Upturn Enterprise, our Delivery Partners for Oldham and Rochdale, are a social enterprise that supports individuals and organisations/businesses from across all sectors. Upturn have been effectively using links with employers to support young people into apprenticeships.
One employer they have a longstanding relationship with is Diodes, a global manufacturer and supplier of products within the semiconductor markets. They are headquartered in Plano, Texas – with their Manchester offices in Chadderton, Oldham.
GM’s Hidden Talent spoke to Janet Whitehead, our Talent Coach at Upturn, and David Ogden, a production manager of Diodes to understand how this relationship works.
In partnership with Upturn, Diodes have taken on nine apprentices in all, including Jake, a young person on GM’s Hidden Talent.
The technical teaching for these apprenticeships is provided by Oldham Training Centre, while the apprentices are actually employed by Upturn – who invoice Diodes for salary costs. This way, Upturn, as the employment support provider, provide Diodes with the assurance that young people are work-ready and a good fit for roles. Upturn also provide administration support around the apprenticeships.
Upturn’s reputation in helping young people, and their local partnerships with other youth support offers, means they can source young people that employers might not otherwise reach.
"...young people themselves are actually employed directly by Upturn – who invoice Diodes for salary costs. This way, Upturn, as the employment support provider, provide Diodes with the assurance that young people are work-ready and a good fit for roles."
Although the young people are provided with a dedicated mentor through Diodes, the transparency in the relationship between Upturn and Diodes means that support needs that crop up can be communicated directly to Upturn. Importantly, the Diodes mentor is not the apprentice’s line manager. This detached and impartial counsel offers young people the chance to be more open about challenges they are facing.
Diodes’ recruitment process uses skills assessment exercises, including a task asking prospective candidates to build a bridge with provided materials. In this exercise, information is deliberately withheld.
“We want to see if candidates display the curiosity and logic to ask question such as ‘What does the bridge have to span?’ and 'What does it need to support?’', said David Ogden.
He added that a patient and ‘long-term gains’ mindset should be adopted by employers taking on apprentices.
“We don’t expect to see the fruition of the training for five years,” he said.
“We want apprentices to build competencies and demonstrate they are building a knowledge base. It is important to convey this to the apprentice: tell them that they are forming a knowledge foundation for their future career.”
New apprentices at Diodes are provided with a detailed starter pack containing information about break times, and expected workplace behaviours – a vital consideration because some expectations can be unfamiliar for young people with limited work experience.
Janet Whitehead said: “By designing the recruitment, induction and continued support process around the young person, and in doing so smoothing the relationship between training provider, employer and employment support provider, we create a positive environment for the apprentices to flourish.”