Simon Jordan's Blog - July 2015

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Leading in times of change

The past quarter has been a time of change for Apprenticeships, with the election bringing new goals to work towards and skills gaps opening up in sectors where once there were none.

Always looking to enhance our customers’ experiences, Themis has also gone through some positive changes. New offices within the Princess Way campus have helped staff from all departments to work together more effectively, improving processes and driving us forward. Change can be difficult for organisations. Even small changes can uproot employees and disconnect workloads from targets. Change can also create gulfs between teams, making synchronised working harder and increasing stress amongst your workforce. That’s not to say that change isn’t worth it. Our departmental changes have been hugely beneficial and will continue to improve our programme provision well into the future. The thing about change is, you need to manage it fully and ensure that everybody is on board and ready to take on the challenges – or should I say, embrace the opportunities – a fresh perspective will give. simon jordan's blogI’ve been reading Professor Damian Hughes’ quirky book on leadership “How to think like Sir Alex Ferguson” and there’s an insightful section named “See Change”. In it, he describes how to change your internal perspective, enabling the reader to think more about what they could achieve and less about what they think they can. Try this exercise he suggests. The results are surprising!
  • Stand up and raise your right arm, pointing it forward in front of you
  • Keeping your arm outstretched, move it backwards to behind your body, twisting your wrist as you do so. Move your arm as far as you can, and see how far around your body goes. It helps to pick a specific spot on the wall which indicated how far you have reached
  • With your arms by your sides, close your eyes, and imagine you are repeating the same movement. This time, in your mind, visualise your arm reach the point it reached before, and then easily, effortlessly and automatically, see it going another six, nine, maybe twelve inches further.
  • Open your eyes and repeat it for real and feel that arm stretch further than it did before. 
Now you know what it feels like to be Cristiano Ronaldo. -Excerpt from “How to think like Sir Alex Ferguson” by Professor Damian Hughes.  Of course, as Professor Hughes also mentions towards the end of the chapter, the most important way to manage change is to set yourself and your business vivid goals. Muhammad Ali used to state which rounds he’d claim his victory in poems and rhymes before he’d even stepped through the ropes to face his opponent. He rehearsed his fights over and over in his head before he even taped on his gloves. Change is healthy for a business. It refreshes old processes and energises your workforce. Just be sure to know what you want out of it before you start throwing out the old in favour of the new. “Seeing your success is important because the fight is won or lost far away from witnesses. It is won behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I ever dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali.I’m not going to worry about the things I can’t control, because if I can’t control them there’s no point in worrying about them; and I’m not going to worry about the things I can control, because if I can control them, there’s no point in worrying about them.” – Babe Ruth

Interview in a tuxedo


“You're wearing tuxedos to a job that requires you to clean bathrooms.” 

Plenty of people turn up to new jobs, interviews and training sessions underprepared and unaware of what will be required of them in the world of work. The best example is in my favourite film, Step Brothers, where the chaps in the picture above are from. I don’t think I know anybody who’s been on the receiving end of a tuxedo interview – although please do let me know if you have! – However it’s important to remember in these sorts of situations that novice jobseekers aren’t au fait with organisational protocol. The words “smart casual” could mean anything from “your least grubby jeans” to “buttonhole chrysanthemum” to somebody who has only just completed their GCSEs. Our employers are always keen to take on Apprentices because they see them as the future of their company. Rather than viewing Apprenticeships as a short-term low-level solution, I’m happy to say that a real attitude shift has occurred in industry and most employers I speak to now feel their Apprentices are integral to their workforce. More than that, they see them as valuable assets to their organisations and hope to continue their training long after any Apprenticeship programme is completed. Apprentices are seen as long-term employees now. Employers want to see them grow within the company, adopt their vision and progress well through their career. If you want your Apprentice to stay, and I hope you do, it’s important to advise them on how to gain a full-time job with your company. Tell them from the start what is expected of your high-level employees. Explain that working for your company requires continued loyalty, hard-work and training. Talk to them about the options that will open up for them if they stay. More importantly, outline how you and your organisation will support them in furthering their career and encourage them to grow within the company. It’s easy to forget that our smart, work-savvy Apprentices are just starting out on their careers. Continuing to upskill them and informing them of any changes in responsibilities in their role after they complete their programme will increase their confidence and the likelihood of them applying for a full-time role. If you value your Apprentice, give them the skills to perform at a higher level and the encouragement they need to become your full-time employees. That way, you’ll never have to see them turn up at your door in a hired tuxedo.

Burnley the Boom Town

Estates Gazette has featured the ‘top five to thrive’ towns in the North West and Brilliant Burnley has been mentioned as one of the UK’s “boom towns”. It’s really encouraging to see enterprise in Burnley continue to rise, especially in national surveys of employability, growth, access to knowledge and skills. Simon Bedford, partner at Deloitte said of our hard-working town: “Burnley is already doing very well. It is attracting a lot of aerospace jobs – the former Michelin site has been turned into the 84-acre Burnley Aerospace Suppliers Park.” According to an article in Burnley.co.uk, Burnley is ranked in the UK’s top 10 for growth in private-sector jobs, and Experian quotes our town as having the best growth prospects in Lancashire. The new Todmorden Curve rail link to Manchester will also help us become central to the Government’s vision of a Northern Powerhouse. Council leader Mark Townsend says: “We’ve got universities we didn’t have before, we’re sorting transport to bring the market closer to Burnley, and improving links to Manchester is a no-brainer, which has to boost the local economy. We are growing our skills base and stopping it draining away to the big cities.” Vision Park will also help to continue this “boom town” status for Burnley, with the 45,000 sq ft first phase due for completion in summer 2016, with an innovation centre to follow. Located next to the College campus on Princess Way, this knew “Knowledge Quarter” will guide Burnley’s economy towards stronger success. We can’t wait. Themis have already bucked the trend in the Burnley area for upskilling workforces and taking on Apprentices. Before Apprenticeships were really taken into the heart of government policy, there was a real gap in the number of companies in Burnley who were interested in training staff members under an Apprenticeship programme. Now, Apprenticeships have become a mainstay for all the companies we’ve worked with and I’m thrilled to hear of so many others who are looking at Apprenticeships as a way to grow their business and take on dedicated, skilful members of staff. Government statistic show that we as a country are on target for a higher skilled workforce, with 20,000 new higher Apprenticeship starts logged over the past 24 months. Interestingly, on a national scale this trend is being led by employers, who now more than ever are looking into Apprenticeships as a viable option. Skills Minister Nick Bowles said in a recent Government blog piece, “The employer-led demand for higher apprenticeships is yet another reminder of the great respect our apprentices command.” I’d have to agree. Themis Advanced Apprenticeships offer employers security; these Apprentices are ready for work, ready to be trained and ready to be integrated into businesses from the word go.

Summer in a nutshell

The Burnley Business Awards were yet another stunning example of all the finest things Burnley has to offer on Thursday 11 June and Themis were very honoured to be sponsoring the Apprenticeship Scheme of the Year award. Congratulations are due to Speakmans, who were the very well-deserving winners of this prestigious accolade! Our Construction and Future Technologies Centre has been officially open for just two months and already students and Apprentices have set to work building a full-sized bungalow within its walls. Take a look at the video below to see some of the fantastic work that’s been happening in this exciting new facility. Tuesday 23 June was National Women in Engineering Day, so we spoke to Themis Advanced Apprentice Holly Ireland about her role at global aeronautical engineering and manufacturing company Aircelle. Often talked about in the press as a “man’s world”, campaigns have been launched by the Royal Academy of Engineering to promote the industry and all it has to offer to women. It’s clear there are real opportunities for women in this sector and thankfully interest in STEM subjects in increasing in both male and female students. I wanted to know what Holly felt about her job. She replied to me with these answers, which I found incredibly positive: “I think that all women would benefit from more of an understanding of what ‘Engineering’ really is. I feel that if you aren’t encouraged to study it, or don’t know people who are in that career path, there’s no basis, or knowledge about what engineering is at all. A lot of my friends just think the term ‘engineering’ is to do with cars. I think that’s what most women think engineering is too, whereas a matter of fact, it is a whole range of different, interesting things.”  “Engineering is a forever expanding career choice. As the world is developing so is engineering. The world has expanded and grown tremendously since it was just classed as a ‘man’s job’ but really it is very unisex. Girls just need more exposure to it. I would also say to any girl wanting to do engineering is do it! It’s one of the best choices I’ve ever made.” On Sunday 28 June, we cheered on some of our Themis team-mates as they set off to raise money on their epic Pennine 10k runs. Here’s the whole Burnley College team (minus Themis Marketing Executive Laura Norfolk who was already at the starting line!)   Pennine 10k That's it for now - please keep an eye out for updates and news on Twitter. You can find me at @SimonThemis, where I talk about Apprenticeships, Burnley, enterprise and occasionally, my amazing sons.
Source Url: http://www.themis.ac.uk/simon-jordans-blog-july-2015/
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