This week, the CIPD has released a report that indicates a growing trend amongst UK employers offering apprenticeships – with almost half (47%) in 2014 compared to less than a third (31%) in 2013.
More businesses outside of the manufacturing and engineering industries are looking to recruit young talent – offering work placements, apprenticeships and graduate schemes. It’s commonplace for businesses within the service and retail sectors to now have established programmes too.
So, we thought we would dive into the archive to look back on our article; Cascade’s HR and payroll software apprentices – where are they now..? and remind ourselves of the success of our own apprenticeship scheme.
In July 2012, Cascade appointed its first-ever HR and payroll software apprentices. Keen to develop the team and offer another career progression route to ambitious young individuals, Cascade selected three successful candidates who subsequently joined the busy service desk. With the help and guidance of Cascade’s experienced team, they quickly became integrated into the busy operation of our Leeds headquarters. But two years on, where are they now?
Louis Bradley, a service desk consultant
Fast forward to 2014 and Louis is now a permanent fixture on Cascade’s service desk. His commitment to the role and his professional outlook means that his product knowledge, problem-solving ability and customer service levels have rocketed.
No two days are the same in this department, and the ever-changing nature of the role would pose too great a pressure for many individuals. But Louis has taken everything in his stride and maintains a cool head even in the most challenging of scenarios. He is now a popular member of the team and a friendly voice to guide customers through their queries.
Louis has just the right attitude for the continually evolving world of HR and payroll technology. He doesn’t rest on his laurels and acknowledges that there’s always more to learn. That’s why he accompanies product consultants when they support new clients with the implementation of their systems, so he can continue to gather as much knowledge as he can, from very different business environments. Customers also have the opportunity to put a face to the name, which helps build trust and rapport as their relationship with Cascade unfolds.
With a variety of internal progression opportunities open to Louis, who knows what his future with Cascade will bring. But at the moment he is content with his role on the service desk. He explains: “I’m really enjoying working on the service desk and think I can continue to progress my skills in this department. I can see how much I’ve grown as a person, not only in terms of my knowledge but also my maturity and confidence, so why change something that is working very well?
“We have a new service desk manager too, so I look forward to seeing how our team continues to grow over the coming months.
“For anyone considering the ‘earning and learning’ route, I would say GO FOR IT!”
Nathan Herrington, a service desk consultant soon to move across to product consultancy
Like Louis, Nathan completed his apprenticeship on Cascade’s service desk and has become a valuable member of the 14-strong team. The mentoring and guidance of his more experienced colleagues – plus the opportunities for him to lead his own internal workshops and gradually deliver training on client sites – has seen his confidence, and Cascade know-how, flourish.
As his customer service talents have grown so too have his problem-solving abilities and commitment to supporting organisations in their utilisation of Cascade. So much so, that in January he will leave the service desk to become a product consultant. Spending the majority of his time on the road, Nathan will meet new clients and guide them through how to use Cascade and how to maximise their utilisation of key functionality as their experience of the software evolves.
Commenting on his decision to become a Cascade apprentice, Nathan elaborates: “I knew that learning on the job would prove a much more valuable – and enjoyable – career move for me. My heart wasn’t in further education so I investigated the other opportunities available. And I’m so glad I did.
“I have developed a strong work ethic which will stay with me for the rest of my career. I have been encouraged to set goals for myself and Cascade has given me the support I’ve needed to get cracking and achieve every one of them.
“Not all my friends could say they enjoy going to work, but I can. Cascade’s culture is one of positivity, and that is hugely beneficial for staff as well as customers. There is always an opportunity for you to progress as an individual as well, which keeps me energised in my role and, of course, translates into further benefits for customers.
“The recent IRIS acquisition shows just what a reputation Cascade has in the market, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Aman Paul, a tester within Cascade’s software development team
During the six weeks that Aman spent on Cascade’s service desk when he first joined the company, his technical ability shone through. Having identified his skill-set and committed to offering tailored learning and development plans for each of its apprentices, Cascade therefore provided Aman with the opportunity to move into the business’s software development team.
Over the past two years, he has amassed a great deal of software knowledge and is now an integral part of the testing team, responsible for rigorously putting all new product releases through their paces, before they are deployed to clients. A sponge for new information, he continues to shadow product consultants on customer sites throughout the UK and shares his newfound insights with the wider development team upon his return. And twice he has won Cascade’s MVP (most valuable professional) award, as voted for by colleagues.
Speaking of his time with Cascade, Aman comments: “In only two years I have established a solid career route for myself and, having attended as many courses and workshops as possible, I have a portfolio of qualifications to my name. When coupled with the experiences I have gained as Regression Project Leader, I know that I am in a much stronger position than if I had chosen the University route.
“I’m sure there will be many other people, like me, who are keen to enter the world of work and begin their career as soon as possible. For those people, I cannot recommend an apprenticeship highly enough.
“The success of my apprenticeship is a result of my commitment to learn, work hard and study for the relevant qualifications I need. I have a level three diploma in IT systems and networking for instance, and having secured my foundation level ISTQB software testing certificate, I would like to work towards the intermediate qualification next. The support of Cascade has also played a crucial part in my career development to date – their friendly, helpful, ‘can do’ attitude is not just reserved for clients. I am very grateful for the opportunities they have given me and don’t think I’d be as confident an individual, living in my own apartment if I hadn’t joined the team.
“My sights are set on becoming the testing team leader one day – watch this space.”
Having reflected on the success of these three apprenticeships, Cascade has just appointed a new apprentice service desk consultant Ryan Wakefield, who is embarking on his own journey with our Leeds-based team of HR and payroll software experts. Please say hello to him if you come to visit us, or listen out for him if you call our service desk.
We’ll keep you updated as to his progress!