Ready for the workplace

A recruitment and training firm has been growing its business and creating opportunities – with help from new apprentices and the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Darlington-based Job Ready is a firm believer in the fresh outlook and energy apprentices and Kickstart employees can bring to a business.

And as it emerges, re-energised, from the pandemic lull, it now has several of its own.

Caitlen Spender, Steph Evans and Spencer McCabe have all joined the company, which is based at the Faverdale Industrial Estate.

Caitlen and Steph, after successful business administration and customer service apprenticeships respectively, have been taken on full-time, although Spencer’s apprenticeship still has a year to go.

And the Kickstart scheme, where the government pays an employee’s wage for 25 hours a week for six months, has also helped bring new blood into the business.

Tom Cairns, who started through Kickstart, now has a permanent full-time contract, while Angus Murray has been helping develop the Job Ready website and social media offering.

It’s a forward-thinking outlook for the firm, which was set up by old Carmel School friends Dominic Vizzard and Elliott McCabe.

And training director Dominic says employing apprentices makes perfect sense for them and other firms.

He said: “We’ve taken on apprentices and invested in them in terms of our time and resources.

“We believe in what we preach in terms of training and bringing new blood and young people into a business and developing them.

“They’re all doing really well, they’re learning every day.”

Specialising in the telecoms, construction, energy, industrial and digital sectors, Job Ready was created to help plug the skills shortage gap within these industries.

It started trading in 2019 but, of course, Covid was just around the corner.

And while it was a tough period, it allowed Dominic and Elliott to forge a plan for future growth.

Elliott said: “Just before Covid we were growing well – we had our best month in February 2020. Then in October 2020, we came back into the office and it’s been very encouraging ever since.

“Month by month, we’re now breaking records in terms of turnover.”

Dominic, 42, oversees the training side of the business while Elliott, 41, specialises in recruitment – and the chemistry works.

Dominic said: “We’re old schoolmates so we can challenge and test each other.

“We’ve built the business through hard work, really. The Covid period was difficult for everyone, but we kept going.

“We’re now a registered training provider with NCFE accreditation. We’re accredited to deliver digital skills and promotion for business, warehousing and logistics and specialised company inductions, but we’re also trying to move into the training market and deliver more courses ourselves, working with our partners.”

But what’s next for Job Ready? It will certainly involve Kickstart and apprentices, with three or four more due to be taken on early next year.

And Dominic and Elliott are both keen to recommend other firms follow suit.

Elliott said: “When I started out, I got an apprenticeship with Bells Stores which stood me in good stead, and that’s stayed with me.

“The whole apprenticeship thing is something we’ve really bought into. We like to empower trainees and apprentices to go and learn the trade – that’s why our guys have been successful.

“It’s also why we’re looking to go out there and bring some new blood in so they can learn from the Caitlens, the Stephs and the Spencers, who have been through it.”

Dominic added: “Our passion is to invest our time, resource, expertise and energy into new recruits, with a view to them ending up in permanent positions at Job Ready.

“We want other businesses to see our model and realise it really works.”