Name: Ian Rhodes
Company: Gemini Lighting Solutions Ltd

Gemini Lighting Solutions are lighting control design and programming specialists, they are also a certified value-added partner of Philips, who sell and commission lighting equipment. Gemini Lighting Solutions has three apprentices and their director, Ian Rhodes, spoke to IPS about the benefits of the all-round training IPS offer in their sector.

“What we do is quite unique work so we liked the idea of recruiting an apprentice, we look for someone who is initially a blank canvas, whom we can train in our own way. We have had three apprentices in the electrical sector, all of whom completed their course and went on to work full time at the company; I would never hire someone without the offer of full-time work at the end of the apprenticeship. We are again looking at recruiting another electrical apprentice, and although we are a small company, in the future we wouldn’t rule out the taking on additional apprentices to build skills in other the departments.

Of the three initial apprentices, we have two who stayed on with the company. The one who left worked with us for a good few years after his apprenticeship completed and has now progressed within the industry, we wish him well for the future. One of the apprentices we employed was my son who qualified last year. We decided to use IPS as our preferred training provider after looking online after I visited a college and wasn’t impressed with the lack of practical training and the profoundly study based delivery, also without obtaining a full certificate at the end of the qualification. With IPS, they had the cross-section of skills and the all-round training in every field we worked in, an exciting workshop and the full diploma at the end of the qualification.

We are a niche business, working in a leading-edge market, and things are always changing, so everyone is still learning, not just the apprentices. As a small company with 14 employees, we rely on trust and manage ourselves and our job load independently. When the apprentices were on their programme, they went out with colleagues and gained the knowledge/skills from an experienced member of staff. By the end of their learning and depending on the level they were studying at, we would then trust them to manage off-site jobs, have control of their schedules, communicate with the contractors and organise their visits, with stopovers. The sites covered a large area ; Scotland, London, and South Wales, which is a lot of responsibility. In regards to progression, their wages have increased and they have more responsibility, I feel they are a credit to the company.

Apprenticeships are worthwhile to the individual, getting you into the workplace and learning new skills. They show how putting in effort creates results and how to maintain it. From an employer perspective, it’s the way forward for long-term skills sustainability for the company and having a diverse workforce within the company and fresh pairs of eyes. Our apprentices have brought a lot to the company, and because of this we will employ more in the future.

I would undoubtedly recommend IPS as a training provider; they do exactly what they say they will do. Apprentices gain the required skills needed and trainers are very supportive and on hand if any problems arise. It was a painless process, we wanted apprentices to strengthen our workforce, it was helpful to be informed by IPS properly of funding and the structure of how the apprenticeships work.”

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