Skills Made Easy - Elphius Flux
Since it began in 2013, the Skills Made Easy programme has helped more than 1,500 small and medium sized businesses in all parts of the Sheffield City Region, including Chesterfield, to grow and develop their workforces by offering opportunities for training and support.
The skills based programme provides practical and impartial advice when it comes to recruiting apprentices as well as helping to overcome skills shortages by offering access to a wide range of training programmes, usually delivered at no cost to the employer.
Tyler Hopkinson, aged 19 and from Chesterfield, is currently studying for a level four apprenticeship in digital marketing which is benefitting her family’s business.
Her parents, Gwen and Jay Hopkinson, set up Brampton-based business Elphius Flux, in June 2015. Describing themselves as upcyclers of distinction, the company takes salvaged pieces of furniture and reconditions them to create bespoke, artistic pieces of furniture which can be found in people’s homes and in shops and businesses throughout the UK.
Tyler explains: “The course I’m studying is very in depth, you learn everything you need to know about digital marketing: how to market your business on social media, how to get better results on search engines, how to get paid-for advertising online – basically getting your name out there.”
It is proving successful for the business: “Our average post on Facebook has gone from having around 2,000 views to 19,000 to 20,000 views.”
The business is currently riding high with full order books and they are looking to move to larger premises.
She is certain she made the right decision in joining the course: “People tend to think that you do an apprenticeship if you want to work in hospitality or on a building site but there are so many opportunities out there.
“We have one or two workshops each month where we work together in small groups, it’s a great atmosphere.
“I could have gone to university – I had good A Level results, but doing this, you get to earn while you learn.
“Working with my parents made complete sense, there aren’t any cons.”
As well as marketing the company, Tyler also plays a full role in all aspects of the business: “I usually prepare the furniture, strip off paint, sand it down and do finishing work.”
She is proud of how she has put the theory she has learned on the course into practice.
“We had to make a video for the course. A lot of people decided to film an advert or their business but, instead, I decided to run a competition.
“We had a salvaged cabinet which we stripped, took all of the rust off, made a new door, added new handles and hinges and added a butcher’s block on the top made from salvaged wood.
“In the video, we asked people to name the cabinet. We’ve had lots of people engaging with us – with over 100 people entering the competition, people are really starting to get to know who we are.”
Tyler would encourage others to follow her example: “There’s no reason not to do it –studying for an apprenticeship gives you a real advantage, you can always study more at college or university later.”
For more information about the Skills Made Easy Programme running in the Sheffield City Region, visit: www.skillsmadeeasy.org.uk.