Case Studies

Freedom’s Apprentice Scheme – Education Sector – West Herts College

Freedom’s Apprentice Scheme. A dynamic partnership put in place, creating an innovative, ambitious and skilled workforce, providing a foundation for excellent career prospects.


About the Partnership

Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has been instrumental in bringing together West Herts College, Watford-based Freedom Communications and Microsoft IT Academy, a dynamic private-public partnership that is transforming learning and employment opportunities in the region. In less than 12 months, the partnership has created an innovative apprenticeship scheme that is actively addressing a growing skills gap for the benefit of local businesses.

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The Challenge

The Hertfordshire LEP brings together key partners from business, academia and the public sector to provide strategic leadership, vision and focus that will accelerate skills and business growth, in-turn developing employment opportunities in the region.

In 2012, Hertfordshire LEP played an instrumental role in bringing together three organisations: Freedom Communications, an IT services specialist, and West Herts College (WHC), a centre of learning excellence, and multinational software corporation Microsoft. This dynamic partnership has put in place an innovative and ambitious apprenticeship scheme to develop a skilled workforce and foundation for excellent career prospects.


Closing the skills gap

Freedom Communications delivers communication and network technologies to over 1,000 companies in the UK. A shift to Unified Communications Technology (UCT) in business is creating increasing demand for voice, IT and business skills and this is only set to increase, with the market estimated to be worth £6.6bn in the UK alone.

This presents a fantastic growth opportunity for Watford-based Freedom, but expert UCT skills are new to the UK market and there is a critical lack of specialists to deliver and support these emerging technologies. Meeting at the Watford Business Growth Forum, Freedom and WCH quickly realised they shared a passion for skills and people development and formed a partnership with Microsoft to support and inspire young people in developing their UCT skills with Skype for Business.


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“New-sector businesses require staff with new skills but this means recruits must have relevant expertise and proven potential. Partnerships with local employers is a powerful way to build courses and apprenticeships focused on the expertise required. Working in partnership with ambitious companies like Freedom is the ideal way for West Herts College to help drive innovation and growth in the region. Higher-level apprenticeships offer a genuine alternative to higher education, keeping local expertise in the local economy and offering careers with great earning potential.”

Duncan Murray, Deputy Principal

West Herts College