Cloud technology firm UKFast has been honoured with a prestigious Princess Royal Training Award for continuous outstanding dedication to bridging the digital skills gap and encouraging ongoing professional development.
UKFast joins a handful of employers recognised nationally through the Princess Royal Training Awards. The awards require that training, learning and development is integral to the recognised organisation; that the programme is designed and delivered efficiently and effectively; and that the programme has an impact on the success of the organisation and its people.
Aiming to give young people the key abilities to succeed in the tech industry, UKFast runs a successful IT apprenticeship scheme, combining work experience, tech masterclasses and an IT diploma.
UKFast also works with more than 60,000 young people across Greater Manchester, delivering workshops, code clubs and engagement sessions in some of the region’s most underprivileged wards – a project that started more than a decade ago.
Michael Osbaldeston, special adviser at the Princess Royal Training Awards, said: “After the validation visit to UKFast, our Princess Royal Training Awards assessor commented on the ‘genuine pride’ shown by the ‘committed apprentices’. This is unsurprising when you consider how UKFast is accelerating access to the workforce for young people in a field that regularly reports skills shortages.
“The training is interesting, well-structured and impactful – and the apprentices engage across 50 local schools too, taking their aspirational message out to thousands of other young people. They have certainly earned their prestigious Princess Royal Training Award 2018 and are one of just 48 employers to have achieved the standard of excellence required. Congratulations to everyone involved!”
Apprentices are taught communication, professional behaviour and workplace skills, alongside core technical skills, to create well-rounded employees ready for the world of work. UKFast’s apprenticeship scheme has a 100% employment rate for candidates completing the course.
In addition to IT, UKFast also delivers maintenance, networking, software development, events, customer service and marketing apprenticeships.
The apprenticeships are part of UKFast’s wider commitment to continuous professional development; the firm has invested nearly £1m over five years on apprenticeships, in addition to £650 per head and 30 hours training time per examination for employees over the last year.
The announcement follows adjudication of the Princess Royal Training Awards Commission, composed of seven leading figures in the business and learning and development community and HRH the Princess Royal, who is President of the City and Guilds Group.
UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones said: “Current and former apprentices make up 18% of the UKFast workforce and they have a huge impact on our business. We made the decision to take on full-time teachers in 2013 and it’s now critical to our success.
“Many of the apprentices that came through our programme are now running departments and looking after important parts of our network.
“Everyone at UKFast is incredibly proud of this accolade and it only makes us more determined to continue to invest in the training and education of our team.”