Based on an interview with Kieran Brady, Group Sales and Marketing Director, Redcentric
Tell us a bit about the background to the scheme?
Over the last 18 months a series of four acquisitions and strong growth has meant there are some exciting opportunities at Redcentric. This has led to the launch of a new apprenticeship scheme in partnership with Leeds Rhinos and Leeds City College.
Kieran Brady, Group Sales, and Marketing Manager said, ‘At Redcentric, we want to bring people into the Redcentric family – and I use that term because a family should nurture and support you, and this is exactly what we’re looking to set up. Our apprenticeship scheme will span over 18 months and will provide our future talent with a winning combination of technical and sales related knowledge and skills, as well as a Level 3 IT Technical Salesperson Apprenticeship qualification.’
How long have you been in partnership with Leeds Rhinos and Leeds City College?
Redcentric have been working jointly with Leeds Rhinos and Leeds City College across the last quarter of 2022 on a ground-breaking scheme to bridge the gap between sports and business. The scheme offers professional and amateur Rugby League athletes inclusive of all genders, disability, and LGBTQ+ a world class training programme with guaranteed employment in the UK IT Services sector with Redcentric.
The initial aim is to offer 50 apprenticeships which will provide individuals the opportunity to transition from the world of sport into business.
The scheme went operational in December 2022. Four Redcentric employees who had been recruited to entry-level positions within the sales team have been the first to come on board with the new apprenticeship scheme and they have started their training. Since then, the first offer of employment has been accepted by a Leeds Rhinos Under 18 Academy Player.
Kieran commented, ‘As we’ve been getting things set up, we’ve got eager members within Redcentric who we’re looking to on-board into our apprenticeship scheme, so they can begin their sales journey and grow within Redcentric.’
You can read more about our apprentices and their first impressions of the apprenticeship scheme on our careers site.
How has the three-way partnership helped you to develop the scheme?
Kieran commented, ‘We’ve been working closely with Leeds City College, Cheryl Macfarlane, Head of Apprenticeships to tailor the IT Technical Salesperson Apprenticeship and create a new standard which meets our business needs. It’s been an extremely valuable collaboration which will help provide opportunities for aspiring young athletes which will allow them to learn, earn and achieve a recognised qualification while working at Redcentric.
Our relationship with Leeds Rhinos has meant we can provide those opportunities and build a bridge between sport and business by helping young people to understand how they can be successful in both areas and ensure that they can gain skills in the workplace which will support them alongside their current sports training and beyond.
We’re very excited to be welcoming our first new apprentices and be giving them the opportunity to train in an exciting and agile industry which can offer them real career progression.
Technology underpins everything we do. It’s an industry which is growing six times as fast as any other sector, so the career pathway which this scheme offers our apprentices in terms of on-the-job training and learning are very real and exciting.
Our apprentices will attend Leeds City College every fortnight to support their Level 3 qualification, have a day with a dedicated mentor and the rest of their time they will have on the job training to harness their learnings – giving them a great balance of education and experience so they can thrive.’‘
How did the Leeds Rhinos partnership come about and what are Redcentric’s long-term plans with the new apprenticeship standard that has been created?
Redcentric has had a relationship with Leeds Rhinos as a corporate partner for some time. In November 2022, Redcentric sponsored an opportunity for school children from the Leeds area to attend a World Cup game for the Women’s England Rugby team versus Brazil. The event was a huge success with 1000 local children attending the event providing them with a unique opportunity to experience Rugby League sport at Headingly. This spear-headed the idea of further collaboration.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Head of Culture, Diversity and Inclusivity, Leeds Rhinos explained, ‘Redcentric’s sponsorship offered children from the Leeds area a unique opportunity which allowed them to leave school in the afternoon and come to see a World Cup Game for the Women’s England Rugby team versus Brazil. The response from the kids from Try number one right up until the very end of the game was incredible. We could all hear from the sheer volume of noise and excitement from the children how special this event was. Kieran helped to facilitate this opportunity for the children by helping us to overcome the usual barriers such as safeguarding children and funding transport. It was an amazing experience for all of us involved.’
It was the idea of building on what we had achieved at this very inclusive event which provided opportunities for Leeds school children, that evolved into a wider conversation. Not every athlete will go onto a full-time professional career and that career can be long or short. The need to train for what comes after rugby, as with any sport, is important.
At the same time, the team recognised that the mindsets and aptitudes you need to be successful in a sales environment are also present in competitive sports. Both arenas have emerging talent, recruited at grass roots level, who have a focus on high performance and the tenacity to overcome obstacles. Both Redcentric and Leeds Rhinos wanted to provide athletes with an opportunity to grow and develop skills in the workplace which would secure the long-term future of young athletes.
This partnership recognises that there are valuable synergies to be gained when you nurture individuals from the world of sport, support them with academic and work-based learning and help them to use that positive attitude and enthusiasm to achieve high performance in both arenas.
We want to offer aspiring young athletes the opportunity to train for a career in IT sales while combining with study and sports training. We know that the mindset and aptitudes that athletes display which drive them to work as a team and to achieve top performance in sport are also those which make a great sales team.
How beneficial are apprenticeships, particularly in the digital/IT sector now?
The digital sector is a high growth area which offers a myriad of opportunities for emerging talent. Apprenticeships in the digital sector support individuals with skills which are in high demand both now and in the future.
What are some of the latest working practises you have adopted, and that are working well for the company as a result of the pandemic?
The pandemic has certainly had a transformative effect on the working practices of many businesses world-wide. The ability to work from home has always been a capability Redcentric has been able to offer through the deployment of the technologies we have in our portfolio. During the pandemic our entire workforce has had considerable experience of using those technologies and actively demonstrated how successfully organisations can adapt and continue to communicate and collaborate effectively by adopting new ways of working. As a result, we have introduced hybrid-working across the company and we now offer greater flexibility for all employees, whilst respecting that to deliver on customer service and support and meet the needs of the business, that element of flexibility may vary across different roles within the company.
What are your plans for 2023, and how many apprentices are you looking to recruit over the next year?
In 2023, the focus will be on ensuring that the learning and training needs of our new apprentices are being met and that they are being fully supported within the workplace environment.
We will also continue to recruit new apprentices to the scheme. To support this, we will be officially launching our apprenticeship scheme during National Apprenticeship Week at an event to be held at the Directors Suite, Leeds Rhinos Stadium, Headingly, Leeds on Tuesday 7th February at 10.30. All parties involved in the partnership will be represented: Gary Hetherington, CEO and Jamie Buchanan, Head of Culture, Diversity and Inclusivity at Leeds Rhinos, Kieran Brady, Group Sales and Marketing, Redcentric and Cheryl Macfarlane, Deputy Head of Apprenticeships, Leeds City College.
Corporate partners of Leeds Rhinos and Redcentric will be invited to learn about how partnerships between sport, education and business can provide valuable on-the-job training and learning opportunities for young athletes and recruit emerging talent to the workplace.
Players across all teams will be invited to learn about this collaborative partnership and hear about the apprenticeship opportunities available with the aim of promoting this across the Leeds area.