NVQ Students given opportunity to flourish with Orchard Apprenticeship scheme
Four young students are benefiting from an opportunity to earn while you learn with North East based IT solutions supplier, Orchard Information Systems Limited.
The company has recently launched an Apprenticeship scheme employing the services of local talent for one year with a view to perhaps providing a longer term job when the scheme concludes.
The four youngsters, aged between 16 and 19 will study for a nationally recognised Apprenticeship and gain NVQ Level 2 whilst at Orchard. Two of them, Liam Alexander and Richard Aydon are looking to further a career in IT whilst studying for the NVQ in ‘Information and Communication Technology’. They will each spend 6 months on Internal Support and 6 months on the Consultancy side of the business.
The other two students, Danielle Christer and Daniel Gilliland are situated within Orchard’s Customer Services department as they both look to gain invaluable work experience in their chosen field of ‘Customer Service’. Danielle is working as a Service Desk Apprentice and is currently undergoing training on all aspects of the Service Desk activities. Daniel is working as a Technical Author Apprentice and is working closely with Orchard’s Technical Author to help with the company’s rebranding project, getting to grips with the products and associated documentation. Alison Davis Orchard’s Operations Director said, “This is not the first time Orchard has embarked on an Apprenticeship scheme. Back in 2005, we embarked on a similar scheme which worked really well and has resulted in one young man, Scott Stanley, gaining a reputation as one of our most respected Support Specialists. Not everyone wants to go down the University route and we feel that we should continue to offer our support to those who have the potential to thrive in our environment.”
Orchard’s Apprenticeship scheme is recognised by The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) which has end to end responsibility for Apprenticeships in England. The NAS has been designed to increase the number of Apprenticeship opportunities and provide a dedicated, responsive service for both employers and learners.
According to NAS, Apprenticeships bring ‘considerable value to organisations, employers, individuals and the economy’. Businesses are now increasingly realising the enormous benefits that Apprenticeships create, not only in terms of a highly skilled workforce but also by boosting productivity and staff retention. Research shows they are an optimal way of training, developing and skilling people for the future, helping businesses secure a supply of people with the skills and qualities they need.
The apprentices were sourced through ITEC North East Limited. ITEC’s Apprenticeships are designed by employers for employers. This provides Orchard with the flexibility to define the criteria of each apprentice’s module for their NVQ whilst at the same time gaining the benefit of their skills. To gain an NVQ each Apprentice needs to show certain skills which are assessed in the workplace.
Orchard's Apprentices can expect a good grounding. The firm holds Investors in People status and over 30 years' experience in technology and customer service. Indeed, as the biggest independent supplier of IT business solutions to the Housing Sector, Newcastle-based Orchard has many reasons to be optimistic with growth forecast for this financial year despite the recession.
The company, which provides housing management, financial management and ICT solutions to the public and social housing sector, exceeded targets by growing 15% last year to reach a turnover of £12.5m. Managing Director Ian Shard is fired up about the firm’s future prospects as new technologies and a recent acquisition, combined with a strong cash positive position enable it to branch out and strengthen its proposition.
“We feel very positive about the market,” said Mr Shard. “Organisations want to make better use of their IT and if you have a strong offering and a strong product, they’ll continue to invest in IT to bring the business efficiencies that are needed and to make savings.”
This year the firm is on target to exceed £13m turnover. “We’re looking for 10% growth,” admits Ian. “It’s going to be challenging but we have a broad portfolio of products and customers with many exciting new solutions for areas that have traditionally been quite labour intensive, which puts us in a strong position.”
With 145 staff, 10 of them being new recruits over the last 12 months, the company is not about to rest on its laurels. In addition to the apprenticeship scheme, Orchard is also looking to start a graduate recruitment scheme in 2012.
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Terms and conditions
Orchard Information Systems Limited
Newcastle Technopole, Kings Manor
Newcastle upon Tyne,
United Kingdom NE1 6PA
T: 0191 203 2500
F: 0191 230 2515
Reg Company No. 1900078