Managing director of ITPS, Garry Sheriff, and regional manager of Northern Skills Group, Amanda Vanek, share their apprenticeship story with the North East Growth Hub.
Gateshead-based ITPS have been offering ICT apprenticeships since 2002 and have since helped 36 young people kick-start their careers in industry. The ICT and data centre service recently partnered with the Northern Skills Group, to secure a new generation of apprentices.
The Group provides apprenticeships, employer-led training and retraining by bringing together the expertise and experience of Middlesbrough College and the former North East Chamber of Commerce training arm, NECC Training.
Some of our directors started off as apprentices
“We set up our own in-house apprenticeship scheme in 2002, just two years after we set up the business, and since then have helped around 36 young people to kick-start their careers in ICT.
“Some of our directors started off as apprentices themselves so we know first-hand the value they add to the business.
“The apprenticeship approach to gaining skills and experience is beneficial to those that are better suited to practical rather than purely academic learning. The application of practical skills builds confidence that is useful in the workplace and in general life.”
Helping young people make a valuable choice
“We believe all young people should have some kind of work experience, even if it’s not a full apprenticeship, so they can make an informed career choice.
“Not everyone instinctively knows what career path they want to follow, and experience is the only way to find out what they are good at. We spend the biggest part of our lives at work, and making the wrong choice can be soul-destroying, particularly for a young person with limited life experience.”
It's important to find the right apprenticeship provider
“We looked around at providers and because we have successfully worked with NECC Training – now Northern Skills Group – in the past for technical positions, and they offered suitable schemes for the particular vacancies we had, we opted to go with them again.”
There was loads of help on offer
“Northern Skills Group offers a training recruitment service. The recruitment and selection process provides a free of charge service to employers looking to recruit an apprentice and aims to attract and select learners who are best suited to the work and the training of individual businesses. Ongoing support is also in place for the duration of any training.”
“Northern Skills Group is very helpful and thorough in providing details of the scheme, sourcing suitable candidates for us to shortlist for interview, and supporting our apprentices all the way through the programme.”
Apprenticeships allow for good working practises
“Apprentices get the chance to see what working life is like, and where their talents lie, so they can make an informed career choice. Many of our apprentices join our 50-strong support team as first response engineers. Although they can eventually move into other areas if they want to, they all start off working alongside experienced engineers so they pick up good working practices from the start.”
They often climb the ranks
“Apprenticeships offer a step onto the career ladder, great life experiences and the ability to earn whilst you learn. As someone starting out in their chosen career, what more could you ask for.
“This combination, as I have found personally, was invaluable for me and my career development. Employers who nurture and support their apprentices gain commitment and dedication and in many cases, their apprentices climb the ranks into more senior positions within the organisation which is great for succession planning.”
It can benefit the employer too
“Apprentices get to learn about the business from the ground up, while they study for recognised qualifications that benefit them and us, and growing our own talent by this method and by continuous staff training helps us to strengthen the skills pipeline and to meet demand for our services.”
Young people have a lot to offer
“Young people have a lot to offer, and even at the very start of their career they can bring in energy, ideas and new ways of thinking. We get a lot of very positive customer feedback about our apprentices, which is nice to hear. Over the years we have found some star staff via our apprenticeship programme.
“While it’s important to give young people opportunities, apprenticeships are not simply about doing the right thing as an employer. Our apprentices add real commercial value while gaining the knowledge and experience that will benefit their careers. The result is a scheme that benefits them while supporting our business and its growth.”
Work with an approved provider
“Work with an approved provider with the experience to guide you through the process so you and your apprentices get the best out of a programme designed to give young people the right combination of academic learning and practical skills.
“Having an ongoing programme in place means we can train our apprentices in the way we like to conduct business, teach them how to establish good client relationships, and show them how our business operates from the ground up.
“It’s a great way to be able to offer young people a helping hand and it’s something organisations of all sizes can get involved with. Over the last 14 years we have found some star staff via our apprenticeship programme.”
“Embrace apprenticeships! Every business looking to grow and prosper should have new people coming through the ranks. It’s good for staff retention and makes people feel valued.
“This in turn is good for business. Do your research and find a provider who offers quality training and comes highly recommended.”
Interested in taking on apprentices for your own business? There are providers and events across the North East that can help you to get started.