Mercedes-Benz made the decision to recruit apprentices as a way to combat their ageing workforce and have since grown their apprentice intake by 98% in the last four years and almost two-thirds of Mercedes-Benz apprentices are still with the business a decade later.

Mercedes-Benz has been offering apprenticeships for over twenty years and now attracts up to 10,000 applicants each year. Through its Apprentice Academy, the company provides a learning experience for apprentices, which ensures brand loyalty, and a highly skilled workforce, safeguarding the future of their business. The success of the organisations apprenticeship programme is demonstrated in its recent crowning as BAE Systems Large Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2016.

Here Training Operations Director, Andrew Mallery discusses the businesses long-standing commitment to apprenticeships.

Early adoption

As a business we are committed to boosting our apprenticeship offering. We first began offering apprenticeships in 1995 and last year we recruited 253 apprentices into a range of roles within the business. Over the last four years we’ve grown our apprentice intake by 98%.

We see apprenticeships as a route to tap into the talents of young people in order to support succession planning and growth aspirations. We offer apprenticeships across the business across both levels 2 and 3; including light vehicle technician, heavy vehicle technician and parts and operations apprenticeships.

We’re outperforming other companies in the industry when it comes to attracting diverse talent. We’ve been working to increase the number of female apprentices entering the business and have certainly felt the benefits. Our apprentice programme attracts a high proportion of females compared to the national average. Women make up 6% of our apprentice intake, in comparison to the UK average of 2.5% for the automotive sector.

Brand loyalty

In 2008 we decided to bring all apprenticeship training in-house, through offering in-house training for our apprentices we are able to ensure it is tailored to our network and encapsulates our mantra; ‘the best or nothing’.

In 2012 the company invested in a purpose built Academy, on site, to train our apprentices. Alongside qualifications and on-the-job experience, while working at the Academy, the apprentices can make use of a range of facilities, including a gym and games room as well as dedicated cinema nights and a student liaison officer available for 24 hour support. All the activities are aimed at ensuring the young recruits develop into confident, capable and well-rounded employees.

The Academy is also located alongside our company training centre which is a testament to our philosophy of lifelong learning. It enables the apprentices to mix with experienced employees who continue to train and grow as they progress through the business.

Developing our own apprentices has resulted in a range of business benefits for the Mercedes-Benz brand. For example in 2016 we came first in a national customer satisfaction survey, with 90% of customers happy with their experience at our dealership. Offering our own training means we can ensure it’s of the quality befitting a premium brand. Moreover our in-house approach means the apprentices are immersed in the Mercedes-Benz ethos from the start which ensures we can continue to deliver an excellent customer service experience.

In addition this method of training ensures brand loyalty. Almost two-thirds of our apprentices are still with the business a decade later and 91% of apprentices have been promoted or have gone on to gain additional qualifications, supported by the business.

Award-winning

The lure of working for Mercedes-Benz means we attract between 6,000 and 10,000 apprenticeship applications each year. With only 250 places available, the competition is fierce as this translates to one place for every 35 applicants. The apprentice graduation rate is high with 91% rate of apprentices retained by the business.

Our apprentice programme has received a number of accolades, including the Ofsted accreditation for best practice recognising rapid return on investment within the first six months. Most recently we were named Large Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2016 and one of the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers. The apprentices themselves are also making waves in the industry: last year one of the group was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achiever of the Year’ by the Institute of Motor Industry. Additionally we have an internal awards scheme for our apprentices. Each year, the top four apprentices are recognised and rewarded with a week working at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team.

With 3,000 graduate apprentices now in our network, and a thousand joining in the last five years alone, the rapid growth of apprenticeships shows no sign of stopping.

Those looking to take on apprentices can find out more by searching ‘apprentic