Can you provide a quick overview of your business?
Revive Leeds is the reuse shop located on East Leeds Household Waste Sorting Site in Seacroft, Leeds. It is the first of its kind in Yorkshire.
We help to reduce landfill by selling unwanted reusable items at affordable prices in our store to the local community. Visitors can buy furniture, clothes, books, DVD’s, CD’s and video’s , TV’s , small electrical items and bric a brac etc. and also enjoy a cup of tea, coffee or pop and a chat as they do so. We also have an eBay store where we sell more valuable or unusual items to generate as much money as possible for our founder charities
The business, which is 5 years old this year, is a social enterprise founded by three local charities, Emmaus Leeds, St. Vincent De Paul and SLATE. All profits generated from Revive Leeds are donated back to these three organisations to enable them to carry on their charitable work across Leeds.
We also offer volunteering and training opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds which provides much needed access to skills and work experience for a wide community of people.
When did the business first start recruiting apprentices?
We recruited our first apprentices in 2013/14 with support from Leeds ATA. These apprentices did most of their training on site with visits from their tutors. One of those apprentices still remains with the business as our ICT Assistant and has been a real asset to the team. This year we’ve recruited another apprentice through QA.
How did/does the recruitment process work?
On both occasions we worked with the training organisations to produce the job description and they identified a shortlist of candidates. Then we interviewed the shortlisted candidates.
How do you help your apprentices settle into the business?
We rotate them around the different areas of the businesses, and introduce them to the staff and volunteers. We also have an induction process which we do with all new staff to the business. We sometimes need to provide a little bit of additional support and encouragement to apprentices, as they can be shy if they’re new to the workplace. Our newest apprentice is a lot younger than our other staff members so we do try to be aware of that when we’re supporting him.
How far have apprentices progressed in your business to date?
The apprentice we retained from the first intake of apprentices really excelled in the role, and went above and beyond our expectations. Jamie is now our full time ICT Assistant, he developed our website from scratch and looks after all of our listings on eBay which is an essential part of our business.
So far he’s studied level 2 in Marketing and Level 3 in Software Development. We’re now exploring the opportunity of him doing a Degree Apprenticeship which we’re very excited about.
Also, one of our mature employees has almost completed her Level 3 in Management through an Apprenticeship training course which is a fantastic opportunity and enables us to develop the expertise in our small team.
What challenges, if any, have you found with recruiting apprentices?
Well, one of the challenges we’ve come up against is the length of time it takes to find the right candidate. The first time we managed to find people through our local connections with the community and Leeds City College. The second time we upped the level of the apprentice we were looking for as the training organisation suggested it would improve our chances and they happened to have candidates at that level that were interested. In the long run this has worked out quite well.
What do you see as being the main benefits to your business?
In the first instance it’s been fantastic to give some younger people an opportunity to gain work experience and a great training opportunity.
As a small employer there’s no doubt that it helps that it’s affordable too.
The apprenticeship format works well as it gives the apprentice a chance to try the role and get some training with the view to obtaining longer term employment if they like it. Also, it’s fantastic for us to discover if they’re right for a long term role with the business too.
Do any apprentices stand out for you in terms of what they’ve achieved?
Well Jamie has been great. He helps us with any IT problems, he’s extremely competent at all of that kind of thing, and he built the website from scratch.
What are your ambitions for the future of apprenticeships in your business?
We’re exploring the potential for getting another site soon, so if that goes ahead then it would be great to run more apprenticeships in the business.
Has your business joined any Trailblazer groups for its sector?
We haven’t been involved in any Trailblazers yet, but it looks interesting. As we’re in the third sector, some of the aspects of the training are not 100% relevant, as they’re more geared to a corporate environment. We don’t want to stop someone doing something they need to do for their course, but sometimes if that aspect isn’t easily covered in our business, we might not find out until later when we get feedback from the tutor. It would be interesting to find out if any apprenticeships are being developed that are a good match for a job role like this in the third sector.
Would you recommend apprenticeships to another small business?
Absolutely and we’ve recommended QA to our founder charities. Apprenticeships are a great way to provide an opportunity to a young person and get another member of the team.