Growing an IT business with the Apprenticeship programme

My company, Atlas Computer Systems would not exist had it not been for our involvement in the Apprenticeship programme, writes Simon Swords, manager at Atlas Computer Systems.

My company, Atlas Computer Systems would not exist had it not been for our involvement in the Apprenticeship programme, writes Simon Swords, manager at Atlas Computer Systems.

I met my business partner through the programme, and taking on apprentices has enabled us to scale up our business organically at a time when we had no other means of finding suitable people to bring on to our small team.

I had been aware of the Apprenticeships programme for several years following my employment at an organisation specialising in training. It was during this time that I realised the incredible results an Apprenticeship could have on a business if enthusiastic learners and committed employers were matched with each other.

Shortly after starting Atlas three years ago, my business partner and I were stuck in a vicious circle. We required extra hands to cope with our growing customer base but didn't possess the contacts or the financial means to attempt a large scale recruitment drive. It was then that we made the decision to get in touch with a local training provider and ask them to locate a learner to meet our requirements.

We were happy to take on a learner that didn't have the technical know-how, as we knew this would be a long-term investment in terms of our time and effort.

Our first apprentice, Steven Day, joined us on 12 November 2007 and was a huge success. He is still with us today and working in the role of software developer. We now boast a team of young people who are eager to learn new technologies whilst providing a high standard of work to our customers.

Our knowledge of the Apprenticeships programme has given us a major advantage over our competitors. We are able to utilise the skills of employees we might not have otherwise met had we followed the traditional channel of software developer recruitment.

We have expanded our workforce and our client base with the input of talented and creative learners who are paid a fair manageable wage, but less than an experienced programmer with years of development experience would command.

Our learners are increasing their skills and life experience working here at Atlas, and we are keen to set an example to our community of the benefits of training and supporting the next generation.

Our recruitment and staff running costs are lower than the industry standard. This is incredibly important given the current climate we find ourselves in. Furthermore where possible we are able to pass our cost savings to our customers allowing us to attract work that we may otherwise have missed out on.

We envisage that we will be long term advocates of Apprenticeships and will continue to promote and use the scheme for many years to come.

Atlas Computer Systems currently employs three apprentices within its workforce of eight people. The company is based at the University of Essex and provides web design and development online marketing hosting and software application solutions. Customers include businesses across a range of industries and sizes from FTSE 250 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups.

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