Let me say it more clearly: Swarm is like Guinness – good for you!


Swarm - Credit: Archant

I've been living with Swarm for almost a year now. It's grown from a small idea into a fully-fledged social business.

Too much paperwork, too much hassle and too little focus on me; let's be honest about this, I hire people because they make life easier and deliver a return on investment. I guess it's the same for you. Meet Swarm at The B2B Exhibition on 17 October 2013 as they exhibit in the Enterprise & Innovation Zone.

To put it bluntly, there's no easier way for a small business owner to take on an apprentice and know it's going to work. But Swarm is new, and until the first group gets underway and the evidence of success clearly emerges, I'm having to tell the same story again and again. I know it will get easier, because I know it's going to work.

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So when a friend proudly told me he was taking a 'business admin' apprentice I almost hit him. He knew about Swarm; he'd heard me speak about Swarm; he knew I had a sponsor for his area, but still he'd not got the message. It's like comparing a glass of tap water with a pint of Guinness. Both can quench a sudden thirst, but only one leaves you feeling better than you were before.

Let me explain. A business administration apprenticeship qualification is like a tick list. Can he answer the phone? Does she know how to work the copier? Can he make the tea? It helps you teach your apprentice what to do. It does nothing to help them understand why!

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And so a common complaint from those who take on an admin apprentice is that they do what they're told, but tend not to think for themselves. 'What shall I do next,' is the last thing you want to hear every hour when you are busy. I prefer an apprenticeship that encourages a youngster to say, 'I think I should do this today, or have you any more urgent tasks I can help with?'

To show my friend exactly where I think he's in danger of going wrong, I prepared a table that compares the two courses side by side. I know he'll find it useful. I think you might do too. You can view it on the Swarm blog here.

What's more in Breckland our costs are covered by sponsors Orbit East and in North Norfolk byVictory Housing. By opting for the 'tap water' apprenticeship my friend is turning down a fully funded support package that costs £2,000. Unless that is, he changes his mind!

For more information on the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and their business to business exhibition, visit www.edp24.co.uk/business/norfolk-chamber-of-commerce or www.norfolkchamber.co.uk.

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