Addison Lee , London’s largest minicab company and Barnet and Southgate College both had a ‘eureka moment’ in 2012. Lesley Bowell, Head of Training at the firm has a sizeable recruitment challenge. She needs over a thousand new drivers a year just to keep still but the company breaks the traditional mould of the private hire industry and places a high value on training.
“We value our drivers’ customer service skills as much as their ability to drive safely. So we’re careful about hiring the right people,” explains Lesley. “Working with Barnet and Southgate College, we set out to design a bespoke course that would ensure applicants from the College were work ready in all senses. We look for people who care and who will stay with us.” Lesley was very keen to work with jobseekers to help people from benefits get back on track.
Barnet and Southgate College and its partner Jobcentre Plus (JCP) were confident that working for Addison Lee would be attractive to many jobseekers, not least due to the provision of a branded car to all drivers and the very flexible hours which suit those with parenting responsibilities. But many unemployed people would have found the training and associated costs preventative if the work readiness training and funding had not been available.
What resulted was an exacting combination of training and qualifications. The three elements are the Addison Lee “Knowledge” (similar to the famous black cab “Knowledge”), an NVQ in Customer Service and NVQ in private hire driving. JCP also picked up the bill for each driver’s special licence and ran necessary records checks on Addison’s behalf. The whole process ran for sixteen weeks and involved training by the College and Addison Lee’s in-house training department.
This has been a win-win for the company and its latest recruits with a near 100% employment rate of candidates completing the pre-employment course. Lesley Bowell says: “The communication between Barnet and Southgate College and Addison Lee has been superb. They have been very supportive, and were particularly skilled at pre-selecting suitable candidates for us. It’s been a fair commitment from all involved, not least the candidates, but it’s been worth it. We’ll be running more of these courses in future and I can go home feeling proud that I’ve helped get many people back into a job that will change their fortunes.”
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