Ben Turner is Director and Dealer Principal for Ben Burgess & Co, responsible for all elements of the John Deere franchise and leading business development into new areas, including their recent expansion into Rutland and South Lincolnshire with a new Oakham branch which is due for completion this year. Ben is also an ambassador for apprenticeships and skills and shares his thoughts with us here.
“As the fourth generation within Ben Burgess, I feel my responsibility is to guide the business forward, to maintain it for generations to come, and to ensure that we leave it in better fettle than when I joined. By focussing our business on providing an exceptional level of customer service and support, top-quality products, strong business and skills planning, and great value propositions, we are lucky to be weathering the fallout from Covid.”
Ben is rightly proud of the family firm. "We are a family-owned and run business, and having great staff who share our values is fundamental to the success of the business. We feel that staff who have gone through the apprenticeship journey with us have a deep understanding of not just what it is we do, but fundamentally why we do it.
“With Covid-19’s impact being felt across the globe, agriculture and food security has become more prominent than ever. I hope this renewed focus not only allows the UK to keep growing great produce with world-leading levels in quality, but also inspires people to look into the agri-food industry as not just a viable career path, but as a positive lifestyle with a great outlook.”
Ben firmly believes that it is attitude which determines how you get on in business and a defining factor in an apprentice’s success. Ben says that agriculture is one of the industries which understand and capitalise on apprenticeships best. Ben Burgess has been employing apprentices for years and understand that hands-on learning brings a versatile skill set.
Honor Miles is currently an apprentice on the Ben Burgess Agricultural Technical Programme. “I learn a lot better with my hands rather than through textbooks,” she says. “It is a better way of learning for me." Honor believes that apprenticeships are equally valued as university degrees. “I've never seen a split between the two,” she says. “I've got mates at uni and my experience isn't that different to theirs, except they are away studying while I'm working. It works out much better for me being paid to learn and not taking out a student loan. I much prefer the atmosphere here than if I were to go to college.”
Ben markets the company apprenticeships as a desirable career path and says that demonstrating you are a secure employer is an important factor in Covid times. "We can also give career development and provide a roadmap for career progression within the company,” he says. “We go out to schools and colleges and engage directly, attracting potential talent.” Ben also judges an apprenticeship award at a local college which gives him the opportunity to interview potential employees. “Perceptions are changing around apprenticeships and employers are starting to understand how these can really work well in feeding into business progression.”
The company is continuing to take on as many apprenticeships as it can accommodate. “It's more about the quality of the applicants,” says Ben, "but there is consistent growth now in land-based apprenticeships.
“An apprenticeship gives you industry-specific skills, knowledge and behaviours, along with transferable skills, experience with customer service and genuine hands-on learning. Apprenticeship providers in turn equip businesses with high-quality training and support. Youngsters exposed to working life quickly adapt and gain skills for life while providing our business with a steady progression of bespoke career opportunities.”
Whether you are looking to hire an apprentice as an employer, or searching for apprenticeship opportunities, there are a number of free services available.
The National Apprenticeship Services provides free services and information about apprenticeships for both employers and individuals: https://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk.
Or contact the National Apprenticeship Service directly on 0800 015 0600 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm).
Watch Ben's short video here.
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