Apprenticeships Not Just For New Staff Say Darlington Building Society Bosses

01 February 2017

APPRENTICESHIPS are helping staff at Darlington Building Society to become better leaders, thanks to a creative partnership with Northern Skills Group.

A total of 12 staff at the 160-year-old building society are training on leadership and management programmes which aim to give staff the skills to further their careers.

The partnership sees Darlington Building Society use the apprenticeship framework to support its existing workforce, of all ages.

Two groups are already studying towards Diplomas in Leadership and Management at Levels 3 and 4.

Darlington Building Society Learning and Development manager Andy Kane explained: “We’ve never had a ‘formal’ leadership and management development pathway.

“There’s been lots of really great knowledge and experience sharing, but we wanted to be confident we could provide varied opportunities for our people to succeed – whether that is for those new to managerial roles or those who want to develop transferrable skills that will serve them well in non-managerial roles.

“The Leadership and Management qualifications delivered by Northern Skills Group gave us the opportunity to do that.

“Working with an award winning team in our local area is massively important to us and I’d really encourage other businesses to consider the value of apprenticeships.”

Led by apprenticeship experts at Northern Skills Group the building society’s training is fully funded, and offers staff the chance to earn a nationally recognised qualification.

Darlington Building Society considers leadership skills fundamental to its business because having people who are able to develop others, manage and implement change will safeguard the future of the organisation.

Andy worked closely with the Northern Skills Group’s team to create a programme and resources for staff that is unique to the organisation.

He added: “The Northern Skills Group team appreciates that for some of our people it has been a long time since they have been part of a qualification or studied at this level.

"The support they have in place, married with the support we provide internally, is both valuable and reassuring.

“We have aspirations to offer an apprenticeship route in the future, for people beginning their careers with us, however in this instance we are using the Apprenticeship framework to support the people already on their career path with us.”

Jonathan Harwood, a recently promoted IT manager at Darlington Building Society, said the course had given him practical skills to put to use.

He explained: “I take the skills I learn in the workshops and apply them to the day-to-day operations as an IT Manager.

“So far the content has given me a good foundation to look at ways of improving my own capability as a manager. I’m looking forward to expanding upon this knowledge as the course progresses throughout 2017.”

Peter Wilson, Northern Skills Group director, added: “Darlington Building Society wanted a creative and flexible way to invest in their staff, and they’ve found apprenticeships to be an excellent tool.

“It’s great to see workers of all ages picking up new skills through the programme and strengthening the organisation. I’d encourage other businesses to investigate how they could do the same.”

Colin Fyfe, chief executive at Darlington Building Society, added: “I’m delighted that our people have shown the desire to take part in these programmes and over the next 12 to 13 months those taking part and the Society will see leadership skills developing.

“I believe that the single most important ingredient in an organisation is to develop the skills of its people.

“Delivering the Institute of Leadership Management programmes through the partnership with Northern Skills Group provides our people who have the appetite to drive the business forward every opportunity to do so.”

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