100 in 100 campaign: How taking on apprentices has brought 'great energy' to Portsmouth telecoms firm

TAKING on apprentices has not only added young talent to a Portsmouth telecoms firm - it’s brought ‘great energy’ too.

Promoted by Shaping Portsmouth
Friday, 26th March 2021, 12:00 am

Luke Perman, 22, from Farlington, completed his Level 4 Professional Accounting Technician Apprenticeship while working as a business communications expert at easyNetworks, an IT and telecoms firm in Kirpal Road, in 2018.

Since then Luke not only moved up the corporate ladder but is now completing his Level 7 CIMA Professional Accountant qualification.

The 22-year-old has also recruited and developed his own team of apprentices as they start their own academic and professional journey through the business.

Luke Perman, Erin Smith and Owen Lashley, who all benefitted from apprenticeships at easyNetworks in Portsmouth

Now he is encouraging other firms to take a chance on an apprentice, as part of the 100 in 100 campaign, which aims to create 100 job opportunities for young people in 100 days.

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Luke said: ‘Highbury College helped me get into the world of work. My tutors were extremely helpful and supportive throughout my studies and I would recommend anyone to get in touch with the apprenticeships team and see what is available.

‘Whereas some apprenticeships only offer a very limited function in a company, at easyNetworks I have been allowed to experience all elements of the business accounting system, which has really boosted my knowledge.

100 in 100

‘I’ve felt my personal development at easyNetworks has always been a priority for the business, and for that I am truly grateful.

‘I now run a small finance team of my own apprentices which I personally love, as I get to see them go through the same experiences I did, and I’m able to offer guidance and support.’

Encouraged by company founder and managing director Richard Gwilliam, Luke’s first hire was accounts executive Cameron Silk, 21 from Paulsgrove, who completed a Level 3 AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting in 2019.

He said: ‘I believe that everyone who can study an apprenticeship should do so – you’ll experience the highs and the lows of working life, all the while earning while you learn.

100 in 100

‘I have enjoyed every minute of working at easyNetworks and moving through the apprenticeship scheme. I felt there was immediate acceptance into the team and that I was able to grow into my role as a valued member of the easyNetworks family.’

Luke and Cameron then went on to recruit Erin Smith, 18, from Gosport, into the finance team.

Erin is currently studying at Highbury College working towards her Level 3 Assistant Accountant Diploma alongside her role of accounts executive.

Erin said she is relishing the challenge of launching her career while working and studying from home.

‘I chose to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to get real life work experience alongside my college course by working in a proper office environment as early as possible,’ she said.

‘Working at easyNetworks has been enjoyable and I feel as though I have already learnt a lot in my role as an apprentice and I look forward to completing the rest of my apprenticeship here.’

It’s not just the finance department that has benefited from the apprenticeship scheme.

Recent engineering recruit Owen Lashley, 17, from Fratton, joined to develop his career as a technical services engineer while studying at Highbury College for a Level 3 Infrastructure Technician Apprenticeship.

Owen said: ‘As an apprentice, I am finding my learning experience with easyNetworks exceptional. The technical team are open, respectful and can teach very well.

‘I feel trusted with growing responsibilities – it’s all about putting customers first at easyNetworks and I’m finding opportunities to put that into practice.

‘My colleagues are always there to provide me support, I am taught something new every day and the team help to ensure that I feel confident with what I have learned.’

Penny Wycherley, interim principal and CEO of Highbury College, said she was delighted to see her apprentices doing so well.

She said: ‘I’m delighted that our partnership with easyNetworks is providing the skills and knowledge our apprentices need to build a bright and promising future.

‘It’s especially pleasing to hear of the success of one of our apprentices who is now recruiting and supporting his own team of apprentices.

‘Apprenticeships are a great way to learn and benefit not just the apprentice, but also employers, our community and the local economy as well.’

MD of easyNetworks Richard said: ‘I firmly believe in the benefits of apprenticeships for young people and the company.

‘We get to recruit a motivated and engaged member of staff and the chance to instil our technical expertise, values and company culture into them.

‘In return they get all the training, guidance and supervision they need to kick-start their career, plus a valuable qualification. It’s a win-win situation and our apprentices bring great energy to the company.'

For more information go to shapingportsmouth.co.uk - or to register an interest e-mail [email protected]

Alternatively go to solentapprenticeshiphub.com

Roll of honour

We're off to a great start with our 100 in 100 campaign - just four weeks after it was launched, 17 employers in the Portsmouth area have already committed to taking on a total of 23 apprentices. Could you join them? For more information, go to shapingportsmouth.co.uk or to register an interest, e-mail [email protected]

Here's our roll of honour so far:

Really B2B - marketing agency based at Lakeside, North Harbour

Portsmouth Diocese - Church of England area covering 139 parishes

STS Defence - technology and engineering business based in Gosport

Eaton Aerospace - aerospace company based in Bedhampton

Transalis - business solutions company based in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Water - utility company responsible for water supply and distribution

Morris Crocker - chartered accountants based in Havant

Highbury College - further education college in Cosham

Tax Assist - accountancy firm in Portsmouth

Yellow Strawberry - hairdressing salon in Hayling Island

*Apprenticeships via training provider Highbury College

South Western Railway – train operating company that runs services in south west London and southern counties of England and on the Isle of Wight

*Apprenticeships via training provider Fareham College

Puddleduck Day Nursery - children's nursery in Milton

The John Doyle Partnership – accountants in Southsea

Highfield Professional Solutions - an employment agency in Durley

Activ8 Minds - an after-school programme in Emsworth

*Apprenticeships via training provider Portsmouth College

Castle Pre-School, Cosham

Jackson and Green - accountants, business and tax advisers in Cosham

*Apprenticeships via training provider HSDC

100 in 100 Partners

Solent Apprenticeship Hub

Hub manager Jodi Fair said: ‘We are thrilled to be playing a part in 100 in 100 and have confidence that this will be beneficial, not only to the individuals who are beginning their career journeys, but also the employers that will be introducing new, skilled employees into their workforce.’

Portsmouth City Council

Cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development and deputy leader Steve Pitt said: ‘The 100 in 100 campaign is a great opportunity to celebrate the important work that is undertaken across the city and the positive steps it takes towards recovery. Collaboration between our incredible businesses and the skills providers who support them is a powerful tool for growth. As a council we are committed to raising aspirations and skills development. That's why we're supporting this campaign, the business growth and the entrepreneurial spirit Portsmouth is known for.’

Fareham College

College principal and CEO Andrew Kaye said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting this initiative encouraging employers to offer new and existing staff and young adults the opportunity to take their first step on to the career ladder, or progress further in their chosen career. Fareham College’s focus has always been to equip its learners with the knowledge, skills and experience to achieve their ambitions and we look forward to enabling as many people as possible to gain valuable industry experience to set them on the path of their chosen career, as well as aiding the local economy and assisting business recovery in the region.’

Highbury College, Portsmouth

Craig Mincher, commercial director, said: 'The 100 in 100 campaign comes at a crucial time for both individuals and businesses in Portsmouth. Highbury College are proud to play a part in a campaign that will offer such hope and tangible outcomes for both local employers and adults of the city.'

Havant and South Downs College

Director for business growth and innovation Aaron Butson said: ‘Everything we do at HSDC is to realise the ambitions of our community and we fully support Shaping Portsmouth and partners in the 100 in 100 campaign. With everyone working together to realise this ambition, we will all have a tremendous impact supporting young people into work and supporting others in our community regain employment and upskilling opportunities.'

Portsmouth College

Vice principal Tom Lloyd said: ‘Portsmouth College is delighted to be able to play a role in the 100 in 100 campaign. Collaboration is critical during a crisis and this project is a fantastic example of employers, training providers and agencies from across the city coming together to promote opportunities and support local people back into employment.’

University of Portsmouth

Claire Middleton, degree apprenticeship manager, said: ‘100 in 100 is a great opportunity to highlight all the wonderful new apprentices and employers that we have in the city and to show the commitment they are making in the road to recovery post-Covid. Collaborating with partners is the best way to raise awareness of apprenticeships at all levels and show the diversity of courses, employers and apprentices that are available in our community.'

Shaping Portsmouth

Chief executive officer Stef Nienaltowski said: ‘Two years ago, we launched our Roadmap to a Career vision and this programme is yet another key part of that. No matter what your age, your career options should not be a hidden secret but something you can get access to and experience readily. This programme aims to give our people that opportunity and, whilst some of the placements are age-limited, some are not. Opportunity is for everyone and Shaping and our partners aim to make that happen with this and following programmes.'

Placement types available as part of the 100 in 100 initiative

Apprenticeships – combine practical training in a job with study. As an apprentice you'll be an employee earning a wage and getting holiday pay. Work alongside experienced staff and gain job-specific skills.

Traineeships – a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last from six weeks up to one year, though most traineeships last for less than six months. You can apply if you're eligible to work in England, unemployed and have little or no work experience.

T-level paid placements – new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to three A-levels. These two-year courses, which launched in September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study. T-levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and 'on-the-job' experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).

Internships – a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment. Can be paid or unpaid.

Work experience (fewer than 70 hours) – enables young, unemployed people to volunteer for placements lasting between two and eight weeks.

Kickstarters – the government's Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.