Motor Finance Company Plans Expansion Through Derby College Partnership

A leading motor finance company has teamed up with Derby College to launch an Employer Academy that will support its expansion plans.

First Response Finance, based in Chilwell, Nottingham, is currently recruiting up to 15 A level and Business Studies students from Derby College onto the programme with a view to recruiting some of them onto Degree Apprenticeships after they have finished their course.

During their time at College, the students will benefit from specialist lectures, projects and work experience at various departments within First Response including business development, sales and marketing, finance and IT.  All students will get a guaranteed interview for an apprenticeship at the end of their course.

The launch of the First Response Business and Finance Academy is an extension of the work that the company has done with the College through the Employment and Skills Academy programme – offering students work experience and working with College staff to shape the curriculum for employers’ requirements.

Among the Derby College students who has already secured an apprenticeship with the company as part of the original programme is Ryan Horsnall (18) from Oakwood who achieved A grades in Business Studies, Maths and Chemistry this summer.

He now works at the company and is continuing his studies on a part-time BA (Hons) Management and Leadership degree at Nottingham Trent University, sponsored by First Response.

Ryan said: “The First Response Business and Finance Academy is an amazing opportunity for students at the College.

“I have the best of both worlds – working in a paid job and then gaining a degree and it has made my studies so much easier as I can relate the university work to the work environment.

“I am currently working in a sales support role which I love and at the end of my degree I will see where I want my career to take me with the company.”

Penny Willshire, Apprenticeship Co-ordinator at First Response Finance, continued: “Ryan was one of three apprentices who joined the company this year and we intend to take on even more next year.

“The Employment Skills Academy gave us a platform in order to begin our working partnership with Derby College.

“Working with other employers, the board has worked hard to provide students with the extra skills that are required in the fast-paced jobs market that the students currently face when leaving college.

“Having ran a project over the last year with the business students, it was clear that they students benefited from working on a real project.

“First Response has now taken the opportunity to begin a new venture with Derby College, in the form of a bespoke Employer Academy.

“This is an opportunity to given them an insight into the company, the wealth of career opportunities available here and then recruit apprentices to join us at the end of their course.

“We hope to use it as a feeder into our Degree Apprenticeship programme where we offer candidates a unique opportunity to study for a full honours degree whilst working full time as an Apprentice at First Response Finance.

“This is an opportunity to given them an insight into the company, the wealth of career opportunities available here and then recruit apprentices to join us at the end of their course.

Miss Willshire continued: “ Our philosophy, 'People, Service, Profit', is at the core of everything we do.  We are a people orientated business and we believe that the more we invest in our people, the quality and efficiency of our products and the service that we provide to our customers, the more successful we will be.

“We have grown steadily over the past two years with 273 staff and excellent employee retention.

“The Employer Academy with Derby College will be integral to future growth. We are looking for young, ambitious people with a good work ethic who want to develop their careers with the company.”

Helen Sharp from Nottingham Trent University Business School added: “The BA Honours degree develops outstanding business graduates whose employability and performance in the work place has been enhanced by a unique work-based learning experience.

“The programme is designed to attract high quality students who graduate as confident and experienced staff members with sound business and commercial awareness from studying whilst working full time in their sponsoring organisation.”

Derby College Business Development Director April Hayhurst concluded: “The Employer Academies are an extension of the work that is already embedded into the curriculum.

“We work closely with employers who help us shape the qualifications and programmes that we provide to ensure that our students have the skills and attitudes that make them ready for the world of work.

“There are significant benefits to both employers and students.

“This programme supports companies’ succession planning to address current and future skills shortages.

“Employers are able to really get to know their Academy members with a view to recruiting them onto apprenticeships in the future.

“The input of employers also enhances the students’ learning programme and particularly boosts their employability skills either with these companies, at full time university or working for a range of other business and finance related companies.”

The First Response Business and Finance Academy joins the existing Employer Academy at Derby College programme:

The programme aims to build bridges for young people to make a smooth transition from education to employment.

It also gives employers the opportunity to shape the College curriculum and reduce their costs for recruiting young people into job and apprenticeship roles after their College course.

Other employers already working with the College are:

-           Atlas Building and Groundworks Academy: aimed at providing Construction students at the College with the multi-skills they need for the groundworks industry

-           Cricket Derbyshire Hospitality Academy: focusing on the food and beverage service industry and also provides Catering and Hospitality students at the College with potential for paid part time work

-           Cricket Derbyshire Sports Academy: based at Derbyshire County Cricket Club: providing sports learners with opportunities to work with professional coaches in the elite performance centre of a first class cricket club

-           Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: aimed at broadening young people’s career opportunities in healthcare.  Linking with the super hospital – a major employer in Derby

-           Derby Telegraph Media Sales Academy: giving Business students a unique insight into the demanding world of media sales and marketing

-           epm:technology Advanced Composites Academy: introducing Engineering students to the rapidly expanding advanced composites manufacturing industry through a market leader in the Formula 1 supply chain

-           Hodgkinson Brickwork Academy: working within the growing construction industry with a local building contractor offering opportunities to work on projects such as ‘DIY SOS’

-           Huub Marketing and Product Development Academy: enabling Business students to be involved in Huub Design – a multi award winning and fast growing company designing sportswear for international markets

-           iBox Web and Programme Development Academy: in partnership with iBox Security in Derby which is working with IT students at the College to boost their web security and software development skills

-           MBS Construction Skills Academy: focusing on multi skills in construction providing planned and reactive commercial and domestic maintenance

-           The Finesse Collection Professional Cookery Academy: with Catering and Hospitality students working alongside top chefs at the Cathedral Quarter Hotel, Donington Manor Hotel and at the host of events handled by the company’s outdoor catering division – Finesse Hospitality.

-           risual Microsoft Academy: A Centre of Excellence for digital skills offering Microsoft qualifications and skills for both full time and apprenticeship learners

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