A Newcastle-based business management software developer has experienced increasing demand for its bespoke software and web based services taking on four IT apprentices – trebling its workforce to keep pace with growth.
Software developer and co-founder Darren Bailey, 43, who lives in Killingworth and his brother-in-law Andrew Burnett, 48 from Gosforth, set up Compusolve IT Solutions Limited three years ago and have enjoyed healthy growth ever since.
Darren said: “The software we develop for clients is totally bespoke to them and their needs and as a result we have a varied client base ranging from will writing businesses and contract cleaners to manufacturing companies.
“Often with business software applications what the client wants is not necessarily what they need, so I walk them through how their systems can be improved, rather like a management consultancy service. It must be working because we retain our existing clients, providing them with ongoing support and generate new ones which is obviously leading to accelerated growth.
“Sometimes we design, build and install a full business system for customers including invoicing, stock management and data processing enabling them to extract management information that leads to cost savings and other operational efficiencies; basically implementing a full Customer Relationship and Business Management system. On other occasions maybe something as simple as adapting their website to more effectively deal with sales enquiries is what is required.”
The company office is located in Brunswick Village and its first apprentice Danny Sanderson, 20, originally from Cramlington, arrived two years ago as a fresh faced teenager, he was then joined by Adrian Chamberlain who has now been there a year and the two older boys are now helping to mentor the two new apprentices James and Jay who started in September this year.
Darren said: “We have employed all our apprentices through Baltic Training Services who provide a short listing recruitment service and structured support throughout the Level 3 and Level 4 apprenticeships after the apprentice joins the business. They obviously have an internal selection process that works very well as we’ve retained Danny and Adrian and will be looking to do the same with James and Jay.
Darren explains: “As part of their course they are able to undertake webinar instruction at their desk which minimises the disruption for our business. As a business we often provide technical support remotely so Danny has been able to undertake his study and his job from his laptop, a huge saving in time and therefore cost.
“Obviously there is more mentoring at the beginning of the apprenticeship and in the first three months this can be time consuming for you as an employer; but the government provides a grant after the first three months which helps cover the apprentices initial three months’ salary. This combined with Baltic’s rigorous selection and support service means we as a business have been able to grow with the increase in demand for our services.”
Danny, is now undertaking a Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship in IT software – the equivalent to a foundation degree – which started in January and will take 15 months. As a result of being able to work and train remotely from his laptop he has even been able to relocate to Brighton where his brother works in biomedicine.
Danny said: “It had got to the stage where I was travelling down very regularly to be near my brother so I told Darren I would like to relocate to Brighton and he suggested I continue to work remotely from there for his company – obviously I was delighted.
“I can offer remote support to our customer base and have my regular webinar sessions with my Baltic Training tutor from my home PC. I also travel back once a month for meetings with Darren and customers. I’m delighted how things have worked out and can’t believe how much I’ve learned in two short years.”
Adrian is still based in Cramlington and catches the bus to work, he too is delighted how his career is panning out.
He said: “University was not for me I just wanted to get started in the workplace and now I have it’s worked out better than I could’ve ever anticipated.” Adrian has AS Levels and GCSEs but has no regrets about choosing an apprenticeship, “I get to study at my desk and I have an arrangement where I do this for one week between 9.30am and 4.30pm every six weeks or so.
“For the first four days you learn a new technical or customer service skill and then on the fifth day you’re put through your paces with an open book assessment to apply what you have learned.”
Adrian has just successfully completed his Level 3, and is now moving on to his Level 4 in Software Development.
Darren said: “Now because we have effectively trebled the work force Andrew and I have been freed up from a lot of the development side and have been able to focus more on new business and strategy which will only accelerate our growth.”
Scott Urwin senior business development manager at Newton Aycliffe-based Baltic Training Services said: “I’ve been liaising with Compusolve for three years they needed talented apprentices who could learn quickly about software development and customer service and apply the knowledge straight away. I think the fact that Danny and Adrian are doing so well and that the business has taken on two further apprentices as well shows that it is a formula that works.”