As it’s National Apprenticeship Week, Marie Sandler, HR Director here at DDC Outsourcing Solutions UK (DDC OS) has taken some time to reflect on how the initiative impacts our business…


In the lead up to National Apprenticeship Week, I have attended a number of events related to apprentices and this compelled me to reflect on our apprentices within DDC OS. Their confidence, attitude, outlook and approach to learning has been both impressive and humbling. They can clearly see the benefits an apprenticeship offers; gaining a qualification in the workplace and without debt, the salary they receive and the new opportunities within DDC OS that they have access to.

They are also deeply passionate about changing some of the perceptions of apprenticeships that exist and openly talk about how they overcame this very challenge with their parents, friends and family. Their experiences drive them to work with us to change the views that exist as they have experienced all that an apprenticeship has to offer and they are key in delivering this message to others.

We are currently offering qualifications in Business Administration, Customer Services, with the Institute of Leadership and Management on Team Leading, and Team Management. We have two learners embracing a level 5 qualification in Operational Management. It’s fantastic for us to see that we have a waiting list for qualifications, with 5 or 6 colleagues joining this list each month.

From a DDC OS perspective, we have gained clear business benefits from our apprentices as they bring fresh ideas, new skills, innovation, enthusiasm and diversity to our ways of thinking. By investing in apprenticeships, we have provided new opportunities and also contributed to addressing the skills shortage within the UK. Apprenticeships are definitely not to be discounted when making career choices and when setting the overall talent strategy.

As I reflect on 12 months of the apprenticeship levy, I am concerned that a number of my peers in similar SME organisations have failed to embrace the benefits of the scheme. In April 2017, the levy was introduced requiring all employers who operate within the UK and with a payroll over £3 million a year to contribute 0.5% of their total wage bill to training apprentices. We have utilised the pre and post-levy opportunities available to us to have over 60 learners either on a programme or having completed a qualification within this time frame.

We are honoured to work with Lifetime training as our main Apprenticeship provider. The solid foundation of our partnership is apparent with our dedicated Regional Trainer, Cara Farrow. Cara`s commitment and passion for training and development are ever apparent, and many of our learners have commented on Cara`s energy, and personality being a significant factor in their successful completion of qualifications. Cara brings the material to life and is a part of the ever-expanding DDC family. I caught up with Cara regarding the work she carries out at DDC OS. She goes on to say:

When I reflect on my relationship with DDC OS, the best way I can describe it is ‘like a jigsaw’.

I work with learners to ensure that we collaboratively book their learning sessions around their individual needs but also the business needs and workload.

Lifetime Training has supported me to enable me to grow alongside DDC OS as an organisation. This has allowed me to strengthen my DNA behaviours and incorporate work values into my day to day role. As part of this, my role is to ensure that the relationship between Lifetime Training and DDC OS remains built around trusted relationships and outstanding outcomes for learners.

The continued support I receive from the senior managers and directors at DDC OS is remarkable, they have so much aspiration with essential knowledge and understanding of how supporting their employees to upskill themselves through apprenticeships benefits them in so many ways.

Effective balance is key to the partnership we have adopted and this enables us to build relationships so that both our values are respected. Having a knowledgeable workforce behind the internal training of a placement is what makes apprenticeships work.

DDC OS has more than 30 individuals currently on a programme and the waiting list is forever growing to allow for everyone to have the opportunity to build new skills, knowledge and behaviours. We have also had 30 learners achieve in the last 12 months.

I look forward to the relationship with DDC OS to continue to grow in the future and to see the outstanding outcomes for learners developed and put into practice within their workforce.

Lifetime Training have launched their #Betterbecause initiative for the 2018 National Apprenticeship week and our learners have embraced the programme.