The first raft of employees has completed South West Communications Group’s inaugural apprenticeship scheme.
Initiated in 2017, swcomms’ board has utilised a £200k commitment to the Apprenticeship Levy Scheme with bespoke NVQ Level 3 IT, communications & administration qualifications from Exeter College.
The scheme was open to all non-technical staff and created 16 apprenticeships within the incumbent workforce with the long-term plan to build on this number in the next few years.
swcomms’ commercial director Jon Whiley said: “We have embraced change following an industry transformation that has seen a shift towards cloud-based products. We are no longer just selling solutions but selling services, which means we require our staff to have a greater understanding of what our services are and to develop their customer service skills.”
Exeter College created a bespoke NVQ IT Professional Level 3 or Business Administration Level 3 course tailored to swcomms’ business needs with a choice of 27 modules to boost the individual skills of each employee.
swcomms has also fully embraced the more traditional apprenticeship for school leavers having engaged three apprentices in addition to the existing full-time employee candidates.
Mr Whiley added: “We have turned apprenticeships on their head! Not only do we look for young talent to nurture into future communications and ICT professionals, we have looked at our existing staff from all departments to upskill them for an ever-changing industry by giving them time to study for a formal qualification.
“With Exeter College’s wonderful support, our staff have successfully honed their skills to make a positive contribution to improving our customer service delivery to give us a competition edge in a very congested market.”
Heralded as an inspirational flagship example of apprentice programmes of its type, Exeter College has showcased the swcomms model to other employers in the UK and overseas.
swcomms has also won awards for the scheme last year, including the Comms Business Apprentice Scheme of the Year, the Express & Echo DevonLive Apprentice Employer of the Year and Exeter College’s Apprentice Employer of the Year.