From education to employment

The transformative impact of data intelligence on Baltic Apprenticeships

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As Chief Operating Officer at Baltic Apprenticeships, I bear the responsibility of ensuring the utmost efficiency and effectiveness across our operations and delivery teams. This requires delivering unparalleled service and support to our valued staff, customers, learners, and stakeholders.

Context and Background

Reflecting on the last couple of years, the task of conveying our business performance was intricate and time intensive. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t impossible, however it demanded significant manpower, time, cost and resources to extract the data we needed to make judgements and informed decisions.

As is the case with most businesses, data in some capacity has always played a crucial role in managing our daily operations, when you’re dealing with so many stakeholders, it has to! However, I must admit – being one of the managers a few years back, manually pulling reports and regularly noticing inaccuracies with our data wasn’t the most enjoyable part of my role. This is interesting considering, fast forward to now, reviewing our business performance is actually one of the most rewarding parts of my role!

Gathering data and generating reports used to involve manually inputting information into Excel spreadsheets, often daily. This process involved manually removing duplication and more often than not, seeking someone else’s input to identify inaccuracies.

Through experience, we’ve come to realise the importance of living in the present and ensuring that our decisions align with the current circumstances. However, this wasn’t always the case. The time it took to update and populate a report often meant that even when presented in meetings, the information was somewhat outdated. For a business that evolves and develops daily, this lack of timeliness failed to provide an accurate snapshot of our current performance. Naturally, this resulted in a considerable amount of wasted effort, resources, and the implementation of unnecessary improvements. In certain cases, interventions had already been executed, but we lacked the ability to effectively predict the Return on Investment (ROI) for those improvements.

I don’t believe these problems were unique to us, and I know some businesses are still facing these challenges to this day.

The Solution

The process of automating data within our business unfolded naturally over time, evolving alongside the introduction of new systems and tools that gradually enhanced our understanding of data and our capabilities to utilise it. However, the true impact of data didn’t become apparent until we began investing in our dedicated team with specialised data skills.

Previously, from a management standpoint, data was primarily used to oversee progress, evaluate outcomes, and identify quality concerns on a broad scale. Its focus was largely retrospective, centred on past events and results. For instance, we reviewed what occurred in a given period and how we concluded. This approach was undoubtedly reactive, geared towards assessing performance after the fact rather than taking a proactive stance.

The investment in our own team of Data Analysts has brought about a profound transformation in our business.

Management Output

Managers have undergone a substantial shift in their responsibilities. They are no longer devoting 50% of their time to extracting outdated reports; instead, they can dedicate their efforts to spending valuable time coaching and nurturing their teams, transforming them into high-performing professionals.

Moreover, they are investing more time in deciphering the data and shaping solutions to the challenges that come our way. At Baltic, we wholeheartedly embrace data-driven decision-making, and our managers play a pivotal role in fostering a culture and aspiration to enhance productivity and performance.

We are succeeding with data not simply because we have more or better data, but because our leaders and managers set clear goals, define what success looks like and ask the right questions.

Data Integrity

With so much reliance on the power of our data, the importance of data integrity can’t be overstated. One error in data can have a ripple effect and impact our business’s most vital decisions. Each member of our Analyst team meticulously scrutinises data for errors and adheres to stringent version control methodologies to guarantee the availability of the most accurate data at all times. In summary, the quality of our data is now of a much higher and reliable standard.

Realtime & Forecasting

Real-time or nearly real-time information makes it possible for us to be much more agile, potentially more so than our competitors. Immediate access to real-time data enables us to make more informed and effective decisions. As previously mentioned, when data is days, weeks, or even months old, effective business planning becomes challenging. The most up-to-date information equips us to make swifter decisions, contributing to enhanced decisiveness and ultimately driving increased profitability.

Improved Quality & Service

Centralising our data function has had a profound impact on the quality of our service. We now have the ability to measure the effects of our implemented changes and proactively address any declining trends in quality. By comparing different versions of our apprenticeships, we ensure a continued positive trajectory, closely evaluating achievement outcomes against national averages to guarantee that we’re surpassing the expected benchmarks.

However, these examples only scratch the surface. Our team has taken the lead in devising our retention strategy, aiming to enhance learner retention across various disciplines. This involves analysing industry data, particularly in relation to job roles and sectors, and proposing improvements to ensure that more learners remain engaged and successfully complete their programmes. This initiative alone has led to substantial financial savings by reducing waste and enhancing the quality of our offerings for each apprentice. In turn, this supports our relationships with the employers we collaborate with, effectively future-proofing these partnerships.

People & Culture

An important aspect to highlight is that our investment in data skills isn’t limited solely to the data team. Across Baltic, various departments, functions, and roles are integrating data into their daily operations. While the tasks might not be as intricate, the acquisition of skills in automating data, cleaning data, visualising data, and mastering the fundamentals of Excel has brought about a revolutionary change in how these roles function. These acquired skills have translated into increased job satisfaction among individuals and have prompted them to assume additional responsibilities. As a result, they’re progressing further in their careers, aligning seamlessly with our mission to foster the growth of high-performing individuals and teams.


In conclusion, the emphasis on data and the cultivation of data skills at Baltic Apprenticeships has returned profound results. I can say with confidence that we now possess greater control and visibility than ever before. This newfound perspective instils confidence within our teams and throughout our business, ultimately allowing us to derive a sense of satisfaction when coming to work and changing the lives of young people.

By Chief Operating Officer, Brooke Urwin, Baltic Apprenticeships

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