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Jigsaw Training news & blog

Training specialist expands management team


L-R Graham Murphy and Nicola Parkinson

Preston-based training provider Jigsaw Training has expanded its senior management team with two new appointments, as its period of growth looks set to continue.

Nicola Parkinson has been appointed as development director, while Graham Murphy joins as the company’s new head of quality.

Nicola, who is based at Jigsaw Training’s Preston headquarters, will be responsible for helping to achieve further growth for the business, working closely with employers, skills bodies and associations to support the sector and prepare for the impact of industry developments and challenges within apprenticeships.

She joins the company from national catering and support services company Compass Group UK and Ireland where she was qualifications and funding manager, and brings over 19 years’ experience in work-based adult education.

Graham, who has 13 years’ experience in the education sector and is also based in Preston, will work to maintain the highest standards of service delivery, helping to streamline internal processes and make sure the company is fully compliant with all the necessary regulations and guidance.

Graham joins Jigsaw from Warrington Collegiate, where he held the position of curriculum manager for sport, leisure and recreation.

James Blackhurst, managing director of Jigsaw Training, said: “This sector is set to experience several periods of uncertainty for example the Apprenticeship Levy, which will come into force in April 2017, but we don’t yet know exactly how it will work in practice.

“Nicola brings the perspective of a large employer with her and knows exactly the kind of support we need to offer clients, while Graham’s extensive experience within education means he has a true insight into the issues affecting the sector.

“Both are extremely passionate about providing support to businesses throughout the training and development process, as well as ensuring we give our learners the best possible experience. By strengthening the team we’re ensuring we’re perfectly equipped to help guide and support employers through times of change.”

Jigsaw Training is a total training solutions company providing the complete package from training needs analysis through to the design, administration, delivery, management and evaluation of all programmes.


Blog: Busting the apprenticeship myths


Although the benefits of apprenticeships are widely known, there are also several misconceptions which may put people off. Here’s the truth behind some of the common myths:

  • ‘You’re better off going to university’

While there is no denying that completing a degree course at university is the right path for some, an apprenticeship can also provide the perfect alternative learning and development opportunity for many. It’s a chance to earn as you learn, without accruing the student debt, and the added bonus is you don’t need any prior qualifications to be accepted onto an apprenticeship course.

  • ‘Apprenticeships don’t lead to employment’

Government statistics suggest otherwise. In fact, after completing an apprenticeship, approximately 90 per cent of people stay in employment, with 71 per cent staying with the same employer. Furthermore, a quarter of former apprentices received a promotion within 12 months, with three quarters taking on more responsibility within their role.

  • ‘Apprentices work for free’

Not the case – the current minimum wage rate for an apprentice aged 16 to 18 is £3.30 per hour, and more depending on the national minimum wage for the age category you fall into, with higher potential earning as you progress. As an apprentice, you’re also entitled to 20 days holiday a year as well as the usual bank holidays.

  • ‘There aren’t many courses to choose from’

 Apprenticeship courses are available in around 1,500 roles across more than 170 industries, from education, media, engineering and healthcare, to leisure, retail, construction and law, a diverse range of options to choose from.

  • ‘Existing employees can’t undertake an apprenticeship’

This is one myth which we can categorically bust, because you can complete an apprenticeship even if you’re already in work. It’s the perfect way to learn new skills, which can also lead to vast benefits for the employer, including a more skilled workforce and opportunity for business growth.

Blog: How can businesses benefit from apprenticeships?


There was no better time for a reminder of the positive impact apprenticeships have than during National Apprenticeship Week.

More than 250,000 workplaces across England currently offer apprenticeship programmes, and the benefits to businesses are vast.

Statistics from a report by the National Apprenticeship Service show 75 per cent of employers say an apprenticeship programme has helped slash recruitment costs, while 89 per cent say apprentices help make their business more productive.

An apprenticeship is a valuable tool to allow employers to identify and respond to existing skills shortages, in turn helping to bridge the skills gap. As a result, efficiencies are improved and growth is enabled, something especially vital for small businesses.

There’s also the added benefit that an apprentice can provide a fresh perspective and be flexible in order to adapt to fit the needs of a business.

If you’re looking for a candidate with a particular skillset but struggling to recruit the right person, taking on an apprentice is an ideal way to nurture new talent and shape them into the right fit for your business, ultimately leading to the development of a well-rounded and committed workforce.

One of the latest sector developments is the introduction of the Trailblazers scheme, which is helping employers take more control of the way apprenticeship programmes are designed, implemented and delivered, therefore increasing overall standards to benefit everyone.

There’s also the announcement of the proposed apprenticeship levy to consider, which will come into force in April 2017, meaning businesses with a wage bill of more than £3m will pay a levy of 0.5 per cent of their payroll to help fund apprenticeships across the UK.

Employers across the country now await further details on how exactly the system will work, but prior planning is crucial. The best thing to do is consult a training provider on what to do next, to ensure you’re equipped with the necessary resources in good time.

James Blackhurst

Managing Director

Jigsaw Training

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