Apprenticeship is perfect for Nikki

The staff at The Tess Group based in Grange Park
The staff at The Tess Group based in Grange Park

A YOUNG employee at The Tess Group is delighted with opportunities the firm has given her.

Nikki Wilson left school in June 2010, and struggled to find work. She said: “A lot of employers want someone with experience but you need a job to get experience. Getting an apprenticeship seemed the best route for me and that’s what Tess offered.”

The Tess Group provides a bespoke training and apprenticeship service to clients throughout the UK and Nikki was one of nine apprentices hired by the Northampton firm in February to help them with their increasingly successful business. They were taken on to help the firm find suitable apprentices for their clients, with each one being offered the chance to change or expand their roles, and the option of a permanent contract after a year.

Nikki has already moved away from the call centre to a more administrative role having shown an aptitude for it.

Contact centre manager Becky Bawden said: “We see how people develop in their first professional job and alter their roles to suit their talents.

“Nikki has very good organisational and written skills, and is good at seeing tasks through so it made sense for her to help with the administration and follow-ups for the call centre team.”

Group founder Steve Laws, an ex-policeman, has also designed the UK’s only accredited Traffic Management Operative course, which the firm runs for clients ranging from UK Athletics to Reading Football Club.

“In 2009 the Association of Chief Police Officers started to say that the police would no longer be responsible for traffic management at events and I realised that would leave a gap so I developed a course for event organisers with help from the NCFE,” explained Mr Laws. “When I marketed it there was an immediate take-up and it has grown holistically since then.

“Everyone who passes the course is given a photo ID and the details of what training they’ve done is put on a database. We get people ringing us up asking us to train their staff.”

Mr Laws and his partner Rod Doyle are delighted by the impact the apprentices have had on the business. “It has been really rewarding having the opportunity to employ young people,” said Mr Laws. “They’ve had a huge impact on the business. Rod and I were working 16- to 18-hour days before.”

They hope to take on another 10 young people this year.

Mr Doyle said: “We’re trying to offer a sustainable career for all our apprentices, either here or elsewhere.”

As well as taking on more apprentices, the firm is investigating the idea of offering its services overseas. “We are having lots of conversations about it at the moment,” said Mr Laws. “Event organisers have the same issues everywhere and we don’t want to miss the opportunity. Until we knock on doors and ask, we won’t know what’s possible.”

“It is all about capacity and capability,” explained Mr Doyle. “We want to make sure we keep doing things right and don’t overstretch ourselves, but you are always just one idea away from success. We get a lot of repeat business which I like to think is due to our honest and friendly approach, and because people can see the benefits of up-skilling staff.

“We listen and try to understand people’s needs and then come up with a solution, we don’t just sell them something.”

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