Home Group develops talent for tomorrow

November 8, 2020

A major North East social enterprise has been working in partnership with Gateshead College to create an innovative approach to the development of local talent.


As a not-for-profit organisation, Home Group puts social responsibility high on the agenda, so when they were looking to recruit a new apprentice they were keen to not only get the right candidate but also support the other applicants with their own skills development.

The college developed a bespoke data analyst apprenticeship, which was exactly what the Home Group needed, but then went a step further – designing a bootcamp to support them to find the perfect candidate.

The week-long bootcamp provided an opportunity for each shortlisted candidate to complete workshops and gain recognised qualifications. This process helped the college and Home Group to select candidates for interview and those not chosen still benefitted from being involved in the process by gaining experience and qualifications that strengthened their skillset for future employment opportunities.

For the Home Group apprenticeship, a group of 27 apprentices from across Tyne and Wear joined the weeklong bootcamp, where they completed modules and were assessed in key competencies related to the requirements of the role. Out of the 27 apprentices that completed the course, 19 passed and two candidates were put forward for the position and interviewed by Home Group’s recruitment team. This led to the appointment of Dan Nicholson, 20 who is now settling into his apprenticeship.

Stuart Campbell, employability manager at Home Group, reflects: “The way of work is rapidly changing and although the pandemic has been tough for everyone, it’s made many organisations readdress their approach to employee development and how to ensure their workforce is equipped with the right skills to succeed.

“Community is a big part of our ethos and it’s important to us that whatever we do helps the local communities we serve. When we discussed our recruitment requirements with Gateshead College, we were very impressed with their suggested approach.

“The whole team at the college completely understood our position and what we wanted to achieve. It wasn’t just about hiring an apprentice; it was more about equipping a group of young people with lifelong skills that will enhance their development and chances in the workplace.

“They were very proactive and genuinely wanted to work closely with us to support the organisation and our wider aims.

“Not only did the bespoke approach ensure that we found the right apprentice for the role, but it also gave the other candidates a real opportunity to secure relevant qualifications – equipping them with the confidence and skills they need to secure future job opportunities.”

Phil O’Neil, head of digital technology and business at Gateshead College, says: “Apprenticeships are vital to ensuring talented people are equipped with work- ready skills to succeed in the workplace.

“The workplace is shifting so it’s important that our apprenticeships adapt too, to continue meeting the needs of North East organisations and the communities they serve.

“This innovative approach to the development of young people and their career opportunities is the
way forward, helping businesses with an appropriate recruitment strategy but also ensuring the development of all candidates who get involved in the process.

“Even if they don’t secure a specific apprenticeship with a particular employer, they can walk away from the bootcamp course knowing that they now possess skills and qualifications that they didn’t before, strengthening their future chances of securing a job.”

Dan Nicholson, 20, apprentice data analyst, Home Group

Explain your role at Home Group

I’m an apprentice data analyst within the data development team at Home Group. It involves analysing a high volume of data to create presentable and readable reports for other departments within the organisation to enable them to make informed business decisions.

What’s the best thing about being an apprentice?

Gaining real work experience while learning and studying towards qualifications. I think it’s a much better way of working and I’m getting a really good handle on how a business environment typically operates. It’s great to receive a lot of support too from my colleagues and also my teacher at Gateshead College, who is always in touch to see how I’m doing.

What did you like about the process involved in securing the role you have now?

The bootcamp style approach was so refreshing as it gave me an opportunity to develop my employment skills, even if I hadn’t secured the role I have now, which was highly motivating and rewarding. I also enjoyed how the tasks we were given to test our ability for the job were relevant to Home Group and how the organisation works. It was really interactive and engaging. I definitely developed new skills that I use now in my data analyst role.

How is learning remotely?

I enjoy it because I am very used to independent learning. Before the pandemic, I often learnt remotely, anyway. In my opinion, it plays a big role in the future of learning at school or college and at work too. I started this role remotely and it hasn’t negatively impacted on how I have settled into my job or my studies. I’m able to connect with colleagues and my tutor as and when needed. My day wouldn’t be the same without Microsoft Teams.

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