Seaham firm gives apprentices keys to the boardroom

A North East business has called for more entrepreneurs to look at apprentices as a way of driving their first phases of growth – and is giving its latest intake the keys to the boardroom to prove they have what it takes.

As the latest figures from the Skills Funding Agency show, a record-breaking 871,800 apprentices were working during 2014-15. Great Annual Savings Group, based on Spectrum Business Park in Seaham, County Durham, says moving apprentices up the list of priorities for start-ups could be one of their best investments.

GAS was set up just four years ago, but chief executive and chairman Bradley Groves has been an active supporter of apprenticeships since it first opened its doors, and last year the company joined other regional giants such as Nissan and Nifco in setting up its own scheme.

But GAS is taking things to the next level by inviting its apprentices into the board room to help young colleagues work with senior staff and take part in key decision-making as it continues its soaring growth, with a target to increase staff numbers to 161 by the end of June.

Bradley told BQ: “I think entrepreneurs may be missing a trick by not considering apprentices early enough. Having an energised young team is vital to the way GAS works and we see it as a key part of our growth plans. We trust them and they appreciate that, which helps build the close working relationship we want here.

“So we are inviting our apprentices to join us in the boardroom to experience what it’s like to run a business. We know they will embrace the opportunity and it will be a huge benefit to us and them as their careers progress.

“Our latest talented intake of apprentices already play a vital role in the future of the company and we will be working with them over the next three years to develop their skills and bring out their full potential.”

And the GAS apprentices seem to share their boss’s enthusiasm.

Abbey Bestford, customer experience apprentice, said: “It’s like a step into the real world, dealing with real people and having the opportunity to do something great.”

Michael, finance apprentice, said: “As apprentices we get to grow with the company and place our opinions and our talents in ways that other companies maybe wouldn’t allow for.”

Group HR Director Judith Bennison added: “Apprentices make sound business sense. An injection of fresh talent can bring new perspectives and ideas to a company and this is an essential ingredient for business growth.

“There is some really exciting young talent on our doorstep and our new recruits all have different qualities that they bring to GAS.”

GAS Group was set up to help businesses cut their costs. It has a dedicated team of business solutions managers with a wealth of experience and supplier access to cut bills in anything from energy procurement, energy and water cost management to fire safety, telecoms and insurance.

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