up to about ten by the summer and I have four apprentices at the moment. Over the years we’ve had nine apprentices.
How do you recruit apprentices?
We either recruit them ourselves through social media or through our own network of people, or our training provider sends people to us. Generally we’ll have a role that we’re looking to fill and then we’ll set out to find that person.
What made you choose Apprenticeships for your business?
I used to work at an FE college lecturing in outdoor adventure management. One of the problems was that young people went into the industry with no actual industry work experience. I’ve found that Apprenticeships are far better. The apprentices come in and often already have an interest in outdoor activities. They’re already climbers or kayakers or whatever. Then we can mould them into actually being an instructor. Apprenticeships put people into the right frame of mind. Yes they’ve got a job, but they’re also coming in as learners.
What Apprenticeships do you offer, and at what level?
We’ve got Activity Leaders apprentices at Level 2, and the Level 3 one is Outdoor Programmes Apprenticeship. We’ve had people do both so it does give that progression. We’ve also had Business Admin apprentices at Rock and Rapid.
How does the training work?
Our apprentices are trained on site. The training providers come to us so the apprentices are here for 40 hours a week. You can arrange it around your timetable so if you’ve got a busy day one week you can move them to come in another time. It works well and it doesn’t disrupt the business itself.
Are any of the people working for you now former apprentices?
Yes, I’ve got one at the minute who was an original apprentice and I’ve another one who’s just about to finish and will stay on. I have had two go off to higher education after doing their Apprenticeships, to do degrees in the subject. I’m quite happy with that, if they’re staying within the industry. Another of our apprentices, she’s gone off to do the same job but working in Europe because she wanted to travel. We give them the base framework to use whichever way it suits them.
Would you encourage other similar businesses to get apprentices?
Yeah I would. I would say that you would have to select the right people. We don’t accept anyone unless they’re already passionate about an outdoor activity. If you’ve already got an experienced climber then it’s very easy to turn that person into a good instructor.
Has anything about Apprenticeships surprised you?
The surprise for me is the quality of some of the individuals and the decision they’ve made to do Apprenticeships. You might expect people of that quality to go straight to university but actually, they see an Apprenticeship as a chance to really learn something. There are some really good people out there.
IN THE PHOTO: Front row L to R apprentiecs Andrew Simpson, Rachel Murphy, Gareth Chalker and Selena Thysen. Back row, third left Keith Crockwood.