Stockport-based ecommerce firm Shopblocks found itself falling behind in an ever-changing industry. In software development, techniques quickly become outdated and staff constantly had to learn new skills. Shopblocks needed to give staff time to explore new development areas, but it was hard to find capacity without damaging existing work.
The first step for Shopblocks was to work with existing staff to find out which skills it was possible to learn in-house. In some cases, new technologies were too complex for staff to fit around current work, so the company made the decision to hire staff who could dedicate their time to the new technology.
Since the market changes so quickly, CEO Kevin Jones opted to bring in apprentices rather than a dedicated expert. An expert would have ensured the skills were in place immediately, but the company would have been stuck when technology evolved again.
The apprentices were trained by senior members of staff on existing Shopblocks technology, but they also had enough time to focus on emerging areas of the business. It helped to establish a training culture within the company – each team member could learn from and educate others.
Shopblocks has found the apprenticeship schemes “very effective”. Several of its apprenticeships have stayed with the company into full-time employment, growing the team to 15 staff members. The company plans to continue working with local councils, training providers and youth employment professionals to recruit candidates. Some of its strongest team members joined through apprenticeship schemes.
“We’ve found that our employees enjoy getting a variety of experiences and learning new skills,” Jones explained. “Our culture’s all about the continual improvement of the company and our staff members, so it’s important that everyone working here enjoys learning and problem-solving.”