Taking on apprentices has altered the way business operates at Bath-based company Gradwell Communications.
The communications technology company has taken on five apprentices from Bath College over a two year period.
Each of these has gone on to work full-time at Gradwell and have helped to put customer experience at the heart of the company.
Martin Lippiatt has tracked the career progression of all five former apprentices, who started out studying for a Level 2 customer service NVQ.
He said: “We used to take on technical people that weren’t necessarily customer focused, so the rapport that needs to be built with customers wasn’t necessarily there.
“We flipped that round and said ‘let’s get customer focused people in and we can teach them the technical side of things.’
“It’s much easier to recruit. Going through agencies can be really expensive and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but with the apprenticeship scheme they can learn from us and we can develop them in a way that fits with Gradwell.”
Rory Larsen-Baker was 18 when he applied for a customer service apprenticeship at Gradwell through Bath College.
As a new recruit, he started out helping customers with product queries, and last year he was given a new job as technical account manager.
He said: “It’s similar to the customer services job, but it pinpoints you in a different direction. I call up new customers to see how they’re getting along.
“I didn’t have a job at the time and I was looking for something IT based. It was a lot more of an adult environment, at least compared to school.
“You got a lot more freedom and responsibility, which was what I needed at the time. I’ve already recommended trying an apprenticeship to other people. It’s a great thing to do.
“I know quite a few people who need jobs and are looking for them. Part of the reason is they have the qualifications, but not the work experience.
“With an apprenticeship you get both – it’s experience and qualifications.”
Mr Lippiatt said: “With the apprenticeships, a lot of people still have this idea that they will be photocopying and making coffee all day, but it’s a proper experience.
“Our apprentices study for customer service NVQs and their time with us allows them to put into practice what they’re learning at college.”
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