A South Lanarkshire employer who used his own experience of disability to build a socially driven courier company has recruited its first Modern Apprentice.
Bruce Gunn’s life changed in 2008 after an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite on a family holiday lead to a long-term illness. He couldn’t walk and was housebound for three years.
He felt he couldn’t continue with his career as an IT consultant due to chronic pain but wanted to work.
“I had a package delivered one day to my home and realised that this was something that I could do. I could drive, I had a car, a laptop and I wanted to work. I realised that this was a growing market and, after a lot of research and planning, I set up DNDP,” said Bruce.
The East Kilbride-based community interest company’s policy of flexible working has allowed people with disabilities to get sustainable employment. Bruce believes being in work has improved and, in some cases, saved lives – given the huge impact unemployment has on physical and mental well-being.
Since its launch in December 2012, the Nasmyth Avenue company has delivered 20,000 mail items and has a team of community post people who bring vital local knowledge and huge commitment to their jobs.
Bruce explained: “It seemed a natural next step for the business to recruit a Modern Apprentice. I have two people in the administration side who are natural mentors and I wanted to give a young person an opportunity to get started in their career and give my staff the chance to share their knowledge.”
DNDP is one of 12,000 businesses across Scotland that currently employs Modern Apprentices, from small firms to national and international companies. Modern Apprenticeships are delivered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS), on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Each year, over 25,000 people start a Modern Apprenticeship – combining a qualification with on-the-job experience. This lets people work, learn and earn at the same time. SDS contributes towards the costs of their training, through a training provider who works with the business.
There are over 80 Modern Apprenticeship frameworks – from healthcare and financial services to construction and IT. These have been developed by sector skills councils. This means that Modern Apprentices can build valuable work experience from day one and gain an accredited qualification which is recognised by industry.
Employers can find out more about Modern Apprenticeships by calling SDS’s employer helpline on 0800 783 6000 or by visiting www.apprenticeships.scot/take-on-an-ma.
Bruce added: “I meet with our Business and Administration Modern Apprentice each week to see how things are going because I think it is really important to invest in our young people. I believe every company in the country should be recruiting Modern Apprentices to give our young people the skills and experience they need at the very start of their careers.”
He believes recruiting a Modern Apprentice is a “win-win” for employers. “The young person gets to learn new skills, gain experience of working while experienced staff shares their expertise and the business benefits in different ways,” he said.
The next step for DNDP is a Digital Network for Disabled People, where Bruce and his team will be hosting a digital agency and facilitating the talents of disabled people.