Avrion helps businesses collect, manage, and automate their information.

Established in 2001 in Hertford, UK, the company has implemented more than 300 custom business solutions and has become an advocate for apprenticeship programmes.

We talked to Avrion Project & Planning Manager, Caroline Robertson about her experience managing and mentoring Firebrand apprentices shortly after National Apprenticeship Week 2023. In the words of their Firebrand Account Manager, Derek Brigden, Avrion are an employer "that understands how useful apprenticeships can be; they provide a supportive and progressive working environment for their apprentices and see the real value that apprenticeships can provide to their workforce.” Let’s dive in.

Caroline came to Avrion after a long career with another company, where she had implemented and overseen Apprenticeships. After moving to Avrion, Caroline convinced them to try Apprenticeship programmes too. However, for the needs of this company, she was looking for learners that were, she jokes, “older and wiser.”

Caroline felt that the Level 3 Software Developer Apprenticeships she had contracted previously “didn’t go far enough” exposing the learners to Computer Science. Caroline found the Firebrand programme “more established,” as it has run longer and become more refined with time.

Caroline was looking for candidates who had done their A-Levels and would be familiar enough with Computer Science for her not to have to train them from the ground up. Younger candidates “needed more hand-holding,” which was impractical for the scale and needs of the business.

As a result, Caroline chose Firebrand, and the company has run two apprenticeships to date – Level 4 Software Developer and Level 3 Digital Marketer.

“Running apprenticeships is a cost-effective way to train people from the ground up.

Our business is quite niche;” Firebrand provided formal training, such as best practice, “while we trained them in our way of doing things.”

Running apprenticeship programmes also helped the company give back to the community, which is something they truly care about. “Mentoring someone, introducing them to the working world, challenging them, bringing them out of their shell – apprenticeships are a great way to do this,” Caroline said.

This is very similar to one of Firebrand’s four core values, Care, as our company strives to genuinely care for what we do and act with honesty and integrity.

“I’ve seen apprentices on other programmes being treated like skivvies, given all the jobs no one else wanted. We’ve never treated them like that. 

Apprentices deserve our respect; they are the future.”

In the case of both learners, Caroline helped them develop technical as well as soft skills, getting them to interact with colleagues from various departments and attain a good company fit. Originally a Project Manager for technical projects, Caroline found it easy to combine the pastoral and management sides of her role.

The best part of Firebrand apprenticeships?

“I really liked the structure of our support team – we had an Account Manager, a Learning Mentor, a Success Coach. Also, the in-center training – our Digital Marketer was nervous about this, but she plucked up the courage and went. She said it was one of the best things she’s ever done. Being away, focused on her training, but also hanging out with peers and with the trainer, playing pool…It was like being away at uni; she made lots of friends.

“Firebrand is a big service company – you’re all about the apprentices and the customer and it truly shows. 

Every person I’ve met at Firebrand has been very engaged. Learning Mentors have been fantastic, offering additional support as and when needed, and the Safeguarding team was very flexible, which was much appreciated!

“Derek is our Account Manager. He’s fantastic, he touches base regularly, and is quick to reply with any info. Amanda was lovely too.

“My experience with apprenticeships has cemented in my mind what I want for my own daughter. Unless she’d like to study Law or Medicine, it’s far better to learn on the job. Even if she doesn’t get the job at the end, she still has 15 months of work experience and references.”

We’re always happy to hear our apprentices did well and helped their companies achieve their goals. Thank you for talking to us, Caroline!