With social value a priority business focus, Bloom Procurement Services, has launched an apprenticeship programme with the appointment of its first three recruits.

17-year-old Thea Heskett-Saddington from Roker, 18-year-old Joey Barron from Durham and 20-year-old Jordon Suttle from Newcastle, will study a CIPS Level 4 Diploma in Procurement and Supply.

The 24-month course via Darlington College, provides the trio with the opportunity to gain a professional qualification as well as on-the-job training and a career within procurement.

Formed in 2012, Bloom is the exclusive operator of the NEPRO³ professional services solution on behalf of NEPO – the North East Procurement Organisation – and encourages companies tendering for projects to demonstrate how they will add social value and support the local objectives of the public sector organisation to whom they are tendering.

Sarah MacNab, head of social value at Bloom Procurement Services, said: “Given that we are asking suppliers within our procurement model to demonstrate how they are driving social value through the contracts they win, it is important that we, as a company, ensure that social value is a thread that runs throughout all our activities. We are committed to the North East, the development of our people and creating high quality employment.

“We are passionate about launching new careers and wanted to create an apprenticeship programme that provides individuals with the opportunity to gain a professional qualification as well as learning a range of skills whilst working alongside our experienced team.

“We are delighted to welcome Thea, Joey and Jordon. They will have hands-on support during their qualification through our in-house mentoring programme.

“By developing our people and upskilling our team, we will provide the best possible service to our customers. We very much look forward to this becoming a rolling annual programme.

“Over the coming months we will be looking to expand the apprenticeship programme throughout the business and in January 2020, two further members of the procurement operations team will start their CIPS Level 4 Diploma in Procurement and Supply.”

Bloom, which currently employs over 65 staff, has recently relocated from Newcastle Quayside, to offices close to the Hilton Hotel, Gateshead. The company provides a full end-to-end marketplace solution for the procurement, contract management and payment of all consultancy and professional services.

From local authorities, housing associations and central government departments to NHS trusts, not-for-profit, emergency services and education, Bloom’s solution supports and assists the entire UK public sector to buy and manage professional services from a choice of regional and national suppliers. It also allows them to move quickly and at the lowest possible cost, whilst achieving better outcomes.

Thea Heskett-Saddington, said: “I decided to apply for the apprenticeship programme at Bloom because I wanted to try something different. I had never heard of procurement but after doing a lot of research and attending the assessment day I was left with a positive impression. The cheerful environment and the team made me feel that Bloom would be a place I would like to work.

“This proved to be right! I am really enjoying being an apprentice at Bloom because I am learning on the job. I get to develop my procurement skills practically, surrounded by experienced people, whilst learning the theory behind the practice at day release in college. It is also invaluable to have Jordan and Joey with me on the journey so that we can share our knowledge and support each other.”

Jordon Suttle said: “Bloom is an exciting place to work. As well as studying one day per week at Darlington College, we will be working through a range of modules. We have a varied work plan which will see us study data integrity, actively engaging with our buyer and supplier community, system training and development and we will also be collaborating with other departments within Bloom to gain an understanding of how they all connect.”

Bloom has been the exclusive operator of the NEPRO solution since its inception in 2012 and has been successful in winning the third iteration of the contract up to 2027. NEPRO³ will open up procurement opportunities for public sector buyers, giving them access to a constantly evolving supply chain, whilst providing efficiency savings, transparency and a compliant route to market.

Opportunities available to suppliers include small to multi-million-pound public sector projects. Bloom is regularly involved in roadshows across the UK, which outlines to local companies how they can join Bloom’s supplier community – and the ease of access this allows to multiple projects from over 360 public sector bodies. To date, Bloom has successfully completed over 4,500 projects, enabling public sector buyers to save an average of 11% to 19% against budget.