4 min read

Top 5 Tips To Avoid Over Working

By Adrian Davison on Jul 30, 2021 3:07:02 PM

Topics: Leadership & Management Accelerating your career Business Development
3 min read

Top 5 Tips in Crisis Management

By Nicola Charlesworth on Jul 9, 2021 11:44:24 AM

What is Crisis Management?

Topics: Leadership & Management Accelerating your career Business Development
3 min read

Why Become Employee Owned?

By Katie Downing-Howitt on Jun 25, 2021 7:30:00 AM

If you’ve seen us mentioned in Business Live, Insider Media and other regional publications, Ascento has now become employee owned and operates for the benefit of the employees of the company, allowing all employees to share in its success and ensure the long term future of the business.  

As it's Employee Ownership Day, we thought it was time to comment on why we made this decision. Outgoing Founder and Managing Director Chris Ash, says “I have been really excited to step aside as the sole owner of the company and cannot wait for the whole team to share in the next exciting stage of our journey. 

Becoming employee owned means we are stronger together, means that we can all share in our successes and the culture will continue to strive through a collective spirit and drive.”

Topics: Apprenticeship Levy Leadership & Management Digital Marketing Accelerating your career
3 min read

Business Development encompassing Consultative Sales

By Adrian Davison on Jun 23, 2021 1:35:45 PM

The importance of Business Development

Business development can be defined as the ideas, initiatives, and actions that helps assist a company in becoming more successful. Enhancing revenues, expanding the firm, increasing profitability through strategic partnerships, and making strategic business decisions are all examples of this.

One of the important parts of Business Development for me is consultative selling. This is something I am really driven by professionally and I love to encompass this into my team’s training.

What is Consultative Selling?

In the classic book SPIN selling by Neil Rackham published in 1988, Rackham explains in detail that in order to win larger consultative negotiations, salespeople must circumvent traditional sales approaches and establish value as trusted advisors.

SPIN Selling is just one sales methodology that enables sales teams to become more customer-centric almost immediately by asking the questions that need to be addressed to establish rapport, credibility and pave the path for a sale.

Important reasons to nurture leads using consultative selling: -

1. Knowing your customer - Consultative selling is no longer about persuading customers, but rather persuading individuals to persuade themselves. It's all about getting to know them and their needs so they can do a good job of adding value. That hasn't changed, but a few other factors have, making consultative selling more relevant today than it every has in the past.

2. Adapting your style and considering the bigger picture – Often being adaptive and understanding a prospect’s problems can open up the conversation. Questions might be “Are you happy with your current supplier?”, “Does this process work for you?” or “How reliable is your Y…..?”

The principles of consultative selling are useful and worth learning. In many circumstances, they can be used in conjunction with many sales techniques. Consultative selling emphasises on asking the correct questions in the correct order, using active listening, and translating the prospect's wants into the features of your product - all of which are principles that correlate well with inbound sales.

3. Implications are key - Determine the severity of the problem once you've identified it. Implication questions highlight the breadth and scope of your prospect's problem, providing you with crucial information for tailoring your message and instilling urgency in the buyer at the same time. Questions might include “Does this ever prevent you from hitting your goals?” or “When was the last time this didn’t work?”

4. Seeing the larger opportunity – Business Development team members highlight possible areas of opportunity at this point. To put it another way, “what is the gap that isn't being filled?” “What is the source of the prospect's lack of satisfaction?” They may not be aware that they have an issue, therefore look for common areas where your solution offers value.

5. Final value questions - You're simply asking questions to uncover the potential of your offering to help them with their core requirements or challenges. These enquiries are concerned with the solution's worth, significance, or utility. You need final value questions to empower the prospect to express the benefits of your product in their own words, which is significantly more persuasive than listening to you do it.

Topics: Leadership & Management Business Development
6 min read

The New Apprenticeship Roadmap

By Helen Abbott on Jun 19, 2021 10:40:36 AM

The Importance of the new Apprenticeship Roadmap

The road to a quality apprenticeship has been released as a new guide. Its goal is to assist employers in comprehending the stages required in providing high-quality, successful apprenticeships in their organisations.

The guide provides employers with links to information and tools at various phases of an apprenticeship journey to assist them in ensuring a quality experience for their apprentices, thereby increasing retention, achievement, and, as a result, the returns that apprentices provide. The guide is a step-by-step guide for employers of all sizes. We can also utilise this to better understand the role of employers in the apprenticeship process.

Similar guides for end-point assessment organisations and trainees will follow the road to an excellent apprenticeship. They highlight the collaborative approach required in delivering apprenticeships, together with the provider guide to delivering high-quality apprenticeships.

What is the Apprenticeship Roadmap? 

Business Needs

Initially it is important to understand the added benefits of having apprenticeships within your business. It is always good to research what is out there and to understand how apprenticeships have benefitted other similar organisations.

Recruiting an apprentice is a cost-effective and efficient strategy to develop talent and a motivated, talented, and qualified workforce.
  • Apprenticeships helped 86 percent of employers build skills that were relevant to their business.
  • Apprenticeships helped 78 percent of firms increase productivity.
  • Apprenticeships assisted 74 percent of firms increase the quality of their product or service.

The Candidate

It is important to reach and recruit from the largest pool of candidates, whilst fully understand the commitment required to have an apprenticeship on board and comprehending any additional support needs.

The government offer support in recruiting from helping you create an apprenticeship service account, to helping you locate an apprenticeship training course and a training provider with the help of find apprenticeship training as well as supporting you recruiting an apprentice to establish your own apprenticeship opportunity. They will also post your apprenticeship position on find an apprenticeship if you make one.

You have control over the recruiting process through out and for more information here.

Funding and Employer Responsibilities

Understanding what funding is available to employers and knowing what are the responsibilities when employing an apprentice is really important to everyone involved.

The government may be able to assist you in paying for apprenticeship training. Whether or not you pay the apprenticeship levy determines the amount you receive. If you have a pay bill of less than £3 million per year, you will need to contribute 5% to the cost of the apprenticeship with the remaining 95% being funded by the government. To find out more, refer to here which covers England and rest of the UK through the links shown.

The Job

Any job within your organisation needs to be fully planned in and supported. You need to ensure that your apprentice can spend at least 20% of their time as off-the-job training.

Your apprentice will receive two sorts of training during their apprenticeship. During your apprentice's usual working hours, a training provider provides "off-the-job" instruction. This programme will teach your apprentice the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to acquire occupational competence as outlined in the apprenticeship standard. 

You, as the employer, will provide ‘on-the-job' training. To help your apprentice accomplish the task you've recruited them for, you'll need to provide training and supervision.

Training and Assessment Provider

You need to find the right training provider that you feel confident in working with. It is critical to select a training provider that is appropriate for your company. You need to consider how well they communicate about the training with you, what other companies have to say about them and what their apprentices have to say about them. 

You will need to negotiate on the price of the apprenticeship with them and ensure that you carry out an initial assessment prior to learning commencement.

Commitment Statement

Employer must sign a commitment statement with their apprentice and training provider before they begin their learning and training. The following items must be included in the commitment statement:

  • the planned content and schedule for training
  • what is expected and offered by the employer, the training provider and the apprentice
  • how to resolve queries or complaints

Mentoring and Training

Two of the main questions that need addressing on this roadmap about Mentoring and Training are:-

  • Have you noted and tracked apprentice development throughout the process to ensure they are on track?
  • Is your apprentice receiving the right career guidance, mentoring and learner support to ensure success?

Mentoring and Training are so important to your organisation and you need to find the right training provider who will preferably work in line with your strategies, priorities and fulfil your main requirements. The best providers will work in partnership with employers to ensure the programmes we deliver to their staff are tailored to meet their requirements. 

End Point Assessment

End-point assessment (EPA) is a test of your apprentice's knowledge, abilities, and behaviours over the course of their apprenticeship, confirming that they are occupationally competent.

Employers in the sector created the assessments, which are carried out by independent agencies known as end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs).

Celebration

Many organisations consider joining the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network. Through their own employees, they show a strong commitment to apprenticeships and/or traineeships. They have a strong profile in their industry or region, and they represent a wide range of occupations.

Moreover, every year the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers are announced and your business can also enter the National Apprenticeship Awards.

Progression

Once the apprenticeship is over, you need to consider what happens next and what merits come from completing their apprenticeship, this might be a promotion, a higher income, or the opportunity to specialise further in their chosen subject to enhance their career further.

Topics: Apprenticeship Levy Leadership & Management Digital Marketing Accelerating your career
4 min read

Getting the most out of Hybrid Working

By Nicola Charlesworth on Jun 16, 2021 11:00:15 AM

According to a new McKinsey survey of 100 executives* from various industries and across different locations, nine out of ten firms will combine remote and on-site working in the post-pandemic future of work. During the epidemic, production and consumer satisfaction have both concurrently increased, according to the report.

In light of this news, Microsoft is working on a new version of Outlook, its email service, in anticipation of the broad adoption of hybrid working, in which people split their time between home and work. A new MS Outlook feature will ensure staff can collaborate across different working environments. Every day, it seems, a major corporation makes a new announcement about its ‘future of work' plan, and experts seem to agree that hybrid is the way to go.

At Ascento, we have embraced remote working and now we’re moving towards hybrid working when required. Many companies and their teams have spent months analysing policies and strategising on how and, more critically, where the workforce might resume some kind of normalcy following the pandemic.

So to help you and our client base, we’ve put together 10 tips on how to make hybrid working work for you, so here goes:-

So to help you and our client base, we’ve put together 10 tips on how to make hybrid working work for you, so here goes:-

  1. One to one sessions - To begin with, schedule one-on-one sessions with your personnel in order to better understand their requirements. While some people benefited from the flexibility of working from home, others might require face-to-face interaction in the workplace.
  2. HR policies - Ensure you communicate clearly with your employees or partners. Communicate your expectations and develop HR policies to clarify how and where your employees could work, and established flexible working hours, all while ensuring that employees were held accountable at specific times.
  3. Technology that serves - Put money into the right technology to ensure employees have more autonomy, whilst bridging the physical and digital worlds so they can work efficiently no matter where they are.
  4. Virtual and the physical - On an office-by-office basis, tailor your policies to the wants and needs of our employees. We now have a full understanding of remote working, virtual gatherings and online meetings. Now is the time to consider flexible practices and solutions that can work for teams and collaboratively within companies moving forward.
  5. Personal development no matter what - Continue to train staff no matter where they work the most ‘hybrid wise’, this is in light of a survey by Lane4 consultancy* suggesting that almost three in 10 employees received no training to support their professional development while working in a hybrid environment.
  6. Treat everyone right - Consciously remember staff who work remotely within your business structures and practises, since the Office for National Statistics suggested employees who worked predominantly from home were less likely to receive bonuses or pay rises.
  7. Flexibility matters - Try to think differently or outside of the box as physical space and remote interactions will continue to play a significant and relevant role in our workplace culture, thus for the time being, a model that gives individuals more flexibility in where they work is likely to be the best option. It is also critical that businesses alter their workplace environment to make it a place where people can collaborate rather than just work for the sake of working.
  8. Cyber proofing - As a matter of urgency, business leaders must examine corporate resilience and cybersecurity initiatives. It is critical that they consult their personnel. According to IBM, 'human mistake' is responsible for 95% of successful cyber-attacks. Ensure this process is consultative to strengthen working relationships with staff, thus meaning less costly mistakes happen in future.
  9. Customers needs and wants - If you work in B2C, try to evolve everything as leaders must think more like customers and assess if current products and services are satisfying changing demands and expectations.
  10. Survey your staff - Ensure that you field the opinions of your staff via employee opinion surveys and digital focus groups to understand how our people are feeling, what matters most to them and what support they may need. This means you are always in touch with how people are feeling and you can work quickly to resolve anything that arises.
Topics: Leadership & Management
4 min read

Being a Mental Health First Aider

By Katie Downing-Howitt on May 12, 2021 1:59:27 PM

According to Personnel Today, the number of employees reporting mental health worries is up 24% since May 2020, research has revealed from Mental Health Awareness Week.

I qualified as a Mental Health First Aider in July 2019 and the course had a profound affect on me. The Mental Health First Aid course is designed to provide employees and managers with the expertise and confidence to recognise symptoms of mental illness in the workplace. It teaches them how to help workers who are struggling with these problems enabling them to seek assistance.

The main outcomes of the course are to ensure you have:-

  • a thorough understanding of mental health and the factors that influence it
  • practical knowledge of the causes and symptoms of a variety of mental illnesses
  • confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress using the mental health first aid action plan
  • enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support - whether through self-help resources, internal support such as EAP, or external sources such as their GP
  • an understanding of how to keep themselves safe while performing their duties
  • a quick reference card for the mental health first aid action plan
Topics: Leadership & Management Mental Health Awareness
3 min read

MY FIRST WEEK AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF ASCENTO

By Adrian Davison on Apr 22, 2021 3:02:00 PM

New Job During a Pandemic

Moving job in normal times can feel pretty stressful and let’s face it, during a pandemic it is a different matter entirely. Initially, I certainly had apprehensions about any move during the pandemic, and I was moving from a company that was great with its employees and I needed to be sure I was going to a similar like-minded company with passion, integrity and quality at its heart.

After initially speaking to Chris the MD at Ascento Learning and Development, I felt inspired by his vision around apprenticeships and how they can enable businesses to elevate their staff like never before seen in the UK. Also, I was impressed by their willingness to change and grow to give their customers the best service in the market.

This is shown in our recent Ofsted visitation results where our leaders were recognised for strengthening their processes by recruiting highly experienced and well-informed experts and I was so proud that the report graded Ascento with “significant progress” acknowledging our leaders and those responsible for governance ensure that staff teach a curriculum to meet learners’ needs whilst incorporating the provision for remote and online learning.

Also, interestingly, the culture is changing too, as of 17th May 2021 we’re moving to an Employee Owned Company model and everyone is excited by the culture of “positively changing lives” that embodies the highest quality methodologies, continuous improvement and high calibre people for us and the way we work with our clients.

Topics: Apprenticeship Levy Leadership & Management Accelerating your career
3 min read

NEW APPRENTICESHIP AND GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR EMPLOYERS

By Oliver Simpson on Apr 9, 2021 4:04:10 PM

'A Plan for Jobs’ Extended

Following on from the recent Government Budget 2021, it was announced that extra money was available for the apprentice cohort from April 2021 onwards on top of the total package of support amounting to £30 billion made last year. As part of the economic response to coronavirus, the government launched ‘A Plan for Jobs’ and subsequently, this has been extended out with further incentives for employers also.

As we have seen in our working lives, the pandemic has accelerated the switch to Digital by 4-6 years as noted by the European Investment Fund (EIF) and remote working “Zoom like” meetings are now the new-norm.

With Digital and Management skill gaps being discussed in many media forums, now is the time to take a look at apprenticeships that are vocationally aligned with industry and their employees, to positively impact job roles and workplaces in the UK.

Topics: Apprenticeship Levy Leadership & Management Digital Marketing Accelerating your career
3 min read

Ofsted REPORT Praises Ascento

By Katie Downing-Howitt on Apr 1, 2021 2:28:53 PM

The hard work of leaders, tutors and staff at Ascento Learning and Development has been recognised within a recent report following on from our recent progress monitoring visit from Ofsted.

Topics: Apprenticeship Levy Leadership & Management Digital Marketing Accelerating your career