At the beginning of December, commercial kitchen maintenance company McFT held its first Trainee Assessment Day at its Maidenhead offices.
In order to assess the potential candidates and give them a flavour of what life at McFT is like, 11 applicants were short-listed to take part in the assessment day, from which six have been selected.
The assessment day began with an introduction from CEO Chris Craggs who introduced the company, its history and its aims and objectives. The attendees had various backgrounds, including a tyre fitter, a delivery driver and a Tesco employee. However, the firm believes experience is not the most important element, rather that attitude is the key to success.
Craggs explained: “We can teach somebody how to fix a fridge or maintain an oven. But we can’t send them on a training course to learn how to be motivated, think for themselves or have a positive, can-do attitude. Those are the attributes we are looking for. Our engineers are the face of our company. They are the people that our customers see regularly, and our reputation is built on the quality of those individuals.”
The company’s engineers and technicians undergo a comprehensive training programme, as it takes 2 years for a new recruit to become a fully qualified engineer. They are divided into two specialities – catering and refrigeration, and their training is tailored accordingly.
Technical training lead, Paul Brooker then took over and explained how the 2 year programme works. The first year is essentially spent observing and shadowing an experienced engineer, and starting to understand the components of the equipment, and how to service it under supervision. They will also undergo industry courses including a 2 day Basic Electrical course, British Safety Council NVQ Level 2 Risk Assessment, WIAPS (Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme), and first aid. On successful completion of the first year, they move on to developing their all-round skills including commercial awareness and dealing with paperwork as well as manufacturer training and working independently.
During the day, the attendees were given a series of tasks to determine their aptitude, approach to communication and teamwork and thinking skills. This included making a tower out of spaghetti and balancing a marshmallow on top, wiring a plug with some dud tools amongst the collection they chose from, and following a set of instructions that had some deliberately specific instructions at the end to test whether they read through and understood the whole task, rather than jumping in straight away.
Over lunch, two recently qualified engineers, Ellen Flower and Ryan McDonald joined the group to talk about their experience and answer questions from the candidates.
McDonald first heard about McFT through his friend, Alex. He explained: “Alex was often talking about his job. I was getting frustrated in my job as a roofer and wanted something with more prospects so even though I didn’t have much experience, I contacted Alex to ask about working for McFT and they took me on for training. I spent the first 6 months shadowing people and learning the ropes, many of the guys have been here for some time and are really experienced and knowledgeable. I’ve already done my City & Guilds 17th edition wiring course and I’ve been learning how to do servicing, then remedial work and finally handle call-outs. My ambition is to become a team leader. I view this as more of a career than a job and am likely to be here in 5, 10 or even 15 years’ time.
“The best thing about the job is the people you work with – I really like everyone, and I’m going to Zak’s wedding on Saturday – we only met a year ago.”
Flower had more experience in the field: “When I was 16 I did an apprenticeship as an electrician. I’ve worked in the maintenance team at Legoland, been a Hotpoint engineer, and worked for British Gas looking after burglar alarms. McFT was a client of mine when I worked in a private sector hospital. I liked to be organised and tell them what the problem was when they arrived. They often joked ‘you should come and work for us’ so I did! The guys are fantastic… I’ve never worked with such a great bunch, and they’re very supportive. It’s never bothered them that I’m female. It would be great to have more female engineers! The directors are all really approachable and they listen to feedback.
“Everyone has value and everything I have been promised has been done. For instance, I did my 17th edition electrical course within my first 6 months. A group of us from McFT even went out to Dubai to see our operation out there, and to watch the rugby 7’s at the same time. It was great… maybe one day I’ll go back out there to work.
“Small things make a difference, like the fact I have a reliable van with a good radio. I plan to stick around – I’m happy here.”
The six new trainee technicians will begin their structured development plan in January 2017.