We got the year off to a flying start. We were shortlisted for Small Employer of the Year and Courtney, Operations Administrator, was shortlisted for Apprentice of the Year at the Glasgow Guarantee Awards. The whole team got dressed up to attend the ceremony and we were absolutely delighted to scoop both awards we were nominated for! A huge achievement for both Set Training and for Courtney.
February was a busy month preparing for our first ever Set Training Apprenticeship Awards where we were preparing to recognise apprentices who had gone the extra mile during their apprenticeships. After lots of deliberation, the shortlist was released and published on social media.
February also marked one of our biggest milestones and achievements to date. We were awarded our first ever direct contract with Skills Development Scotland to deliver Modern Apprenticeships! Before this, we had subcontracted from larger providers. The whole team had put in a huge amount of work to get the business to the stage and standard to be ready to take on this responsibility. We were really on a roll!
Our Award winners were announced, and we went out to see the apprentices in the workplace and surprised them with their well-deserved awards. We loved the experience and being able to see how the apprentices had progressed and being able to recognise them for their fantastic efforts.
In the news, there was more and more talk of COVID-19 and we followed government guidance to work from home. Went to work from home for what we predicted would be 2 weeks…little did we know the extent of what was to come…
The impact of COVID hit and the unknown meant a lot of employers who had planned to recruit apprentices were no longer able to do so. Antoinette our assessor could not get out to our apprentices and had to look at transitioning our delivery of training online. This was an exceptionally fast transition, and our apprentice employers were incredibly supportive throughout this time. Antoinette’s delivery of her training was not compromised, and she did a fantastic job of adapting so quickly with no disruption to any of our learners.
The team had Cara from the National Autistic Society deliver a training session for us on supporting young people on the spectrum.
With no signs of COVID-19 going anywhere anytime soon, many of our apprentices were on Furlough. Thankfully, they could continue training and Antoinette our assessor continued to help our learners through their Diplomas and she even helped some of them achieve their diploma whilst on lockdown. A great achievement for our hardworking young people.
Set Training hit another great milestone. We gained approval to deliver the Diploma in Digital Marketing, an excellent addition to our list of qualifications. As a result of this, Paul joined our team to assess the qualification and he has been a fantastic addition to our team. Even managing to fit in just fine with a bunch of females!
Jenny hosted a webinar on how to find a positive direction during lockdown for young people, in Partnership with BNI. We had noticed an increase in apprentices and young people beginning to struggle mentally with the impact of COVID-19 and we felt it was important to do what we could to support both young people and parents or carers who had young people at home.
Our recruitment process was fully transitioned online with Courtney having interviews via Zoom as opposed to face-to-face interviews which we had been working with previously. When helping an employer take on an apprentice, all young people go through a 3-tier screening process before reaching final interview with an employer.
Our new online recruitment process was a change but was still successful. We started our first remote apprentice at Crystal Content – They started their apprentice without ever meeting her face to face and she started working from home. Something we never would have expected to experience – starting apprenticed working from home. We have now gone on to do this with several positions and it is working well, it is never something we anticipated doing, yet our young people have been fantastic at adapting, as have our employers been brilliantly supportive.
Things started to really pick up again in August which was brilliant – as restrictions relaxed, businesses picked up recruitment. This also meant that we got too busy to cope with the workload and it was time to take on a new apprentice ourselves. We started recruiting for a Digital Marketing and Recruitment Apprentice.
Set Training grew by one and Caitlin joined our team to look after recruitment and marketing. Caitlin has fitted in perfectly and everything that you see across our social channels is coming from Caitlin now.
More and more apprentices completed their apprenticeships and went on to retain their jobs and progress which we were delighted to see considering the pandemic.
It was time to reflect on the successes of our apprentices and supportive apprentice employers. Skills Development Scotland run an annual apprenticeship awards, so we submitted some nominations. Watch this space to see if any of them make the shortlist!
As a response to the increased effect of COVID on the mental wellbeing of our young apprentices, Set Training worked alongside Adrian Murtagh from Just Smart Thinking to be educated on what we can do to support young people through what may be a difficult time for them.
The Scottish Government announced a £5000 incentive to employers who recruit a Modern Apprentice into their business or upskill their existing team which will be a huge support to help young people into employment as well as helping businesses recruit where they may not have been able to do so before.
Whilst there has been a lot of doom and gloom in 2020, there have also been a lot of positives and I believe it is important to focus on these to grow. We learn from difficulties and come out stronger. I hope everyone has a well-deserved festive break and let’s not try and predict 2021!