The government’s Kickstart Scheme which looks to spur Britain’s economic revival by funding employers to create new job placements for 16 to 24 year olds, was the perfect vehicle for creating jobs for Comtec
The IT solutions provider has worked with the Department for Work and Pensions to hire an untapped tool of fresh talent that can be trained from the ground up. Comtec initially hired 30 new junior starters through the Kickstart Scheme in late 2020 but is looking to up that number to 45, with more hires on the horizon.
“What’s great about the Kickstart Scheme is that it’s geared towards young people who can be trained to fill the skills gap that’s hurting the UK technology industry,” said CEO and Founder Nick Claxson. “So not only are we hiring people who can be trained to our specific business needs, but we’re also arming them with transferable skills that they can take with them as and when they move on to new roles.”
Following a successful 2020, Comtec has added significant upgrades to its network infrastructure, enhancing bandwidth provision at its primary Comtec House data centre and adding two new data suites, in order to cope with increased customer demand for managed IT services. “This growth period has allowed us to take on more and more staff in a range of varied roles,” continued Claxson. “This wouldn’t be the case for a static organisation, but our ongoing expansion has meant we have had to improve our capacity and capabilities and therefore have an ongoing need for new talent we can train up to help us deliver on that.
To ensure junior hires were supported at every stage of their journey, Comtec introduced a company-wide training program – The Comtec Training Academy – and a full-time wellbeing officer.
The Comtec Training Academy is a five-stage training programme that sees Comtec’s own experienced engineers train new and existing employees to become efficient engineers in three o six months, regardless of their core role. Trainees receive a personalised training plan including video training, one-to-one mentoring, and practice test training to ensure they are best equipped for certification tests. Key books, online resources and any other learning materials are also provided.
“This is a great initiative for the whole business and not just the kickstarters,” Claxson explained. “Coming out of the academy, trainees of all ages and experience will have industry-recognised qualifications, deep product and vendor knowledge, and most importantly a wide open career path ahead of them. For our customers, this means all Comtec employees – whether they joined one month ago or ten years ago – have a base level understanding of core technology and vendor fundamentals and can provide a consistent service to our clients.”
Comtec’s wellbeing officer works with the Kickstart hires to ensure that they are happy and fulfilled by their career progression, and that they are receiving support in a way that is most helpful to them.
“Many of our kickstarters have left education, not been able to secure the job they wanted – through no fault of their own – and have seen their confidence take a hit as a result,” Claxson said. “We want to help them build that confidence back up by standing by them, supporting them through their anxieties, and showing them that they have what it takes to have a lasting, fulfilling career in technology.”
The introduction of the Comtec Training Academy has also allowed Claxson and his team to identify the best possible way each young hire learns, and adapt the training accordingly. “One of our hires has gone from job to job, unable to make anything last,” he said, adding: “We noticed early on in his training that he doesn’t respond to written instructions in books and papers, but in fact is a brilliant visual learner. Now we’re adapting our teaching to his need, and I’m proud to say that, by learning in his own way, he’s now receiving the same qualifications as his peers.”
Comtec is now actively working with the DWP to encourage others to reap the benefits of this win-win scheme. For employees, this means publicising the success Comtec has had and encouraging other leaders to follow in its footsteps. For potential young hires, Comtec and the DWP are working to demystify any doubts or reservations in young peoples’ minds.
“A lot of young peoples’ only experience of technology is IT class in school, which has made them believe a career in tech is uninteresting or unachievable. We’re working hard to show them that isn’t the case that it’s not scary and they do have support. Ultimately, the message we’re communicating to them is that if they are committed to learning and are self-motivated, they can achieve,” Claxson concluded.