Apprenticeship programme boosts skills and staff retention at award finalist EE

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Team lead Nicola Watkins with some of the apprentices at EE’s Customer Services at Merthyr Tydfil.

Claire Litten-Price, operations manager with some of the apprentices at EE’s Customer Services at Merthyr Tydfil.

One of the largest digital communications companies in the UK, which serves more than 30 million customers, is in contention to win a major award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2015.

EE is one of three finalists in the Macro Employer of the Year category at the high profile awards ceremony to be held at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport on Thursday, October 29.

The coveted awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of those who have exceeded expectations, shown a dynamic approach to training and demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation, creativity and commitment to the improvement of skills development for the Welsh economy.

Jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW), the awards are sponsored by Pearson PLC and media partner is Media Wales. The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

EE, which is at the forefront of innovation, employs more than 750 frontline and support staff at its Merthyr Tydfil centre and Apprenticeships form a significant part of its learning and development programme, underpinning its values of “Bold, Clear and Brilliant.”

The first Welsh limited company to achieve Investor in People Gold status, EE was crowned “Best Place to Work” at the 2012 European Contact Centre Awards.

The company established its Apprenticeship programme three years ago and one of the main reasons was to reduce the number of people leaving the organisation in their first year. The company currently employs 251 apprentices.

“We had 57 per cent of our frontline employees leaving in the first year which resulted in a significant training and recruitment cost,” said Nicola Watkins, team lead at EE’s Customer Services at Merthyr Tydfil.

That figure has dropped to 30 per cent since the introduction of the Apprenticeship programme, working in partnership with learning provider, The College, Merthyr Tydfil.

The College and EE formed a partnership specifically to develop a programme to both support business retention and recruit young people from the local area.

“Apprentice teams continue to be the preferred intake instead of past experience. Engagement levels have increased and sickness levels have also reduced, which is worth £300,000 annually,” added Nicola.

EE in the UK plans to have provided 1,300 Apprenticeships by the end of the year.

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James congratulated EE and the other 36 award finalists. “We have some truly exceptional apprentices here in Wales and the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provide a perfect platform for us to celebrate their hard work and achievements,” she said.

“Equally important are the training providers and employers who go the extra mile to support their apprentices. Developing skilled young people is vital for our economy. The Welsh Government is committed to training programmes such as Apprenticeships but investment must be a shared responsibility with the education sector, businesses and individuals.”

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