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NowSkills launches a series of case studies to illustrate the benefits of working with a specialist

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NowSkills apprentices at First Contact in Manchester

NowSkills, a leading IT and digital apprenticeship and training provider is embarking on a series of case studies to highlight the benefits of working with an specialist provider.

Set up in 2013, the company, which operates around the UK, is dedicated to offering the leading IT and digital courses and roles including apprentice software developer, information communications technician, data analyst and digital marketer.

Its typical clients include blue chips, SME’s, smaller independent businesses and various public sector organisations and NowSkills has hundreds apprentices at companies at any one time aged 16+ working in a range of very specific IT and digital roles.

Apprentices are trained and mentored closely by a team of quality tutors and provided with the latest skills, techniques and behaviours to ensure they are fully competent in their roles and go on to enjoy rewarding careers.

The first case study to go live is how Now Skills work with First Contact, a family-run IT support provider in Manchester offering a wide range of IT and related services to look after all technical problems an organisation may face. Services include tech support/IT helpdesk, web design, cctv and cabling. As a small, specialist organisation, every team member has to fit well and NowSkills apprentices have played a big part in the recruitment drive over the years, with many apprentices coming in as 18-19-year-olds and leaving many years later, having played an integral role in the ongoing growth, success and reputation of the business.

First Contact currently has seven employees, two of whom have completed apprenticeships and continue to progress within the company, alongside one government-funded digital apprentice-in-training who plays a hands-on part of its specialist workforce. The company had three previous members of staff who started with them as apprentices and stayed for between three-to-15 years, constantly gaining experience and adding value to the team.

The company is a firm believer in the importance of apprentices and the huge benefits of apprenticeships to both businesses and individuals. Director Jeremy Ross says: ‘Many young people don’t want to go to university; they want to start a career as soon as they can. On completion of an apprenticeship at the age of 21, young people have a big advantage over university leavers as they have two-to-three years work experience and training under-their-belts, and are probably already in a full time job. Not only this, but they will have gained valuable general working life experience, developed positive attitudes to work and grown in confidence.

‘We’ve worked with NowSkills for a few years now and the quality of the individuals presented to us have been outstanding. Not only this, but the candidates are generally interested in everything digital, IT and tech, and have the drive and thirst for learning required by our small but hands-on organisation. Having worked with previous apprenticeship providers and candidates not quite working out, we turned to a specialist digital and IT apprenticeship provider who could listen to and understand our needs, but who also understands IT and digital disciplines in depth. NowSkills have provided us with not only the most talented college leavers locally, but also ensured that the apprentices have the right attitudes and interpersonal skills to integrate successfully into the company to last the duration.’

Previous apprenticeship training providers have been lacking in the specialist digital knowledge, skills and qualities required to place successful apprentices at First Contact. One of the main issues with previous partners was the lack of ongoing support and contact, which is key to service-led businesses such as First Contact. First Contact has been impressed by the level of support from the NowSkills team of on-the-ball tutors and says that contact is frequent and of high quality.

The benefits of working with a specialist

NowSkills have been on board with First Contact for the last three-to-four years as their preferred apprenticeship provider. NowSkills’ approach to sourcing and screening potential candidates is second-to-none. First Contact values the manner in which NowSkills assesses potential apprentices, putting them through-their-paces much like a recruitment agency and finding talented candidates who will be a good fit, resulting in many successful apprentices who have gone onto full time employment with First Contact, growing and expanding as people.

Alongside their ongoing NowSkills training and mentoring, apprentices are heavily invested in and nurtured by First Contact, and this, coupled with ongoing practical on the job training across many skills and roles results in successful apprentices who stay with the company as happy, productive employees.

First class digital & IT courses

First Contact’s apprentices are enrolled on infrastructure or digital marketing programmes with NowSkills and depending on the digital apprentice, they receive 1:1 tutoring and live classroom and on-demand resources covering: LANs, WANs, TCP/IP, Windows Servers, hardware, software, M365, Azure, AWS, Virtualisation, Cyber threats, GoogleAds, Email marketing, Competitor research, Content marketing, Social media, Design tools and AI integration.

First Contact currently has several NowSkills apprentices about to complete their courses in digital marketing and infrastructure engineering.

In addition to this, they have a number of people in full time employment in roles who have progressed through the company. One NowSkills apprentice came in as a digital marketer and along the way showed a flair for back end technology. Once he’d completed his digital marketer apprenticeship, he was then trained as an infrastructure engineer and given a full time position as First Contact saw the value in him as an employee.

Jeremy Ross continues: ‘We are huge advocates of young people choosing apprenticeships to start their digital & IT career. We are committed to attracting local apprentices with a passion and interest in all things tech/digital and IT as our team members are hands-on, highly skilled people and good all-rounders with many strings to their bows. As a small service business, you have to be knowledgeable in so many areas and you have to be patient and understanding with clients at businesses of all sizes so we are delighted that we are able to seek out young people with the same enthusiasm and ethos of the wider team via our symbiotic relationship with NowSkills. People who stay with us for many years.’

Mark Norse, managing director at NowSkills says:

‘First Contact is a prime example of a partner employer who shares our own vision of finding the best digital apprentices to meet their demand for skills and recruitment with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to embark on meaningful rewarding careers. First Contact truly embraces its apprentices and helps nurture them into very successful employees who grow and evolve. Working with a close team in this environment, apprentices really do get a first hand chance to be involved in most aspects of the business and the services it provides from the word go, and this is why the screening and selection process is paramount so that we can present suitable candidates to last the duration. First Contact is a great example of a partner who engages closely with our courses, programmes and support team so that we can grow and nurture the apprentice to be successful and ensure that they are excelling in their roles to benefit of the business.’

The next case studies to go live will be The Config Team and Club Systems.

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