Mercedes: Apprenticeships should support succession planning

Andrew Mallery, training operations director at Mercedes-Benz UK, explains his award-winning strategy

Apprenticeships should be used to support succession planning and growth aspirations, according to Andrew Mallery, training operations director at Mercedes-Benz UK.

Speaking to HR magazine, Mallery outlined his firm’s apprenticeship strategy. “Mercedes-Benz UK first started recruiting apprentices in 1995 and now attracts up to 10,000 applicants each year,” he said. “Last year we recruited 253 apprentices into a range of roles.

“We see apprenticeships as a route to bring young talented people into the business to support our succession planning and growth aspirations. Apprenticeships are now offered by the business across both levels two and three; including light vehicle technician, heavy vehicle technician and parts operations apprenticeships.”

Mercedes-Benz made the decision to recruit apprentices as a way to deal with the implications of having an ageing workforce, and has since grown its apprentice intake by 98% in the last four years. Almost two-thirds of Mercedes-Benz apprentices are still with the business a decade later.

Its strategy has been recognised by the National Apprenticeship Awards, and recently helped the company win the BAE Systems Large Employer of the Year Award 2017.

“In 2008 Mercedes-Benz UK built an academy on site in which to train our apprentices,” said Mallery. “Developing our own apprentices has resulted in a range of business benefits for the brand. For example, in 2016 we came first in a national customer satisfaction survey, with 90% of customers happy with their experience at the dealership.”

Another benefit of the strategy has been increased diversity among young employees. “Our programme attracts a high proportion of women compared with the national average,” explained Mallery. “Around 6% of our apprentice intake is female, compared with the UK average of 2.5% for the automotive sector.

“With 3,000 graduate apprentices now in our network, and 1,000 joining in the last five years alone, the rapid growth of apprenticeships at Mercedes-Benz shows no sign of stopping,” he added.

From April the apprenticeship levy will come into force, to encourage employers to take on and train apprentices. The levy requires all employers operating in the UK with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million to invest in apprenticeships.