Apprentices key to a skilled workforce, says tech leader

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

The trick to creating a skilled and constantly improving workforce is to work collaboratively with local education centres to bring young apprentices and T level students on board, says the MD of one of the region’s leading tech firms.

Ashley Tizard, of Billingham-based Tascomp, believes that young people who start at base level have the opportunity to increase their capabilities and skill sets, potentially achieving “a job for life”.

“I think personally we have turned the corner when it come to our younger members of staff,“ said Ashley, speaking as part of a recent Talking Business online interview with Tees Business.

Tascomp, whose 50-strong workforce supplies global companies with control and monitoring systems, were finalists in the Tees Tech Awards Company of the Year category.

“Finding talent at a young age appears to be working dividends for us and for the tech sector in general,” said Ashley. “When you look at what’s out there, the tech sector in the Tees Valley is fantastic.

“We really should shout about it, as just the games industry alone is huge on Teesside.”

Encouraging more young talent is something that Tascomp take seriously and they advocate the nurturing of apprentices and graduates, many of whom decide to remain with the company.

“We took on an apprentice five years ago who did exceedingly well,” explained Ashley. “We now support him to do a day release masters degree at university and he is a valued member of staff.

“Another graduate came to us on an industrial placement two years ago. He now has a split role, working in engineering while studying for a masters in social media.”

Taking to Tees Business executive editor Dave Alan, Ashley explained that the collaboration between business and education has been progressing quietly behind the scenes for many years.

“There’s been some serious work going on that is paying dividends now,” he said. “The trick is to continue to work collaboratively and piece things together so we can provide bigger and better solutions, not just in the tech sector but right across the Tees Valley.”

Ashley himself is an honorary Teessider who was born in another great steel town, Sheffield.

“I met my wife at university in Liverpool,” he explained. “The agreement was that whoever got a job first, the other would follow. She’s actually a Teessider herself and got a job here and the rest is history.”

Ashley has come to love his adopted region, and is as proud of the Tees Valley, as he is of his team at Tascomp, many of whom have been with the company for decades.

“It’s a great source of pride that we can take someone on and give them the option of a job for life,” he added. “My senior team have a huge amount of experience and many have 20, 30 years of service.”

Anyone joining Tascomp will have their MD to look to for inspiration. Ashley himself started off as a programmer, climbing the career ladder for many years before securing the top job.

“I’ve done stints in the workshop, got involved in the accounts – you name a role and I’ve probably done it,” he laughed. “I suppose it was the perfect training to be MD, as I’ve gained priceless understanding of how things work.”

Even now, all new starters at Tascomp are encouraged, as part of their onboarding, to go into the workshop – even for a short time.

“There’s no better way to gain experience and empathy and to learn just what the company is about from all aspects,” added Ashley.