Aerial Business Communications is one of many companies in the Portsmouth area that is benefiting from Apprenticeship training offered by Highbury College.

Highbury provides training solutions for more than 700 companies and last year 95% of those surveyed said they would recommend the college to another business. Apprenticeships are a key part of Highbury's success, with 51 subject frameworks to fit employers' needs.

Aerial Business Communications has recently taken on four apprentices in accounting, sales and IT and telecommunications. Business Development & Technical Sales Manager Dave Stephens manages Hubert Li and Ryan King, two IT and telecommunications apprentices studying with Highbury College. Here is what he has to say:

Why choose an Apprenticeship scheme?

Apprenticeships are a great way for us to get fresh talent into the business and help get them into the world of work.

I think the main benefit to the business is in the attitude of the apprentices. One of the big things we are looking for when we are hiring is the right attitude and willingness to learn.

Why Highbury College?

Highbury is local to us and their offering is very compelling. There are lots of other training providers and agencies out there but Highbury has a direct relationship with its students, so they don't try to fit round pegs in square holes.

The College did the first interviews for us and then they gave us the cream of the crop to choose from. There were some really good candidates that came through the process and we would definitely go back down that route to hire again.

Highbury support you all the way through. They call you, ask how things are going and come in to do the risk assessments and other HR bits. They've made it very easy. Recruiting people can seem like a full time job but Highbury have made it a joy to do. If other recruitment companies could be more like Highbury it would be much better.

What's it like working with apprentices?

I went to university so for me it was four years of learning and then I did a job. The apprenticeship scheme is a lot better in my opinion. What they learn at college is still fresh and they have the chance to put into practice in a working environment straight away.

They have both integrated really well. We are quite a youthful company there is quite a lot of social activity going on - Ryan has only been with us for two weeks and he has already helped our team to win a five-a-side football game!

People are already going to Hubert as an expert and he has only been with us a few months. In the next six months we would like to see Ryan being able to deal with small phones systems by himself and he is definitely on the right track to be able to do that.

From a personal point of view you get a lot of satisfaction knowing that you've helped an apprentice. Someone gave me a chance when I came out of university, so it's nice to be able to do the same for someone else.

There are massive opportunities for progression. All of our sales managers started out as account managers or at entry level and have been promoted up through the business. Hubert and Ryan have come in at an entry level and they are already picking things up quickly, so it's just a case of building that up.

It's great to see the journey of someone who was nervous on their first day and is now taking responsibility for elements of the business. One of the things Hubert has been doing is repairing mobile phones, which, as you can imagine, is a really intricate and difficult thing to do. From an employer's point of view it's great to see other staff approaching him for help and advice.

Would you recommend it?

I would definitely recommend other companies to take on an apprentice with Highbury. Obviously there is a commitment to make but there is a lot of satisfaction in training someone and investing in that person. You get keen people who haven't been shaped by where they may have worked before, who you can mould within the company and who get enjoyment out of their work.