Q&A: TrustFord’s Sharon Ashcroft


TrustFord’s Human Resource Director Sharon Ashcroft discusses the company’s goals for the coming year and how apprentices will be helped to catch up after the pandemic

What are the key education and training requirements for people entering the company?

New starters all need to demonstrate our values and that they can be part of a family. Some will also need to have certain qualifications, an example being a technician who has to train for three years.

How do you source talent for your organisation?

We use traditional agencies, social media, word of mouth and internal recommendations.

Which method for sourcing talent works best and why?

Recruiting on behaviours, not skills and experience, widens up a whole new pool of people who would not have been previously considered and we also sift blind; i.e. all personal identifiable data is removed from applications before they are sent to the recruiting manager which means no one is deselected because of their gender et cetera.

How many apprenticeships do you carry out?

Usually, we take about 80 each year, both technical and in finance, but due to the pandemic we will only take approximately 19 apprentices within the finance function this year.

What impact did COVID-19 have on the apprenticeships?

Most of them are way behind with their training now as they have been mainly out of the business since March as we have had to social distance and protect all of our colleagues.

What are you doing to catch-up with apprentice training that’s been missed due to the pandemic?

It’s really difficult and we will extend all of the contracts and revisit all of the training once we are in a safe position to do so.

What leadership development programmes do you run so staff can go further in their careers and the business?

We have just launched our Future Leaders programme which will give ambitious colleagues the skills and experience they need to move into management positions within the group.

Targeted at current Grade 6 (Team Leaders) and Grade 7 (Sales Executives and Technicians) colleagues, the Institute of Leadership and Management programme will be conducted through e-learning, virtual classrooms and on-the-job assessments over a 12-14 month period, starting in April 2021. Colleagues will receive a Level 3 Management Apprenticeship on completion of the programme.

What is your key focus for the next six months and why?

Diversity and inclusion to ensure that our workplace reflects society – which sadly isn’t the case [at the moment] – because as data and research demonstrates, there are positive associations between the quality and financial performance of diverse teams within an organisation.

How are you going to go about meeting your diversity and inclusion focus?

It’s a marathon not a sprint. I have a melting pot of ideas which I now need to put into a strategic plan. I now have a dedicated resource to purely focus on this for the next six months.