5 mins with Ben Turner, Projects and Service Delivery Manager, Premier Choice Group

What prompted you to hire your first apprentice / s?  

Our apprentice scheme has proved to be a successful process of recruiting and nurturing young, enthusiastic and talented individuals to be skilled company assets. Whenever the company is considering expansion, we pay particular attention to the skill set of the team at that moment in time. We are proud to invest in our own talent, growing and developing our in-house experts who then feel a stronger affiliation with the company – this would be our first choice. Where timescales allow, we are delighted to recruit employees who are willing to learn and progress on the job and we have found apprenticeships to be a very effective way of doing this. With the support of the apprenticeship scheme and in-house initiatives, we are able to train new recruits to be exactly what the company needs and more.

How many apprentices have you now taken on?

In recent years, we have employed eight apprentices across the company; from Field and Service Desk Engineers to Project and Administrative staff. We’re delighted with the caliber of employees that we acquire through this process.

How did the ITP help, and how did you find the process?

Once a vacancy or opportunity for expansion is apparent and we have agreed that an apprentice is the correct solution, we approach the ITP who then shortlist their candidates for us to review and invite for interview. The ITP have been really helpful and efficient at recruiting our apprentices, taking away all the hassle that comes with recruitment process.  With dedication to promoting the professional and career development of members through professional registration, training, mentoring and qualifications, we know we are getting the best apprentices possible.

Where are those apprentices now?

All eight of our apprentice intake are now in full time employment with Premier Choice. The fact that our apprentices qualify, are offered full-time permanent roles, and choose to stay with Premier Choice Group is a real testimony to the success of the apprenticeship and training schemes we have here.

Ben, one of our Service Desk apprentices who is in the final stages of his apprenticeship, said, “I have been supported right from the start but have also been pushed by my work colleagues to try new things and just go for it. I believe I am incredibly lucky to get this apprenticeship.” Ben has a real desire to transition through the Service Desk and out into the Field and has already been out on site with our Field Engineers to support installations.

Former apprentice George said, “I would highly recommend becoming an apprentice to any young person who is keen to kickstart their career in telecoms. It’s a fast-growing industry with deep roots in the infrastructure and business of nearly every country. If you are considering becoming an apprentice, then go for it!”. George has since been promoted twice internally.

Another past apprentice, Gabriel, said, “As I have progressed through my qualification my knowledge has grown and continues to do so, this allows me to take on more complex tasks and fix them independently. As my knowledge and confidence increases I am given more responsibilities by my senior colleagues, I am also consulted by other members of staff on technical matters. It’s definitely worthwhile and I am very glad that I did the course.” Gabriel is keen to continue his personal development and improve his knowledge; he recently embarked on another course at London Metropolitan University to obtain a professional qualification as a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA).

What benefits have your apprentices have brought to your business / what difference have they made?

We endeavor to accelerate development at Premier Choice and one of our core objectives is ‘Investing’; We work on developing skills and progressing individuals and the organisation to be more effective now and in the future. We encourage development and enable growth by providing appropriate and timely training and support. Our apprentices and an excellent example of this in practice; they bring fresh ideas, enthusiasm and eagerness and we will support them in their professional growth from day one.

What would you advise other businesses considering starting an apprenticeship scheme?

Our apprentices have wholeheartedly grabbed the opportunities presented to them and have really made the roles their own. We would recommend employers who take on apprentices to particularly plan out the weeks when the apprentices are away (college weeks or annual leave) because it doesn’t take long before you depend on them as part of your team and notice their absence!

Do you think apprenticeships could be the answer to filling the skills gap in our industry? 

With the right structure and training in place, there is a real opportunity for both apprentices and businesses to succeed. From the company’s side, we are able to watch our apprentices grow, witness the quality of their work improve and benefit from their developing skills and experience. Our apprentices feel supported throughout their training and appreciate being able to earn and learn simultaneously. They also gain experience that university students do not get exposure to. This investment in personnel encourages loyalty and we retain these staff as assets as a result of their satisfaction with the company. Our Managing Director, Nick Stansfield, said, “We’ve been an established business for almost 19 years now. We’re pleased those who grow through the apprenticeship schemes and strive to better themselves with us.”

How has the apprenticeship levy affected you?

The apprenticeship levy has been a huge help financially and an additional reason we have doubled the amount of apprentices we have taken on.

Find out more about the ITP apprenticeship scheme or Premier Choice Group.

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