Launching an apprenticeship programme five years ago has improved productivity, workforce engagement and staff retention at Mainetti, which has a multi-national workforce of 200.
Wrexham-based Mainetti reuses, recycles and redistributes garment hangers for major retailers, handling one million hangers a day.
The company, which also has sites and offices in Scotland, Hull and London, pioneered hanger recycling on behalf of its customers in the 1960s and has managed reuse programmes since the mid ‘80s, becoming the leader in the field.
Working with award-winning learning provider Cambrian Training Company, Mainetti initially introduced apprenticeships for supervisors who then became mentors to support new apprentices.
The programme was expanded to the wider workforce two years ago and the company now has 63 apprentices working towards foundation and higher apprenticeships.
Level two and three qualifications include sustainable resource management, business improvement techniques and team leading. In addition, two of the original apprentices have progressed to higher apprenticeships (level four) in management systems and operations management whilst acting as mentors and role models.
As half the workforce is originally from Eastern Europe, communication in the workplace is important and learners have benefited from English language training as part of the essential skills element of the apprenticeships programme.
Underlining their close relationship, Mainetti and Cambrian Training Company now share a member of staff in an innovative arrangement. Joanna Nawrot has trained as an assessor and dedicates two days to apprenticeship delivery and three days to production. She shares her infectious enthusiasm for learning to work colleagues, some of whom she helps by translating technical material into Polish.
Joanna’s dual role helps Mainetti to plan training effectively whilst ensuring that the company achieves its daily targets and business goals.
In addition to training and upskilling the workforce, Mainetti sees apprenticeships as a way of rewarding staff for their loyalty.
“Our performance depends on the people we employ,” said Mikolaj Pietrzyk, Mainetti’s site manager. “We believe that training helps engagement and improves the overall business performance.
“Staff engagement increased by 30 per cent between 2016 and 2017, which is above the industry average, productivity and yield have both increased by seven per cent and staff turnover is less than five per cent.”
“We operate an open-door policy to encourage engagement with staff as much as possible.”
The company’s proactive approach to staff training and development has resulted in a series of nominations for national awards. The company was runner up for last year’s VQ Employer of the Year award and, earlier this year, won the Medium Employer of the Year in Cambrian Training Company’s annual awards.
The company has now been shortlisted for the Medium Employer of the Year award in the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2018.
“We believe that training is crucial to the business and it would not be possible without Cambrian Training Company,” stressed Mikolaj. “They are really flexible and help us to identify members of staff for progression.”
He praised the contribution of Heather Martin, head of Cambrian Training Company’s business unit. “Since I joined the business three years ago, I know how dedicated Heather and her team have been,” he added.
“Cambrian Training is a very good company and I believe they want to ensure that the businesses they work with really benefit from the training they deliver. It’s not a tick box exercise like it is to some other training companies I have encountered.”
Likewise, Heather attributes Mikolaj with introducing a positive approach to staff training and development at Mainetti’s Wrexham site. “The key for us is how easy it is to get people off the production line,” she said. “The company’s commitment really is above that we get from many other employers.
“They are always thinking of things to benefit staff welfare and how to make it a nicer place to work and training has opened the door to other opportunities for the company and the staff.”