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Equipment hire and support services company Speedy Services has recently shifted the focus of its own apprenticeship scheme when it became one of the first companies in England to take on marketing apprentices. With comment from Steve McIntyre, Head of Group Marketing.

Headquartered in Newton-le-Willows, the company has always taken on apprentices across its network of 325 depots for technically based roles but this is the first time they have taken on apprentices in a ‘back office’ function. Working with Manchester-based company called Skills Solutions, which acts as a mediator between young people and the companies offering apprenticeships, the company was able to offer three young people from their local area the chance to train for a marketing qualification with Speedy.

Steve McIntyre, Head of Group Marketing at Speedy, said: “Apprenticeships are a great way to grow your own talent and we’ve been recruiting them across the business for years. “Up until now, we have only offered apprenticeships in our depots, and in more traditional technically-related occupations. This is the first time that we have taken on apprentices in a discipline like marketing. “For us, expanding the apprenticeships programme was the responsible thing to do given the economic climate. We have a robust sustainability strategy, One Plan, and for us, investment in young people and our community is a big part of what we’re trying to achieve. Sustainability isn’t just a matter of switching of the lights and recycling your printer paper, it’s about ensuring your workforce is sustainable too.

“So much has changed for school leavers in the past five years. Before, the economy was healthy and university was relatively affordable. Now, fears about how easily sizeable tuition fees can be repaid means that to many it seems out of the question, but nor can they walk out of school and straight into a job with real prospects. With youth unemployment soaring they’re lucky to find any sort of employment. “The problem for so many young people is that they can’t get a job without experience, and they can’t get experience without first having a job. It’s Catch 22, and not all school leavers are able to undertake lengthy unpaid ‘internships’ in order to get a foot in the door of their chosen profession. Apprenticeships are a way to give young people a chance in a way that will simultaneously benefit your business.

“Of course it may seem counterintuitive to invest in apprenticeships when experienced workers are being laid off, but if you don’t invest in the next generation of talent, then industry won’t have the skills it needs to meet demand when the upturn does come, not to mention the social cost of doing little to help large groups of disenfranchised young people. “All of our apprentices are locally based, and all of them have a real passion for what they do. Without an apprenticeship scheme like ours, they could have been lost to another sector or moved to London in order to get the sort of job they wanted. Being able to offer them a chance to learn with us means we play a small part in stemming the ‘brain drain’ from the North West. “Our apprentices are already making an enormous contribution to the work of our marketing team, and I would definitely urge more companies to consider establishing apprenticeships in non-traditional disciplines such as marketing. Certainly, we’re exploring how we can roll it out across other areas of the business.”

Chris Rand, one of the marketing apprentices, added: “Being an apprentice at Speedy is really going to make a difference to my career: “I think doing an apprenticeship was a better choice than going to university for me. At university you would have learnt the theory of marketing, and probably been told you didn’t have enough hands-on experience to get a job at the end of it. With an apprenticeship, you get to learn the theory during your days at college, and then put it into practice almost immediately in your days at work. “I’ve learnt so much from the team at Speedy already, and I’m looking forward to learning more and continuing to progress.”

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