Inventorium owners aim higher with apprenticeship

Posted on 19/05/2016

An unconventional furniture company which transforms unloved goods into boutique furniture within its own self-styled inventorium is helping an apprentice to work towards one of the first Higher level apprenticeships created in the Sheffield City Region, after calling on help from Skills Made Easy; a unique scheme designed to help businesses in the Sheffield City Region overcome skills shortages.


Elphius Flux

Chesterfield-based Elphius Flux was launched by Jay and Gwen Hopkinson in 2014 and transform unloved items which are typically scrapped or thrown away into custom built upcycled furniture. As the orders started flooding in, the husband and wife team soon found themselves struggling to meet demand and decided to contact Skills Made Easy for help.

Help proved to be closer than expected, when daughter Tyler expressed an interest in joining the family firm. Tyler was already working towards a level 3 apprenticeship qualification in digital media, equivalent to A Level qualifications. After contacting Skills Made Easy, which provides free and impartial advice to businesses based in the Sheffield City Region, funding was secured to enable Tyler to continue her studies through a higher level apprenticeship.

Higher level apprenticeships give school leavers the chance to work towards a recognised qualification and can offer the chance to progress to a Level 6 degree apprenticeship. Tyler’s level 4 apprenticeship has given her a chance to further develop her digital marketing skills, helping to increase sales and secure new commissions within the business.

Tyler has also been able to follow in the footsteps of her parents, applying her creative skills to transform tractor wheels into dining tables and even helping to create an electric chair, commissioned for a zombie-themed wedding!

The support received from Skills Made Easy has helped Elphius Flux to benefit from Tyler’s newly developed digital marketing expertise and the company is setting its sights on recruiting additional apprentices into the business in the future.

Gwen Hopkinson, founder and director of Elphius Flux, said:

“Little did I know that when I found an old filing cabinet and set about giving it a new lease of life that it was inspire a business! Customer orders soon followed and we even started to attract interest from distributers. I had always planned to invest in apprenticeships as the company grew, but I never thought my daughter would be our first employee!

“Tyler was already working as an apprentice and although she was keen on the idea of joining the family business, I thought as she already had an apprenticeship in place, this wouldn’t be possible.

“I met Skills Made Easy at a networking event and we discussed the idea of a higher level apprenticeship. They agreed to look into Tyler’s case and helped to identify suitable training, which not only built on the skills she had already gained, but enabled her to continue her studies further.

“The process was simple and straightforward. The additional skills Tyler is developing through her higher level qualification isn’t just invaluable to her own career development but also brought a fresh insight to the management of the business.

“Working with Skills Made Easy has helped me to appreciate the value higher level apprentices can bring to a business and in the near future, we’re hoping to recruit more apprentices to our business.”

Laura Hayfield, Programme Manager at Skills Made Easy said:

“Higher level apprenticeship provide opportunities to develop specialist skills and can offer many benefits for both businesses and candidates, with the added advantage of working towards a qualification equivalent to a university degree.

“They help to teach specialist skills which can prove to be invaluable to both individuals and businesses and although perhaps a little less common than other forms of apprenticeships we have seen an increase in the numbers of enquiries we’ve received, particularly from employers like Elphius Flux to help develop specialist skills needed to help the business grown.

““Since 2013, Skills Made Easy has supported over 2000 businesses throughout the Sheffield City Region to recruit apprentices, helping businesses to overcome skills shortages within their existing workforce. Our unique and flexible approach supports both businesses and individuals looking to grow and take their first steps on the career ladder.”

Higher apprenticeships enable apprentices to develop specialist skills or work towards a qualification equivalent to a university degree. In 2015 more than 19,000 students began working towards a higher level apprenticeship in the UK.

Skills Made Easy provides a range of bespoke training and apprenticeship services, including higher apprenticeships, to small and medium businesses throughout the Sheffield City Region. The programme is completely free of charge to businesses in the region and also helps businesses to access Government grants for workforce development and training. 

Click here to view some of the work completed by Elphius Flux