This month Simon Banks talks to James Twigg , Chief Executive Officer and Sharon Garton, HR Manager at TIS.
You recently announced the launch of the TIS Academy. Can you tell me a little more about this?
JT – The academy is critical to our future business growth. Our team is by far our greatest asset, but we need more. We need ambition and desire for personal growth from our staff. We are providing cutting edge solutions into demanding environments and we want to nurture our talent and provide both parties with an opportunity for a very fulfilling future. The opportunity to develop our team of young, talented individuals who have been educated, not only on all systems but also understand our culture and how important they are to the success of the business, is really exciting for us. It is a win-win for the wider company and the apprenticeship team.
SG – At the launch of the Academy there were a total of 15 apprentice engineers, including ten brand new apprentices, two of which joined TIS through the government’s ‘Kick Start Scheme’. The remaining five are existing second-year apprentices. Since the launch, a further four existing employees have joined the fast track course to obtain the level 3 qualification. TIS first-year apprentices will carry out condensed training during their first six weeks in the Academy to ensure they have the basic requirements for when they are out in the field. This will consist of two weeks at the TIS Academy, where they will undergo their induction and cover the culture of the business, before starting their training on health and safety, how to check their equipment, site hazards, safe isolation, installation practices, basic wiring and circuitry, the correct use of test equipment and meters, safe use of tools, first fixing of systems and ECS assessment. The apprentices will then go out into the field to put into practice what they have learnt before coming back into the TIS Academy to continue their learning where they will cover British standards and legislation, installation practices and system technologies.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the recruitment of new talent?
JT – The whole sector is growing, driven by all kinds of factors, which has manifested in the highly competitive recruitment and resourcing market. Engineers are hard to come by but when you add in the complexity of our requirement for them to be multi-system skilled, the pool becomes even smaller. You then add geographical restrictions to our requirements and the simple fact was that we had to do something proactive to manage this recurring strategy challenge.
SG – We already have several CVs on file for next year’s intake of apprentices. We have recently had a work experience student join us from West Notts College. To give him a true experience of the apprenticeship and what TIS had to offer, he joined our first-year apprentices in the Training Academy and also spent time with our Design Team and in the Workshop. The result was that he wanted to be put forward for future apprenticeships at TIS as he enjoyed what he had seen.
How important is new talent to the overall trajectory of the business?
JT – Essential. We are providing highly technical, converged solutions to organisations that want to lead their sector and offer their customers the very best. To back up our highly talented designers, our entire team have to be able to deliver multi-system skills into our ever-growing, ever-demanding customer base.
SG – All our apprentices are employed from day one, providing them with job security at the end of their apprenticeship. The hourly rate for TIS apprentices is above the National Minimum Wage, with a further increase after their probation and rising to the National Living Wage after 12 months. The progress of apprentices is monitored by the Academy Team which includes HR, Technical and our partners at Skills for Security (SfS). Their skills will be continually assessed and a gap analysis carried out at regular intervals to ensure that TIS and SfS provide them with the best possible training and development. At the end of their apprenticeship, there will be numerous opportunities to progress throughout their career with us enhancing their pay along the way. Our Technical Manager started as an apprentice in 2013, which demonstrates the opportunity to progress with the right attitude and skill set.
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