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08 March 2019

Apprentices Leading the way at SP Services!

Apprentices Leading the way at SP Services!

 

     This National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2019) 4th – 8th March 2019, SP Services is celebrating the contribution our own Apprentices have made to our business over the last 30 years and we are very proud to support the various schemes available, with several members of our team have had their start in our business as an apprentice.

National Apprentice Week seeks to bring the entire UK Apprenticeship community together to celebrate the contributions they’ve made to their companies and the country’s economy as a whole.

The theme for this year’s NAW 2019 is ‘Blaze a Trail’, which aims to inspire and excite key groups and influencers about apprenticeships. It allows companies to speak loudly about the benefits that are offered and encourage potential apprentices to follow their passions and blaze their own career trail. This will be done through individuals being inspired by the stories of those who have taken up apprenticeships.

Here at SP Services we are supporting National Apprenticeship Week 2019 (NAW 2019) by showcasing all of the incredible opportunities doing an apprenticeship can bring - both for individuals firing up their careers, and for employers blazing a trail in their business and reaping the benefits of employing an apprentice.

Our operations director, Jane Wilson speaks very highly of our success story with the apprenticeship scheme.

‘We have been involved in the apprenticeship programme since March 2014, when I was invited to attend a Life Skills Seminar by Barclays Bank at the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce. The seminar enabled local businesses to find out more about the apprenticeship programme and to unite together to tackle youth unemployment.

Initially, I was skeptical about how this could work for our business, but I approached it with an open mind and the case studies were eye-opening for me. One local employer and his apprentice spoke candidly about the challenges they faced, but they were both so positive about the process I was hooked. On discussing the candidate selection process his advice was to look for a candidate with a ‘spark’. He said it didn’t matter which department or sector they were going to apply for, that wasn’t important, it was their enthusiasm that really mattered.

I clearly recall this as the ‘light bulb’ moment during the seminar. It made me realise that as a company we could make a difference to the chances of young people in our area.

I came back to the office and discussed the concept with our owner Steve Bray, and the first stage of Growing our Business with Apprentices was born.

The next stage was working with a local training provider to discuss our needs as a company and which departments we could start to implement a full apprenticeship training programme. We started with our Customer Services department and as recommended I looked for candidates with a buzz and a sparkle and that advice has stood us in good stead. Being open-minded about who comes along for the interview is important and learning to think outside the box.

Thinking about other departments in your business is key to the success of the scheme and one of my personal achievements was seeing a candidate who came for a role in Customer Services, a department where the vacancy had already been filled. I listened intently about his hobbies and interests and realised that we could extend our candidate search to an area of the business we hadn’t previously considered – IT and Marketing.

After successfully sailing through his Apprenticeship programme, he was taken on as a full-time employee and now five years later, he is our Graphic Designer!

This is a great Apprenticeship story and proves that you really can ‘Grow your business with Apprentices’

Fast forward five years and all of our apprentices who have successfully completed their courses have been offered full-time employment in the following departments:

  • Warehousing and Distribution
  • Customer Services
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Finance 

 

In addition, we have internally promoted staff who have excelled following their training programmes. We now have a member of our Business Development team who started with us five years ago as a Customer Services Apprentice, Lucinda Culver. Lucinda tells us... 

'It’s been nearly four years since I completed my Customer Services apprenticeship here at SP Services and since then my role has developed considerably within the company. I spent almost two years working in our shop, looking after our lovely customers face to face and dealing with queries as well as generic customer services work.

I then moved back upstairs to take over as the Invoicing Clerk alongside my customer service role which involved dealing with orders, queries over the phone and email as well as invoicing all orders as part of my day-to-day workload.

It is through my enthusiasm, positivity and willingness to develop across the company that I had been noticed by the senior management team at SP Services. As such, in September 2018, I became a key member of the business development team.

Although this is sometimes challenging, I have taken on responsibilities which I once thought were beyond my abilities but I am very proud of myself at achieving this goal.'

Lucinda Culver, Account Manager, Business Development Team 

Jane continues... 'One of our customer services apprentices from three years ago has now progressed through to our finance department from the credit control side to our purchase ledger administrator.

Although recently two of our apprentices have moved on to other companies, I am thrilled that the training they received with us and the training provider gave them the stepping stone they needed for their futures.

I firmly believe that the apprenticeship programme has great benefits for an SME. Cross Training and flexibility has been key to our success with the programme and gives the staff a much broader experience of the business, promoting employee growth and well-being.

Our apprenticeship/full-time employee statistics speak for themselves!

  • 30% of our Warehouse Team,
  • 40% of our Finance Team
  • 30% of our Customer Services/Business Development Team
  • 20% of our Marketing Team.

 

Natalie, another one of our current key apprentices tells us... 

'I started at SP Services just over nine months ago on the apprenticeship for Business Admin, meaning I work very closely with our customer services and business development team processing orders, raising queries and handling our website orders.

During my time here I’ve learned an extensive amount of knowledge about the systems we use, the industry that we work within and I have also gained wider knowledge from the other departments in the business. I enjoy working at SP and in particular completing the apprenticeship as I get to earn money whilst also being able to gain a valuable qualification which will help me with my future career, hopefully here at SP Services on successful completion of my apprenticeship.'

 

Natalie Rowley, Customer Services Apprentice

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