The UK’s market-leading independent distributor of computer hardware and IT products and equipment is helping develop youngsters’ skills and experience in the workplace by employing three apprentices as part of a funded programme.
The Change Organisation currently has three trainees on its books. As a strong supporter of apprenticeship schemes, the company not only provides employment opportunities for the youngsters it enrols, it funds training for their role through college placements.
Ashley Sterland, Communications Director at The Change Organisation, which works independent of many manufacturers, enabling it to provide IT equipment from major hardware and software brands at competitive prices, said: “Apprenticeships provide us with a low-risk, low-cost means of recruitment and it provides candidates with an opportunity to get on the career ladder while providing a qualification at the end of their apprenticeships. We’ve also found that many of our successful and long-serving staff started at the bottom and have worked their way up in our organisation, so apprenticeships provide a good stream of candidates to follow this same model.”
In June, the government embarked on its plan to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 by giving the schemes equal legal treatment as degrees. The initiative coincided with a report which stated 44% of the UK’s IT companies claimed a digital skills gap was affecting staff productivity.
The Change Organisation’s apprentices have been employed for between six and 12 months across different areas of the business. Trainee, Danny Smith, who works in the company’s warehouse, a secure site in south east England filled with a wide-range of IT products which are available for same-day delivery across London and the Home Counties, said: “Apprenticeships provide the perfect balance between learning and working. I applied for an apprenticeship at The Change Organisation because I wanted to get more IT qualifications, and building computers was a hobby of mine, anyway. I’ve not been disappointed. I’ve learnt how to break-down, build and troubleshoot servers and PCs. Work and learning matters aside, the day-to-day environment is excellent, especially the banter in the warehouse.”
Matt Prince, a Sales Support apprentice at The Change Organisation, said despite a challenging start, the role has more than lived-up to expectation. “In the first six weeks I really doubted if I could make it here,” he said. “But the support of two senior staff got me through those difficult times, and I haven’t stopped enjoying it since. Now I’m hoping I could move into my own sales career.”
To boost the number of apprenticeships, the government promised to invest £2 for every £1 of contribution made by the company employing the trainee, up to a maximum threshold set for each apprenticeship standard.
Ryan Amis, an Apprentice Account Manager at The Change Organisation, said the co-payment agreement between the government and employer equates to money well spent. “Apprenticeships are a better alternative to university,” he said. “It’s just a shame schools don’t educate students about the benefits of apprentice schemes, as hopefully it’ll lead to a qualification and a long-term career.”
With the government investing £18 million in Tech Partnership, an initiative to encourage the nation to be more tech-minded in order grow the global digital economy, it’s predicted the number of IT specialists in the UK could rise to 1.6 million by 2024, representing a 28% increase on the previous decade.
Ashely Sterland said: “It remains to be seen if the government’s scheme will encourage more people to take-up apprenticeships. To reach its 3 million target, it’s important Westminster listens to multi-national companies and small medium enterprises such as ourselves to get a more comprehensive idea of how it can be achieved.”
Established in 1993, The Change Organisation is a market leading specialist distributor of computer hardware, software and associated services. For more information, visit <www.thechange.co.uk