Alex Williams: Damovo UK

Alex Williams: Damovo UK

Established in 2001, Horsham-based Damovo was borne from Ericsson and has 1,150 employees worldwide, 260 in the UK and Ireland. Since reviving its Apprenticeship scheme in 2009 it has recruited 21 apprentices, 17 of whom are still in the business, 12 of whom are in permanent roles.

Alex Williams, Operations Director at Damovo represents the company and the local area on the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) Apprenticeship Ambassador Network. He is also in charge of the recruitment and management of apprentices at Damovo. Alex comments,

“Having started my career as an apprentice at Ericsson in 1982, supporting young people in gaining valuable work-based experience and qualifications is something that’s very close to my heart. We currently employ five apprentices, with several former apprentices still continuing their Apprenticeship studies since being made permanent members of staff.”

“Some of the longest-serving employees in our business are former apprentices, including myself, so I know that an Apprenticeship scheme breeds loyalty as well as allowing apprentices to inspire those around them to develop.

“Ideally we like to hold on to good people and utilise them within the business in the areas that work best for us and the individual. Equally, we also equip them to compete in the market if that is ultimately what they want to do.”

Damovo runs Level 2 ICT Practitioner and Level 3 ICT Practitioner Apprenticeships and recruitment is carried out through assessment days coordinated with local colleges and coupled with local press advertising.

Alex comments, “Our main requirements for new apprentices are good grammatical and analytical skills. Beyond that we’re really looking for more ‘soft skills’ – are they well presented, personable, reliable, trustworthy, passionate, a team player etc. These are the facets we look for during the interview / assessment process, as well as basic tests.”

Once new apprentices are selected, they are given exposure to as many areas of the business as possible. Alex explains, “At such an early stage in their career there’s no telling exactly what each individual will take to and where they’re going to excel to our mutual benefit, so it makes sense to widen their experience as much as possible. We like to set out expected learning outcomes for each area of the business they spend time in and the work-based learning workbooks provide us with a great framework to work to.”

Depending on the level that an apprentice enters the business at, the length of an Apprenticeship at Damovo can vary. After 12-18 months apprentices at Damovo are usually made permanent employees, but still continue with their Apprenticeship studies as they move forwards in their career in roles such as engineers or team leaders. Alex comments, “As we ensure that our apprentices become fully productive fairly early on in their Apprenticeship, the move to a permanent role is seamless. The ‘bedding-in’ process which we would usually undergo if recruiting externally is also avoided.”

Alex continued, “When we were embarking on running our Apprenticeship programme we worked with our National Apprenticeship Service representative. However, we have since acted as a reference for other organisations which I believe they found useful, which is exactly the reasoning behind Apprenticemakers.”

“Being able to speak to others that have taken on apprentices can save so much time in the early stages. It helps in understanding the makeup of frameworks and how to engage with and choose the right learning provider for you – something that we ourselves struggled to begin with. As such, I would advise those looking to take on an apprentice to choose your learning provider carefully and ensure you get references for past success – these can make or break your spirit and your Apprenticeship program.”

“Once you have a good support team in place, you will be amazed at the value apprentices can bring to your business.”

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