Take Oscar Hall of Specialised Management Services (SMS) Ltd, for example. When Oscar joined the hydraulic and electrical engineering firm based in Great Yarmouth as a 17-year-old Trainee Mechanical Technician in 2019, he saw his future solidly in the workshop. But changes in the workplace during Covid presented Oscar with the opportunity to try his hand at different roles within the business.
“Train to Retain allowed me to go through all different parts of the business from seeing how proposals are put together and how contracts are won, to planning and managing projects,” said Oscar.
“In the project management team I was able to bring my practical knowledge of the product and I realised that I enjoyed working in the office environment.”
Six months on from the close of Train to Retain support, Oscar – now 21 – hasn’t looked back, taking his practical knowledge from the workshop upstairs.
“I’m currently leading a small project and looking to develop my project management skills,” he said.
“I thought I might work in an office role at some point in the future, but the opportunities presented by Train to Retain mean that I’ve really been able to accelerate my career.”
Anthony Whales, Head of Projects at SMS Ltd, said Train to Retain enabled the company to develop existing members of staff during a period of great uncertainty.
“During Covid a lot of businesses were apprehensive to start projects and, like so many other companies, parts of the business hit a lull. Without the Train to Retain scheme many businesses would have potentially stood down or lost valuable members of staff, but instead the scheme gave people the chance to experience different job roles and expand their skillsets, making them more effective and potentially opening up opportunities they may not have previously had.
“Train to Retain has shown SMS the value of giving our new starters valuable exposure to different working environments and helped mitigate the risks to the business during an unprecedented period of time,” added Anthony.
A survey of firms that participated in the T2R scheme found a 95% satisfaction rating for the programme, with the majority of learners saying T2R has augmented their current and future career prospects. Among the different aspects of the scheme, employers were most satisfied with the funding made available by the ECITB, as well as the guidance they received.
Wood Group UK, headquartered in Aberdeen and a large recruiter of apprentices, trainees and graduates, praised T2R for supporting “a variety of development activities across a large number of learners”. At the other end of the British Isles, Epsom-based Kent Energies UK Ltd, an integrated energy services company employing 60 graduates and taking on up to 20 new starters each year, said T2R “made a significant contribution to retention” and “protected the business from what would have otherwise been a sharp fall in revenue and productivity”.