A boardroom apprenticeship scheme which launched in Guernsey last month has attracted interest from more than 30 aspiring board members and already matched its first apprentice to a company.

Board Apprentice, which is run by a group of people who sit on various boards and have extensive experience around the boardroom tables of listed and unlisted companies, was founded to help educate and train future board members and widen and diversify the pool of board ready individuals.

‘We have been approached by 35 individuals who are keen to be part of the Guernsey initiative and are now processing the applications which we have received so far. We’ve also had nine organisations who have said that they would be willing to help nurture directors of the future,’ said Paula Williams, programmes manager for the GTA University Centre which has been appointed as executive ambassador and administrator of the scheme in Guernsey.

‘It does take time to ensure we find the right apprentices and match them to the right companies but it’s really positive for the initiative that there is already a Guernsey-based apprentice shadowing a board and learning what is involved.’

Charlotte Valeur, who founded Board Apprentice, said it was very encouraging to see such high levels of interest in Guernsey.

‘It’s fantastic that the launch in Guernsey has been so well received. It is a significant commitment from both the individual and the organisation but there are so many benefits. Not only will the individuals develop their own skills but they widen the pool of people who are board-ready and keen to make a valuable contribution and that in turn will ensure they can contribute to an organisation’s success from the minute they become a board member,’ she said.

The Guernsey chapter of Board Apprentice is now reviewing the remaining applications through its selection committee, which is made up of representatives from different industries including the charitable sector.

‘We need to ensure that the person and the organisation are compatible so not everyone who we think is suitable will be immediately matched. Our aim is to ensure we have a pool of candidates who have the right personalities, skills and experience to be an asset to the board they shadow so that as organisations come forward, we can match them,’ said Mrs Williams.

‘We have an excellent selection committee who will go through the applications and decide on those who will become apprentices. But for those who aren’t quite ready, it’s not just a straight-forward “no”, we ensure that they get the advice they need to develop weaker areas and we will continue supporting them until they are ready to become an apprentice.’

Mrs Williams said that the recent Skills Survey in Guernsey highlighted why it was important to have schemes like Board Apprentice. Five of the top six skills gaps in Guernsey were management skills – planning and organising (55%), problem solving (54%), management (51%) and leadership (43%) yet managers, directors and senior officials accounted for just 16% of all employees who have received training.

‘In order for local organisations to be successful and therefore ensure Guernsey remains competitive, we need to develop future leaders so that that have the skills and qualifications they need to lead and grow those organisations, regardless of whether they are in the public or private sector. Board Apprentice is an integral part in bridging the gap between workers becoming leaders.’

Board apprentices will be appointed for a year and will commit to the duties of board members including reading board packs and attending meetings; however they will not contribute in any way to the decision-making process. They are also expected to attend Annual General Meetings (if applicable) and other board-related activities which take place outside of scheduled board meetings. The apprentice may be assigned to a board in the UK, Jersey or Guernsey and will cover all their own expenses.

‘It is a significant investment of time for both the apprentices and the willing companies and so we ideally don’t want to have to charge. However, the administration is very labour intensive and so we are now looking for businesses to sponsor the Board Apprentice initiative as part of their corporate social responsibility programme as they will ultimately be investing in the future success of the island,’ said Mrs Williams.

Anyone wanting to know more about becoming an apprentice, taking on an apprentice or sponsoring the initiative can contact Paula Williams, GTA University Centre programmes manager, by emailing paula.williams@gta.gg.