Craggs Energy was established in 2011 with a vision to transform the fuel distribution industry. Originating with just one depot in West Yorkshire, it set out to challenge an industry rooted in tradition, which fails to provide innovative service and meet ever-changing customer requests.

Named as a 2015 Sunday Times ‘Ones to Watch’ company, Craggs Energy has grown into a UK-wide business, with £32 million of turnover. The company continually seeks development opportunities on all fronts, notably talent management. At the very heart of the business is its staff, with 12 of Craggs’ 15 BESMA-winning sales staff working towards a tailored NVQ.

The goal

Tasked with a five-year plan to grow the business fivefold, having fresh talent to feed into this growth was deemed vital. After reviewing the recruitment strategy, it was decided that hiring young newcomers in an industry stereotypically known for its older demographic would set a fresh pair of eyes on the business, encouraging alternative thinking.

As a result, the Craggs Sales Apprenticeship Academy was launched in August 2015 in tandem with The Skills Company.

When the company’s aspiring apprentices embarked on their 12-month journey to become the finest industry sales experts, a fully-equipped bespoke sales environment was created, ideal for a full time CIPD academy leader to provide support for in-house and NVQ development.

“Unlike other apprenticeships, we designed the academy so that learners can gain a holistic view of the business by spending time in each department, from a day in a tanker to sitting in a meeting with the CEO,” said Becky Neville, Programme Manager at Craggs.

Training and development

An integral focus of the programme is the development of interpersonal skills, communication and confidence. All this is an integral part of the hands-on training provided by the Skills Company. Each apprentice has received multiple direct observations, where the assessor is able to help them develop their skills above and beyond the Apprenticeship framework criteria.

“The Skills Company have also been very helpful in developing appropriate, professional workplace behaviours in our apprentices,” said Becky.

“They provided additional learning support in the form of e-learning - designing six online sales courses for the apprentices to access, allowing them to learn as and when they wanted.

“It included quizzes with grades and they actively competed with each other in a friendly way to see who could get the best score on each quiz. The quizzes linked to their six exams and all apprentices passed all exams on the first attempt - most of them scoring exceptionally high scores.”

The Skills Company also put two senior team members from Craggs through the assessor and IQA qualifications, enabling the company to use home-grown talent to improve its Apprenticeship Academy and facilitating a move towards increased management of the assessment process.

“The apprentices have undoubtedly contributed to the business, not only on a monetary but personal level. They have injected a boost of energy and creative thinking into our sales force, who are being kept on their toes by these newcomers, who are challenging the way we sell and expanding the boundaries by which we operate,” said Becky.

“As employers, we recognise that Apprenticeships are essential to future growth and we are discussing 5 Apprenticeship schemes for 2016/17 in sales, marketing, customer experience, admin and operations. Each of these schemes will have proposed pathways into leadership to enable our apprentices to excel in their careers.”