The RISE scheme was a breath of fresh air

The RISE scheme was a breath of fresh air

03 June 2016

Company background: Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens (SSK) design, supply and fit high quality kitchens, with sustainability and being ethically responsible particularly important in their work. They are a small, growing Sheffield based company and encourage team members to put forward ideas and suggestions for improvement.

We speak to Rob Cole, Director of SSK and graduates Ollie Leyland from the University of Leeds and Matt Jay from the University of Sheffield on bringing different experiences and skills to the team.

Why did you employ a graduate?

The business was expanding and I needed an extra pair of hands to do CAD work and alleviate pressure on other members of staff. We were getting more and more requests for quotes, so it was really important to expand the design team. I wanted someone with fresh ideas and proper training in the right software.

When my first graduate started taking on more responsibility than I had expected, I went back to RISE. My second graduate started in the same position, but has been assisting the joining team in the workshop, too. Versatility is so important in a small business; no-one is always doing the same thing.

Why did you decide to do it through RISE?

I heard about RISE through Business Sheffield and it was a no brainer. I had little experience of recruitment and it was generally a terrifying prospect! The whole process was incredibly easy, which was reassuring.

How did the RISE process work for you?

Prior to RISE we’d recruited in a fairly ad hoc way and had limited knowledge. The RISE scheme was a breath of fresh air and I learnt lots about recruitment. All the information was there if we needed it, but it wasn’t forced on us if we didn’t. The quality of candidates both times was excellent, which was a testament to the quality of the advertising methods and vetting process.

What roles are your graduates doing?

Olly, our first graduate, joined us as a CAD designer and now has project management responsibilities. He’s capable of dealing with customers, trade suppliers and everyone in between, meaning I can go on holiday without having to wind down the business!

Matt joined SSK just over six months ago and though he mainly has CAD responsibilities, he’s taken an interest in the practical side and often helps out in the workshop when we need an extra pair of hands.

What have your graduates added to the business?

They’ve brought lots of new ideas and enthusiasm, and have given the business a new vibrancy. Their own experiences of other industries add to the team, and we share ideas and challenge how we work. They both care about business and want to make it better, and we’re doing more as a team, which is really important.

Quotes from SSK’s interns

Olly: I graduated in 2005 and worked for seven years as a designer. I moved to Sheffield when my wife started a PhD here and RISE came around at the right time for me. I had been going to interviews for whatever I could find, but RISE was structured and ran very smoothly. Despite having previous work experience I still got a lot out of the scheme. It was a great opportunity to meet people and find out about other businesses in Sheffield.

Matt: RISE gave some structure to the job hunting process. There can be lots of messing about, waiting for responses and dead ends when you’re looking for a job, so it was great to apply through such a professional recruitment scheme that actually did what they said they were going to do. Although my skills made me beeline for the job with Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens, it was nice to see that there was a varied selection of roles available and the link to Sheffield City Council and the two universities was reassuring.