Sheffield-based training provider, Whyy? Change, reveals their 10-month journey of the pain they went through when COVID-19 struck – and how they were able to change

This is our year

Having entered 2020 with securing our long-held status on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) we went seeking new opportunities for our apprenticeship and commercial offering. February saw our training centre fill up with our latest intake of new apprentices and we signed our first Skills Bank deal. Business was on the up, and you can probably guess what happened next…

You don’t survive without action

Change is difficult, even for a company with change in the title, but circumstances meant this change couldn’t be avoided. Do we give up? Do we keep moving forward? And how do we keep moving?

In truth, it’s all about the fundamentals. Challenge everything, plan a roadmap, manage the cash-flow, negotiate with everyone, and look after your wellbeing.

CEO Ray Byrne said: “This was a time of lockdown and being able to visit the office, even with all the power turned off, created the space to focus on solving the business problems. This really saved my mental health.”

Surviving, but what now?

It’s late April and we are feeling calm in the storm. The plan is on track, but where to go? Do we stick? Or do we pivot? You do both but first you take a ‘sledge-hammer’ to every resource and ask:

a) Is the current website fit for purpose?
b) How do we increase our revenue?
c) Is the training centre an asset or an anchor?
d) How do we find the talent needed?

All terrific questions, but really, they all follow on from the question of questions. If you believe, are you willing to commit? Well we are, we did and we will.

Whyy? 2.0 is born

It’s July, and we have committed to a new website and invested in a new hybrid classroom setup, where Ray can still partake in his love of whiteboards and Post-it notes – while engaging with the learners via a high-powered webcam and a giant screen through Zoom. Two interns joined us who will be focused on our communication strategy. Investment in making Whyy? HQ COVID-secure was a priority and we welcomed back our learners.

What comes next

We enter September at pace. In July, we couldn’t foresee making the internship position permanent, but when you work with exceptional talent you find a way. Welcome to the team, Matt Trueman. (Read more about Matt’s appointment on page 10). We also concluded the partnership agreement with Bureau Veritas to deliver all their Quality HSE training programme.

That brings us to today. Our story isn’t unique. It isn’t spectacular, but it is real. We look forward to introducing the team and their journey.

By the time this edition of unLTD magazine hits the street, our new website should be live, check it out – We welcome any feedback, so get in touch!

We’ve also been awarded the competitive tender by Skills Bank to deliver Lean6 – Yellow Belt training to businesses in the Sheffield City Region with savings of over £750 per learner.