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How Can Apprenticeships Help Your Warehousing or Manufacturing Business Cope With COVID-19 Challenges?

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To the unknowing observer, for warehouses and manufacturing facilities, business is up! After all, COVID-19 has caused a sharp rise in demand for many products and an increased reliance on distribution to get all those products that have been ordered online to the final consumer.

However, an increase in business alone is not enough to save a business in this industry, as many are facing unique challenges such as:

  • Suppliers of key products going out of business and disrupting the supply chain.
  • An increased level of demand that systems and storage are not able to cope with.
  • Increased competition from other businesses trying to obtain the same limited resources.
  • End-point retailers going out of business.
  • Increased challenges to keep staff safe, meaning less staff on the floor.
  • Staff going off sick, quarantining or being unable to travel due to local lockdown restrictions, decreased public transport and childcare issues.

It all comes together to make a very challenging time indeed for employers in this industry.

When it comes to solving a staffing crisis, many employers will simply see the only solution is to bring in more staff, but this can lead to a reliance on agencies or higher staffing bills with much less productivity.

But have you considered, that by investing in the training of your current staff, you may actually make your workforce significantly more resilient to changes?

It seems counter-intuitive to put money into staff training during an uncertain time, however you may be pleasantly surprised by the benefits it could bring. Let’s take a look at a few:

Staff who reap the benefits of training are more loyal

Sometimes it takes a lot of basic training to get a staff member ready for work in a warehouse or manufacturing environment. They may need training in different areas such as loading, goods-in and picking, they may need specific training on certain machines, and of course, they all need safety training specific to your premises.

That’s a big time investment just to have someone leave for another opportunity.

Luckily, if you invest in an apprenticeship, your staff member is more likely to stick around, as it’s an opportunity for professional development that will be difficult to find elsewhere.

It’s especially beneficial to both employer and employee if your staff member completes an apprenticeship course and then wants to go on to study at a higher level. It means as an employer you’ll have a much more skilled and qualified workforce.

Staff who are upskilled are more productive and better at problem solving

During an apprenticeship, your employee will learn a huge range of key skills. These can range from critical thinking and problem solving, to practical skills in lean manufacturing processes.

These skills can mean that your employees are less likely to need much support from trainers and supervisors, and are more able to solve problems they are faced with using their own initiative, leading to less delays.

Even if you only offer apprenticeships to a few employees, they’ll gain skills and mindsets that they can pass on to the rest of the team – especially if they complete a team leadership apprenticeship!

Employees who take part in training get more enjoyment out of their job, and are more motivated

A happy employee is a productive employee! There’s the old theory about the carrot and stick – you can drive employees by cracking the whip, but risk the fact they may get fed up and leave, or you can incentivise employees by offering rewards such as the chance at professional development.

If you can only offer a few apprenticeships each year, you can even offer them to the most productive employees who consistently meet and beat their KPIs. This can give employees a reason to push themselves to achieve their goals.

Employees with multiple skills are able to fill in for staff who are absent

If you are faced with a situation where you’re operating on a reduced workforce, it’s important that you have employees with skills that mean they can bridge the gaps.

It’s a great idea to start prepping team members who have potential for team leadership positions. There may not be a job role available yet, but by offering them an apprenticeship and an opportunity to shine when another team leader is absent, employees will have a buy-in to the business.

You could also consider training low-skill employees who do the basic functions of your warehouse or manufacturing facility. Put them through a warehouse or manufacturing apprenticeship and they’ll learn the theory behind operating equipment, and the safety skills needed for supervisory positions.

It means your managers will have more resources to shuffle staff around to where they are needed.

So what do you think? Interested to learn how your business could fund apprenticeship training? Get in touch using the form below!

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