Apprentices can provide benefits to firms of all sizes, as Stoke-on-Trent based MKD Security Services has found out.

Owner Mark Dale has found that sourcing an apprentice through industry training charity JTL has proved a real boon to his security and alarm installation firm.

Aamir Hussain joined the firm 18 months ago at the age of 17, as Mark’s first ever apprentice and, since then, his career has gone from strength to strength.

For Mark, a sole trader, recruiting an apprentice has been a valuable step towards expanding the company.

“I wanted to grow my business, and taking on an apprentice is a very cost-effective way for an employer to do just that, as it means you get a new staff member that won’t cost the earth and who can really learn about how your business works,” he said.

“I was concerned about the commitment required, as four years is a long time in business. However, through JTL I was able to trial a few apprentices, and found that Aamir was definitely the best fit for me.

"I was very happy with the terms of the apprenticeship as agreed with JTL, and am very pleased with Aamir’s progress.”

With his first year over, Aamir is now working actively on site carrying out tasks such as fitting cables, as well as studying at Burslem College for his NVQ.

Kevin Newell, JTL West Midlands regional manager, regularly checks in on both employer and apprentice to ensure they are doing well and reaping the benefits of their partnership.

Aamir said: “The last year has been a great experience. I’ve found a job that I’m enjoying and earning a good salary in a really interesting industry. And, even more importantly with all the unemployment at the moment, I’m learning a real skill that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

Newell said: “It’s great when employers like Mark realise that apprentices are the most economical way of growing your business.

“The cost to an employer in the first year is just £95 per week, and by the second year they’ll already start to be seeing a payback.

"In my mind, it’s a bit of a no-brainer and definitely something for any business to consider. We hope that during National Apprenticeship Week, many more employers also see the benefits a trainee can bring to a company.”

Would Mark take on another apprentice? “Well, you can never predict what the future holds in terms of business but, in principle, absolutely,” he said.

“Aamir’s youth and enthusiasm has made a really positive impact to the business, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he will contribute further as he develops his skills.

“And with the financial support provided by JTL, which takes out many of the cost challenges facing me as an employer, I would definitely look at taking on another apprentice in the future.”