First Contact – Whitefield, Manchester
First Contact is a family-run IT support provider in Manchester offering a full range of IT and related services to look after all technical problems an organisation of any size may face. Services include tech support/helpdesk, web design, cctv and cabling. As a small, specialist organisation, every team member has to fit well and apprentices have played a big part in the recruitment drive over the years, with many apprentices coming in as 18-19-year-olds and leaving many years later, having played an integral role in the ongoing growth, success and reputation of the business.
Apprentices with NowSkills
First Contact currently has seven employees, two of whom have completed apprenticeships and continue to progress within the company, alongside on government-funded digital apprentice-in-training who plays a hands-on part of its specialist workforce.
The company has also had three previous members of staff who started with them as apprentices and stayed for between 3-15 years, constantly gaining experience and adding value to the team.
The company is a firm believer in the importance of apprentices and the huge benefits of apprenticeships to both businesses and individuals. Director Jeremy Ross says ‘Many young people don’t want to go to university; they want to start a career as soon as possible. Upon completion of an apprenticeship at the age of 21, young people have a big advantage over university leavers as they have two-to-three years of work experience and training under-their-belts, and are probably already in a full-time job. Not only this, but they will have gained valuable general working life experience, developed positive attitudes to work and grown in confidence.
‘We’ve worked with NowSkills for a few years now, and the quality of the individuals presented to us have been outstanding. Not only this, but the candidates are generally interested in everything digital, IT and tech, and have the drive and thirst for learning required by our small but hands-on organisation. Having worked with previous apprenticeship providers and candidates not quite working out, we turned to a specialist digital and IT apprenticeship provider who could listen to and understand our needs but also ensured that the apprentices have the right attitudes and interpersonal skills to integrate successfully into the company to last the duration.
Previous apprenticeship training providers have been lacking in the specialist digital knowledge, skills and qualities required to place successful apprentices at First Contact. One of the main issues with previous partners was the lack of ongoing support and contact, which is key to service-led businesses such as First Contact. First Contact has been impressed by the level of support from the NowSkills team of on-the-ball tutors and says that contact is frequent and of high quality.
The benefits of working with a specialist
NowSkills have been on board with First Contact for the last three-to-four years as their preferred apprenticeship provider. NowSkills’ approach to sourcing and screening potential candidates is second-to-none. First Contact values the manner in which NowSkills assesses potential apprentices, putting them through-their-paces much like a recruitment agency and finding talented candidates who will be a good fit, resulting in many successful apprentices who have gone onto full time employment with First Contact, growing and expanding as people.
Alongside their ongoing NowSkills training and mentoring, apprentices are heavily invested in and nurtured by First Contact, and this, coupled with ongoing practical on the job training across many skills and roles results in successful apprentices who stay with the company as happy, productive employees.
First class digital & IT courses
First Contact’s apprentices are enrolled on infrastructure or digital marketing programmes with NowSkills and depending on the digital apprentice, they receive 1:1 tutoring and live classroom and on-demand resources covering: LANs, WANs, TCP/IP, Windows Servers, hardware, software, M365, Azure, AWS, Virtualisation, Cyber threats, GoogleAds, Email marketing, Competitor research, Content marketing, Social media, Design tools and AI integration.
First Contact currently has several NowSkills apprentices about to complete their courses in digital marketing and infrastructure engineering.
In addition to this, they have a number of people in full time employment in roles who have progressed through the company. One NowSkills apprentice came in as a digital marketer and along the way showed a flair for back end technology. Once he’d completed his digital marketer apprenticeship, he was then trained as an infrastructure engineer and given a full time position as First Contact saw the value in him as an employee.
FirstContact’s longest serving member of staff (15 years) first joined as an apprentice and only leaving in 2021, which shows how successful their apprentices are.
First Contact apprentice facts:
Name & Role:
Ben – Digital Marketer, then a IT engineer and has been with FIrst Contact for 3 years. Originally a NowSkills digital marketing apprentice, Ben completed his apprenticeship and was then employed and trained as an infrastructure engineer being promoted within the businesses as his experience grew and training new apprentice James
Name & Role:
James – Digital Marketer, been with First Contact for 15 months and his day to day duties include: Manages websites, content updating, website design, technical support, back-end support.
First Contact says:
‘We are huge advocates of young people choosing apprenticeships to start their digital & IT career. We are committed to attracting local apprentices with a passion and interest in all things tech/digital and IT as our team members are hands-on, highly skilled people and good all-rounders with many strings to their bows. As a small service business, you have to be knowledgeable in so many areas and you have to be patient and understanding with clients at businesses of all sizes so we are delighted that we are able to seek out young people with the same enthusiasm and ethos of the wider team via our symbiotic relationship with NowSkills. People who stay with us for many years.’
‘First Contact is a prime example of a partner employer who shares our own vision of finding the best digital apprentices to meet their demand for skills and recruitment with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to embark on meaningful rewarding careers. First Contact truly embraces its apprentices and helps nurture them into very successful employees who grow and evolve. Working with a close team in this environment, apprentices really do get a first hand chance to be involved in most aspects of the business and the services it provides from the word go, and this is why the screening and selection process is paramount so that we can present suitable candidates to last the duration. First Contact is a great example of a partner who engages closely with our courses, programmes and support team so that we can grow and nurture the apprentice to be successful and ensure that they are excelling in their roles to benefit of the business.
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