An award-winning children’s day nursery company is competing for a national accolade when it represents Wales in the final of the FSB and Worldpay UK Business Awards in London.
Little Inspirations, which operates from sites in Barry, Llantrisant and Rhydyfelin, is in the running for the national employer award, having already won the award for Wales. The awards’ ceremony takes place at Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
The employer award recognises employers who have seen the benefits that arise from investing in their employees, including attracting, developing and retaining staff.
Little Inspirations, founded in 2003, ticks all those boxes and more thanks to the passion of inspirational founder Jenine Gill who leads her 68 staff by example and has plans to expand the business by adding more nurseries to her portfolio.
She considers Little Inspirations to be a learning institute for those looking to develop a career in the child care sector and demands the highest standards from here staff. The company provides quality childcare services for children aged from six weeks to 11 years of age and currently has more than 30? apprentices, having trained ? in the last six years.
Jenine, who left school with minimum GCSEs and has overcome dyslexia, has created a deep-rooted culture of learning in her business, which holds a Flying Start contract. Her personal learning journey has taken her to a higher apprenticeship in leadership and management level five.
She supports staff to improve their skills and confidence with learning ranging from Foundation (Level 2) to Higher (Level 5) apprenticeships.
Little Inspirations has been recognised for its commitment to work-based learning by being named Wales VQ Employer of the Year and twice being a finalist in the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru.
The company, which has a strong partnership with learning provider Educ8, has a host of success stories of staff progression from the bottom to the top of the business, assisted by flexible support and one-to-one mentoring. Educ8 delivers programmes in Playwork, Children’s Care, Customer Care, Team Leaders and Leadership and Management.
Jenine feels the apprenticeship programme brings the latest ideas to her business and allows staff to reflect on their own personal abilities.
“If staff are enrolled on to the correct apprenticeship, it stretches them but also is achievable,” she said. “Therefore, when staff achieve the qualification at the end there is a sense of pride and we celebrate this as a business.
“The apprenticeship programme allows you to show our staff that we value them as individuals, which is important for staff retention. This has a positive impact in that it allows the company to retain a reputation of continuity and consistency encouraging returning and new customers.
“Apprenticeships contribute to staff retention, internal promotions and an increase in sales and occupancies, meaning that the company has a safe budget to continue its programmes. We see this as a long-term investment with an instant return.”
She revealed that the company has exciting expansion plans and stressed the staff learning and development would continue to be at the heart of the business in the future. She is content to reinvest profit back into the business.
“I am completely humble, as I don’t forget where I have come from. You have to make your business sustainable but at the same time offer services that are affordable to parents. It’s definitely a balancing act but investment in staff is worth every penny.
“When I worked with children, I never got bored of seeing a child’s smile or their first step or working with a child with additional needs and seeing them develop.
“Now, in my current role, I enjoy seeing staff develop. If I can change somebody’s life or change the direction they are taking for the better, there is no greater reward than that.”