Shropshire digital firm Ascendancy Internet Marketing has been announced as one of the first small businesses in the country to launch degree apprenticeships for employees.
The degree apprenticeships scheme is seen as an ideal situation for staff and clients, with employees able to add to skills they already have while still working for the company.
Ascendancy, based in Shifnal, is one of the first small businesses in the country to take advantage of the programme, partnering with Digital Native in offering the rare opportunity for staff to take three days a month out of work to study towards obtaining a degree in Digital and Technology Solutions (Consultancy).
And they will be expanding their staff team in 2019 with two new apprenticeship roles available.
Government figures for 2017/18 show 10,880 apprenticeships were started at Level 6 and 7, of which 59.1 per cent, or 6,420, were degree apprenticeships.
Martin Stilgoe, of Digital Native, said: “About 95 per cent of those companies involved in the scheme are PLCs or larger employers. For a company the size of Ascendancy, it’s amazing they’re supporting two young people through a three-year degree apprenticeship.
“One of the apprentices has previously completed a Level 3 apprenticeship so Ascendancy will be supporting a local young person from school all the way to degree.
“The vast majority of degree apprenticeships exist in PLCs with only a limited number of SMEs having the confidence to make this commitment. Ascendancy has seen the benefits of using degree apprenticeships to develop and retain local staff in a rural environment.”
Ascendancy founder Helen Culshaw said: “For us, the benefits are immeasurable, our existing recruits have already brought so much to the company.
“The next generation are incredibly tech-savvy having been brought up in the digital era so they already have a great level of knowledge when they start with us, as well as the passion and enthusiasm we demand of all of our staff.
“This additional education is not only expanding their knowledge but will also result in a valued qualification which will be an extremely useful thing to have. The knock-on effect for Ascendancy and our clients can only be positive.
“This course could have been tailor-made for our staff at Ascendancy, it’s core objectives dovetail perfectly with the way we work and what we are trying to achieve.
“That really is the beauty of the programme, staff who already have a good working knowledge can go back to work after a day’s learning and put what they have learnt into practice.”
Ascendancy was launched in 2004, helping firms of all sizes strengthen their business through digital marketing and improved web design by specialising in providing, updating and improving websites, helping businesses become more efficient and profitable.
The two new roles involve planning and delivering integrated digital marketing campaigns to clients which consist of a combination of SEO, pay per click advertising (primarily Google Ads), social media and email marketing.