The client

As Grundon Waste Management approaches its 95th year of trading, the company is on a mission to become an employer of choice – and our apprenticeship offering is helping them achieve this.

Long service isn’t uncommon at Grundon, a family-owned business where lots of employees have been with them for 20-30 years. The presence of long service combined with sustained business growth has meant Grundon now holds a workforce of around 800 employees across five generational groups.

We spoke to Grundon's Mark Gaden, Learning and Development Manager and Addisen Harmby, Learning and Development Coordinator, who’ve been central to the apprenticeship implementation, about their experience with the Grant Thornton and Activate Business School apprenticeships.

The challenge

Grundon approached us in early 2022 with the intention of using their apprenticeship levy fund more effectively. They were particularly keen to explore apprenticeships, which would complement and boost the impact of their existing extensive training and development opportunities. They were also looking for the best return on investment for the business.

“We wanted to know what would give us the best outcomes and where to focus so we could really make an impact for the business. At Grundon, we have a great track record of developing our managers and supervisors in technical skills and competencies, but we identified a great opportunity to develop and enhance the soft skills that will underpin their management and leadership effectiveness. This gave us a clear direction and the breadth of apprenticeships that Grant Thornton offers, in partnership with their provider partners, covered a huge array of what we needed.”

Mark Gaden, Learning and Development Manager, Grundon

The solution

In November 2022, Grundon launched its first cohort on our leadership and management qualification – team leader/supervisor apprenticeship. Co-designed and co-delivered with Activate Business School, this programme is aimed at first-time managers and supervisors.

In just four months, Mark and Addisen described the learners as having a shift in confidence, a willingness and desire to learn, and their productivity is second to none. There have also been cases of improved work-based competencies, such as IT literacy and financial understanding.

The result

The key to Grundon’s implementation success hasn’t only been identifying the right opportunity for apprenticeships in the business, it’s been the internal buy-in from the board of directors, the senior leadership team, and line managers. Initially there were some myths and misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships in the business but these are fast disappearing.

Mark and Addisen have already had numerous requests for additional apprenticeships elsewhere in the business and have already made steps to expand their portfolio, notably in data analytics and coaching.

“Previously, some believed that apprenticeships were aimed at school-leavers and early careers only, and that an apprentice would have to be released during the working day for training. To overcome this, we held group face-to-face sessions to help dispel these myths, so managers could endorse their learners on the programme. This approach was really successful, as we’ve not only seen a shift from the candidates on the apprenticeship, but managers are much more enthusiastic and engaged with apprenticeships too.”

Addisen Harmby, Learning and Development Coordinator, Grundon

Getting started with apprenticeships

Grundon chose our apprenticeship offering for three key reasons:

1 Dedicated account management approach

Apprenticeships offered a new journey for Grundon – having their own dedicated account management meant they knew they would be well supported throughout the process.

2 Value and flexibility of the qualification

Our team leader apprenticeship is flexible with options to gain an additional qualification from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) or to complete the apprenticeship standard only. It means that learners can choose their own pathway.

3 Exceptional experience in apprenticeships

We've been working with organisations ever since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and with Activate Business School prior to that. Our co-designed and co-delivered apprenticeships have supported over 1,200 learners, across nearly 100 organisations, on level 3 and level 5 leadership and management apprenticeship standards.

About our team

Our leadership and management apprenticeships support first time managers all the way through to C-suite executives.

Ruth Walsh

Ruth Walsh

  • Business Consulting Director