Easy ways to recruit and train

Kate Shepherd, left, and Anne White of Cocoa Wonderland
Kate Shepherd, left, and Anne White of Cocoa Wonderland
Have your say

Free candidate search and screening, subsidised wages and free training - a Sheffield chocolate shop is one of the first to benefit from a £72million scheme to get companies hiring.

Kate Shepherd and Anne White, of Cocoa Wonderland on Ecclesall Road, hired 18-year-old Megan Rogerson as a retail apprentice after interviewing five youngsters for the job.

But in many ways the vacancy was ‘created’ by roving recruiter Pippa Proctor, account manager on the £72m Skills Made Easy programme which aims to make it easy to hire new workers or train existing ones.

She visited the shop and talked to Kate and Anne, who revealed they had only employed part-time students.

Pippa identified a recruitment gap she could help with - and the pair were well on their way to their first worker.

Cocoa Wonderland has since benefited from:

Low-cost labour. As an apprentice Megan is paid £2.68 an hour - but the cost to the business is reduced by £1.30-an-hour thanks to a wage subsidy paid by Sheffield Council for up to two years.

Free training - Megan’s 12-month retail apprenticeship NVQ is fully paid by the Government.

Free candidate screening - a Skills Made Easy team in Sheffield Council looked at 20 applicants before selecting eight CVs which became a shortlist of five who were interviewed by Kate and Anne.

Free expertise from Pippa who also ‘signposted’ the company to HR resources provided free by Sheffield Council and further business support from Sheffield Enterprise Programme.

Pippa, who is based at The Source Skills Academy in Sheffield, said: “I love working on this project, I find it very rewarding.

“I remove the barriers to taking on young people and upskilling employees.

“I’m an intermediary, I write up the job spec and training plans and take away the workload on the company.

“It reduces the hassle and keeps bureaucracy to a minimum.”

The assistance has also allowed Kate and Anne to focus on medium and long term plans. They are looking to have Megan trained as a chocolatier, again through Skills Made Easy.