This article first appeared on the NEAAN website where you can find many other resources and case studies.
Lou Doyle, CEO of Mesma, on their two-year journey employing apprentices and how it has been such a valuable experience for everyone on the team.
What does your organisation do?
Our organisation offers software and advisory services to the education and employment sectors. We understand students and customers matter most to our clients, so we do everything we can to provide support that helps them to deliver high quality services.
How long has it been employing apprentices?
We have now been employing apprentices for two years and it has been a valuable experience for everyone on the team. They have brought new ideas to the table since day 1.
How many apprentices (approximately) has your organisation delivered?
We currently have four apprentices at Mesma and two T Level students on industry placement. We’re a small team so the apprentices have quickly become a huge part of our operation. All are new recruits to the business in software development, business and marketing roles, with apprenticeships from Level 3 to Level 6.
Why are apprentices important?
The apprentices at Mesma are critical to our recruitment pipeline as a microbusiness to help us grow our own talent. They are also vital as we build a strong reputation as a scaling north east business. Our mission as founders is to provide high-quality job opportunities in the region with apprenticeships being a key feature of this. We strive to make room in our business for new talented people to work alongside our existing team members. Everyone gains from what we can learn from one another.
What is the biggest benefit apprentices provide?
There are many benefits to having apprentices in the workplace, but the benefit I’d say we have found most useful is being able to resolve recruitment challenges in roles that we have found hard to fill, such as software developers. It isn’t always easy to compete with large employers in the region so we are creative and forward-thinking in how we recruit and retain staff.
What is the most challenging aspect of providing apprenticeships?
The most challenging aspect about providing apprenticeships is the capacity to mentor an apprentice, especially as a small business. But we have worked tirelessly to overcome this in order to reap the benefits.
What would you say to any business considering providing apprenticeship?
Apprentices should be a feature of any talent management strategy, as it ensures we have the right people in the right roles now and in the future. It makes a lot of commercial sense. A good strategy recognises and encourages different entry routes into occupations, without an over-reliance on any one of them. We have gained significantly from the diversity in our workforce that apprenticeships have brought to our thinking and the resulting products.
Finally, why is the North East Apprenticeships Ambassadors Network important?
We hope to add value to the Apprenticeships Ambassadors Network by encouraging SME engagement in growth sectors. We are well-known in the apprenticeship sector as having a strong, supportive voice. In our day job, we are recognised nationally for our leadership in driving quality in apprenticeships through our work with colleges, training providers and universities. As an employer, it’s been great for us to have received accolades for our focus on providing alternative routes into employment. With the north east recruiting too few apprentices, we felt we could combine these two things to support the apprenticeship agenda and help increase the numbers to retain skilled people in our region.