Name: Neill Birchenall
Company: BirchenallHowden Ltd
Position: Managing Director
Company background: BirchenallHowden are an ICT support company providing services to small and medium sized businesses both locally and nationally. The company has seen strong growth since its incorporation in 2006 and now employs 13 staff in Sheffield.
Why do you choose to employ graduates at your company? One of the benefits of running a business in Sheffield is availability of IT graduates. We have established a strong relationship with Sheffield Hallam University over a number of years as they have been proactive in approaching us to take on placement students. Previous experience suggests that graduates come to the job market with excellent life experience and their courses tend to fit well with what we do as a company.
How did you recruit Neal into the business? Neal came to us via word of mouth. We tend to recruit based on the recommendations of the people who already work here and like what they do.
What do you think Neal has added to the business? Neal brought with him a lot of good theoretical knowledge and had done a placement with a large local employer which gave him some relevant practical experience. We saw potential in Neal and have put him through additional training to give him some extra practical technical skills and qualifications.
Would you continue to look to employ graduates? Yes we will definitely look to continue employing graduates in the future, and are doing so right now.
How did the company support Neal to settle in? We’ve always provided our graduates with clear expectations whilst, at the same time, ensuring there is a friendly office environment. We also take the social atmosphere of the office seriously and ensure there are company organised out of work opportunities for new team members to get to know their new colleagues.
Have there been any challenges in employing graduates? The greatest challenge has been in the transition for our graduates from theory to a more practical based application of what they have learned in the classroom. I continue to be surprised by how poorly the majority of university degrees incorporate hands on experience with the technology they teach.
What additional support would you like to attract even more graduates? We would appreciate a more proactive approach from the universities with regards to taking placement students. They have been in touch in the past but as small business owners we need them to help us to find the right student to fit our business and assist with the paperwork.