Biochemica fishes out new skills for apprentices

Warehouse Assistant Apprentice, Tom Hamilton with the Scaling Up Apprentices fish tank

Warehouse Assistant Apprentice, Tom Hamilton reels in new skills through Biochemica’s ‘Scaling Up Apprentices’ project

Water management company, Biochemica UK Ltd has unveiled a novel approach to teaching its apprentices new skills as it celebrates National Apprenticeship Week.

National Apprenticeship Week, which launched yesterday (14 March 2016) promotes the benefits and positive impacts apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and the economy.

In support of the awareness week, Teesside headquartered Biochemica has revealed how it teaches its apprentices responsibility and leadership skills through its unique training and development project – ‘Scaling Up Apprentices’.

The project was inspired by Biochemica’s Managing Director, Dave Ruddy who started his career as an apprentice himself. He said: “I’ve kept various aquatic environments for years and the idea came to me when I started looking into installing a new fish tank in my own office.

“The concept of the project is to give our Warehouse Assistant Apprentices ownership of tasks, something that is critical in their day-to-day role as part of our warehouse and logistics team.

“Before the apprentice is made fully accountable for their dedicated tank, we initially train them on the specific requirements needed to keep it clean, safe and healthy. Upon completion of their 12 month apprenticeship, they then hand the project over to the next apprentice and teach them the skills they need.”

Responsible for everything from cleaning the tank, feeding its scaly residents and maintaining product stock levels, apprentices learn how to follow precise methodology and meet timeframes for tasks. Apprentices also perform regular water testing procedures, record results and balance the water to optimum conditions, helping them to work to a high level of accuracy.

Dave added: “We start the project by taking the apprentice to choose their own fish to add to the tank. As only certain species can live in the tropical environment and alongside its existing inhabitants, this starts the learning process by encouraging the apprentice to ask questions. It becomes a personal journey as the tank and the apprentice flourish together.”

Warehouse Assistant Apprentice, Tom Hamilton is Biochemica’s first apprentice to be assigned to the Scaling Up Apprentices project. The 18 year old, who lives in Norton, said: “I didn’t have any knowledge on tropical fish before I started the project so I was quite nervous about being put in charge of the tank and actually keeping my fish alive!

“Now I find it rewarding to see the tank looking pristine and my fish happily swimming about as a result of my efforts. It’s like starting anything new, you get out of it what you put in, just like my apprenticeship.”

Tom is due to finish to his Warehouse and Storage (Skills for Logistics) apprenticeship in July and is progressing ahead of the programme with 70 percent of his assessments already completed. He commented: “By taking part in the Scaling Up Apprentices project, I’ve learnt a lot of new skills and increased my knowledge of chemical applications and water treatment. It’s taught me how to work independently and responsibly and really boosted my confidence.

“I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned with the next apprentice and hope to gain a full time position with Biochemica.”

As a committed apprenticeship champion, Biochemica invests heavily in providing opportunities with solid career prospects to local young people. The company’s Billingham base currently employs six apprentices to support its busy head office and warehouse, which supports its national operation.

Dave said: “We increased our dedicated warehouse team with two new apprentices this month alone and we’re underway with the recruitment of a Laboratory Technician Apprentice – our first apprenticeship of this kind and the very same programme I completed.

“I would recommend taking on apprentices to other growing companies like ours to bring value to their business, increase productivity and help boost their local economy.”

Biochemica provides water treatment services and chemical solutions to a nationwide client base across the public and private sector. Specialising in the areas of chemical supply, wastewater treatment, Legionella control, cooling water treatment and boiler water treatment, Biochemica also offers environmentally products and services under its Ecochemica arm.

To get in touch with Biochemica UK Ltd, visit our Contact Us page. You can also follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

To find out more about National Apprenticeship Week, click here.