Why this former apprentice from Sheffield is championing employee ownership

A former apprentice from Sheffield is looking to help businesses make the most out of being employee-owned on the back of the city becoming the first to commit to the Ownership Hub.

Jake Hallatt says it "makes you realise how privileged you are and how good it is to be employee-owned".

Jake Hallatt, a 22-year-old graduate management trainee at Gripple, was asked by the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) to speak at its annual conference.

Mr Hallatt, who started with the Sheffield-based manufacturer aged 16, was just 18 when he was voted by colleagues to be one of the 38 elected representatives on the parent company’s employee council Glide.

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“As part of that role, we are there to embody the culture that we have, to voice the opinions of our members, and hold our leaders to account,” he said.

Mr Hallatt added: “As the business grows you have discussions with new employees about what we have done previously and how it is linked to employee ownership, and this makes you realise how privileged you are and how good it is to be employee-owned.”

Employee-owned Gripple, which designs and manufactures wire joining and tensioning systems for export to more than 80 countries, helped launch a new national initiative in June to grow employee and worker ownership in South Yorkshire.

Sheffield City Region was the first to partner with the Ownership Hub, a partnership between the EOA and Co-operatives UK which aims to create more than one million good jobs by 2030 through businesses giving employees a stake and a say.

The Hub held the first meeting of its strategic steering group in the city on December 1 to map out its plan for 2022.

A number of Sheffield businesses have already pledged their support while a co-ordinator has been employed for the South Yorkshire area to advise businesses.

Gripple helped showcase the benefits of employee ownership (EO) at the launch, with Sheffield-born Mr Hallatt revealing one of the company’s objectives is “flying the EO flag”.

“We want to become a big advocate for employee ownership and make sure that we share our experience with everyone,” he added. “It’s about sharing that passion and getting more businesses within the EO sector, because it’s the right way forward.”

After finishing his apprenticeship in plastic injection moulding, Mr Hallatt was made an assistant team leader, before landing his role as a graduate management trainee.

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