Five to follow: Scottish Enterprise employment academies

Recruiting
in an increasingly competitive job market, many employers in Edinburgh are taking
advantage of Scottish Enterprise’s employment academies scheme to help fill
their job vacancies. Andy Moore profiles five academies

Construction
Academy

Working
with the Modern Apprenticeship and New Deal schemes, the Construction Academy
has played a vital part in addressing skills shortages in Edinburgh’s building
industry. Jim Gaffney, head of sustainability of construction firm, Laing
O’Rouke, has made full use of the academy to recruit much needed labour.

“The
academy has helped a great deal in fulfilling our recruitment needs,” he says.
“So far, it has trained 48 people on general construction operative courses,
giving candidates a foot hold to following a career with Laing O’Rouke.” 

Many
of the trainees are recruited through Jobcentre Plus and trained on the
five-week courses by various institutions. A four-week work placement is
designed to give trainees hands-on experience. Once employed, the new recruits
have the opportunity to pursue Scottish Vocational Qualifications and,
eventually, a degree course.

“The
construction industry in Scotland is suffering from a transient workforce, so
it is important workers have the right certification which they can use
throughout their career,” adds Gaffney. “There is a multitude of older workers
in the industry with no certification. The academy is able to retrain these
workers, equipping them with valuable vocational qualifications.”

Retail
Academy

Serving
32 registered employers, the Retail Academy is the second largest personnel
provider under the Employment Academies scheme. In its first year of operation,
the academy supplied employers with more than 50 personnel and has been
promoted to more than 445 businesses in Edinburgh. Trainees are sourced from
intermediaries such as West Edinburgh Action or Moving On, and trained by the
academy itself or further education providers, including Telford College. There
is the option of both short and long-term courses to suit individual training
needs

“We
are able to train and supply staff for very small employers, such as
newsagents, right up to large retailers, including Debenhams,” says Mark
Crawford, the academy’s manager.

As
one of the largest users of academy-sourced staff, Debenhams recruited 15
employees when the scheme started in 2002. Other large employers who have taken
advantage of the initiative include Marks and Spencer, John Lewis and Frasers.
These employers have joined together as private partners and invested in the
academy’s development fund. A unique aspect of the academy is the provision of a
three-day workshop in which trainees are given the opportunity to have
first-hand experience in their chosen career paths.

Tourism
and Hospitality Academy

The
Tourism and Hospitality Academy was set up to provide Edinburgh’s employers
with a wide a range of trained staff from junior to managerial level. A
five-week pre-employment course is run at Telford College and delivers training
for junior posts, while a 36-week module equips trainees with skills tailored
to specific job roles.

The
academy supplies trained personnel, saving HR staff significant amounts of
time, resources and money in recruiting people through advertising and
agencies. David Cochrane, manager of the academy, says: “There is a significant
shortage of trained personnel in Edinburgh’s Tourism and Hospitality sectors.
Employers have a strong demand for bar and waiting staff, along with chefs and
cooks.”

The
academy has been instrumental in tapping into the unemployed labour market and
building up a pool of trained staff from which employers use to their full
advantage.

Funded
by the Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, the academy recruits staff
from a number of intermediaries such as Women onto Work and Jobcentre Plus.

“Once
trained, staff have the flexibility to move into other industry sectors,
including retail, if they decide hospitality and tourism is not suitable for
them,” adds Cochrane.

Cultural
Industries Academy

As
one of the smaller schemes, the Cultural Industries Academy provides the city’s
employers with staff equipped with a SVQ qualification in Cultural Venue
Support. Trained staff are placed with a range of employers, including museums,
galleries, theatres and bookshops.

“The
academy courses give trainees a good grounding in the cultural industries
sector,” says Gillian Staveley, academy manager. “In the past, employers in
this sector have experienced a high turnover of staff due to many applicants
being over-qualified and unsatisfied in their job.”

Training
comprises a six-week induction course at a college, followed by a six-month
work placement with a registered employer. The half-year placement enables the
trainee to obtain the SVQ qualification through a number of staggered modules.
After the placement, the candidate can be offered a vacancy in a range of job
roles – for example, a gallery attendant, box office assistant or a
receptionist. 

“Staff
retention levels have been high with academy-sourced staff,” adds Staveley.
“Virtually all the trainees who have come through the academies in the past two
years are still in the same job.” 

With
27 candidates trained over the past 24 months, the Cultural Industries Academy
aims to recruit a further 18 people this year.

Financial
and IT Services Academy

Launched
in May 2002, the Financial and IT Services Academy is different to the others
in that it supplies staff that are given full vocational training by the
employer. Before candidates are recruited, they attend the academy’s six-week
course that equips them with skills required for an interview.

“The
rapid growth in the finance and IT sectors in Edinburgh has created a demand
for entry-level office juniors,” explains Joanne Nethercoat, the academy’s
manager. “Using the academy, HR personnel have experienced high staff retention
because they can recruit carefully vetted and job-ready employees.”

Financed
through the New Deal Innovation Fund, the academy also acts as a brokerage
service by procuring customised training programmes for employers. The scheme
is also unique because funding is awarded on condition the candidate is offered
a job. Once employed, the individual can pursue on-going training to climb the
career ladder in IT or financial services, or there is the opportunity to move
into other service industries or further training. Employers in the academy
include large organisations such as Xansa, The Royal Bank of Scotland, and
Lloyds TSB.

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