Core Creative & Yeovil College
The Business: Core Creative
Core Creative is a Graphic Design and Marketing business based in Yeovil. Set up in 2012, the business now has 10 employees. Their business delivers creative solutions for a range of clients including Venta Lighting, Bracknell College and Firefly Tonics.
When they decided to take on a new employer they decided that employing them on an Apprenticeship programme was right for their business, Hannah Turner, Core Creative’s Production Manager explains why they appealed:
“Because it’s a fantastic way to pass on knowledge and help someone to get a worth while qualification”.
Core Creative already knew their soon to be apprentice, Gemma, as she was a friend of the Creative Directors daughter, Hannah says
“We knew she was hard working and eager to get into the industry but found it hard to get that initial chance”.
What amazed the business about their Gemma was how quickly she learnt, they found that as she was in working environment everyday she was able to pick things up incredibly quickly. Hannah says,
“An Apprenticeship enabled us to get someone to nurture and to pass on our knowledge and processes. We try wherever possible to help Gemma see the bigger picture. For example, we are a graphic design studio so we don’t see printers in action, we keep printers proof for her to look at and talk her through how the printing process works”.
Hannah and the team have been delighted with how much Gemma has learnt so far, and they aim for her to be fully fledged Junior Graphic Designer soon, with the opportunity to then work her way up the career ladder.
What has been a surprise is the amount of homework she has had from the training organisation, “the Apprenticeship definitely seems very thorough”, says Hannah.
Although Hannah acknowledges that there’s an investment of time required from the business to start with she says,
“It’s definitely worth it. You are able to train someone to work by your standards. It has been an absolute pleasure to have Gemma as an apprentice and we hope to carry on working along side her as her career develops”.
The Training Organisation: Yeovil College
Yeovil College in South Somerset has over 10,000 apprentices, a number that’s grown significantly over recent years. Adrian Bromfield, the college’s employer engagement contacts manager explains why:
“We have more apprentices now for a number of reasons. Firstly, NAS have been supporting us by sending lots of referrals. Secondly, we’ve been listening to NAS to find out where there are gaps between Apprenticeship supply and demand. Also, we’ve developed a more flexible delivery and that has gone down well with employers.”
Adrian is part of an engagement team that includes skills advisors and planning co-ordinators. As contacts manager, he’s the first point of contact for both employers and for NAS referrals. He works across all the curriculum areas to ensure the college is delivering its many Apprenticeship programmes effectively. Amongst other subjects, Yeovil College offers Apprenticeships in engineering, construction, ICT, print manufacturing, business, health and care and hospitality.
The approximately 700 businesses Yeovil College is working with right now to create Apprenticeships cover a wide spectrum of sizes but the majority are SMEs, and that majority is growing. Asked why he thinks this is, Adrian responds:
“There’s a greater awareness of Apprenticeships among SME employers – they’re realising there are frameworks out there that can meet their business needs. They see Apprenticeship schemes as a good way to develop their businesses long-term. The vast majority of apprentices we recruit aren’t just there the programme, they’re there for the long term.”
Having received a referral from the NAS, Adrian and his team’s first move is to make contact with the employer and establish exactly what their business requires from an apprentice.
“We’ll talk through what they’re looking for and from that we’ll determine an appropriate framework for them. Then we’ll send them a lot of information about the course so they can have a read through, and we’ll also write up a job description for the employer to approve before we put it on the NAS vacancies website.”
As applicants respond to the online advertisement, it is Adrian and his team who do the first recruitment sift. Details of suitable candidates are sent to employers who then select those they would like to interview and, ultimately, offer an Apprenticeship. However, as Adrian explains, employers can find their own apprentices:
“Sometimes the employer has identified a potential apprentice when they make their first enquiry to NAS but they want to make sure there’s an appropriate framework. We work in partnership with employers. Some want to recruit themselves, some want to work with us – it’s a mixed market. A lot like to know we’re here to help them with the recruitment process.”
Once an individual has been selected enrolment begins. This is a process Adrian and his colleagues lead. Their job is to make sure things go smoothly and to reassure employers about any worries they may have. For example, some may worry that Apprenticeships are delivered by tutors with theoretical rather than practical skills:
“It’s important that our staff speak the language of SMEs. They have industry competence. There might be a perception that our lecturers are academics and won’t understand how industry works but, when employers meet them, the barriers fall away.
“Lots of employers are coming back to us after they’ve had one apprentice. That’s because they like the frameworks we offer and they know they can get the quality of apprentice that they are aspiring to.”
As the popularity of Apprenticeships grows, Adrian has noticed that employers who’ve already got apprentices are helping Yeovil College reach future apprentice employers. Employers see this as a chance to network and connect:
“Businesses are not frightened to talk to each other. There is more communication going on now between employers who might be seen as competitors but actually, they’re not. They meet and one may say ‘we’ve got an apprentice’, and the other says ‘how did you get one of those?’ Then we’ll get an enquiry coming through.”
Asked what one piece of advice he’d give to an employer embarking on the Apprenticeship journey, Adrian responds:
“Have patience. This is not a quick fix, let us work with you, it’s a partnership and that is the key word. From the initial engagement all the way through, we’re out to help and support where we can.”