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Bridging the skills gap in young people

The AIM Group showcases alternative routes into the workplace
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The AIM Group showcases alternative routes into the workplace
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Our Waterhouse Business Centre customer, The AIM Group , was founded when a void was left by the folding of a government careers advice initiative. Over the four years since then, The AIM Group has grown from strength to strength, scaling up their Capital Space office in Chelmsford until finally they’re flying the nest. We love supporting our customers, particularly those that are dedicated to helping people, and nothing gives us greater joy than when we are able to help our customers succeed to the point that they outgrow us.

A three-pronged business

The AIM Group is a business that have scaled up rapidly in the five years they have been going. Founded in 2014 as AIM Apprenticeships, the company has recently undergone a full ‘face-value’ rebranding and split into three separate arms, tailored to the distinct services they offer. Esme Hollier, Marketing Executive, explains: “The first part to the business is AIM Apprenticeships. We go into schools and give talks about apprenticeships offered by local authorities and businesses as alternative routes to university for students finishing their GCSEs.

“The next part is AIM Qualifications, which covers our pre-employability courses, so people who aren’t in education, employment or training can improve their skill-set. These are fully funded courses offered by the government, ranging between courses about young people’s mental health and other mental health disorders to team leading and nutrition and health.

“The last part is the AIM Foundation – a charity which was launched in 2018. We work with funding partners and reputable employers to match their corporate social responsibility objectives. For example, we might be doing a diversity and inclusion project or a social mobility project. It’s about bringing an inclusive approach to the workforce. And that’s The AIM Group: It’s about helping people to kick-start and progress their career and not limit opportunities for people.”

Flying the nest

After first moving into Chelmsford’s Waterhouse Business CentreThe AIM Group needed more space as they scaled up AIM Foundation; before long, they were moving into their second unit. They have now finally outgrown their Capital Space business accommodation and are expanding into bigger business accommodation: “We’re due to be moving out this month, but we have found the Capital Space team really accommodating – the centre team who run the site are always willing to help.

“We’ve also really appreciated all the services under one roof. We’ve found the printing services and the meeting rooms really useful; it's really helpful to have those as a growing business and there are so many different sizes of rooms all with great facilities. The kitchen is also great; not all shared office buildings have kitchens so that’s really handy. Also, the parking; there are so few places to park in Chelmsford so that’s definitely a perk.”

Stopping young people from getting left behind

The AIM Group’s rapid growth shouldn’t come as a surprise; many local authorities in Essex have shut their help centres for young people and The AIM Group are working to provide a replacement for the services that have disappeared: “Essex County Council shut their Apprenticeship Hub and local outreach is pretty much non-existent – and that’s pretty common across the country. There’s little being done; people are being left behind and we’re trying to bridge that gap. It’s tough but really valuable because there aren’t many organisations that provide the pathways we do.

“A lot of people have been failed by the education system; many people go for degrees but young people who have different talents aren’t getting the support to see what else is out there for them. There’s a stigma around apprenticeships; people say they’re just level 2 (GCSE level) or they’re physical jobs like bricklaying or hairdressing, but we need to recognise that these are actual skills and require a different type of intelligence. As university fees are so high, we need to be telling people there are other options.”

Business success

Rapid growth could be considered a success for many businesses, but for The AIM Group, it’s more about the people they help: “All the case studies we have from all the different people we help is what we call success. We work with some remarkable people who have faced adversity. For example, we recently worked with a company in a social mobility project where we placed a girl who was homeless. At the time, she had very few job prospects or opportunities, but we were able to link her to people who could offer her support; we did interview screening and offered her travel reimbursement and eventually she got the job. She now lives comfortably in a flat. It’s all about creating equal opportunities for everyone.”

Filling a vacant niche is a great way to build a growing business, particularly when the business model is designed to help people. We’re happy to have supported The AIM Group as best we could throughout their journey and wish them luck in their bright future.

To find out how CapitalSpace virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667