Norse Commercial Services looks to the future with graduate trainee programme

Peter Hawes of Norse Commercial Services

Peter Hawes of Norse Commercial Services - Credit: Archant

Facilities and contract management company Norse Commercial Services is continuing to develop a graduate trainee programme designed to support its ethos of promoting from within.

Norse, a member of the EADT/EDP Top100 listing of the 100 largest companies in Suffolk and Norfolk, works in partnership with local authorities around the country, including Suffolk county and Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils,

It recognised in 2012 that its talent pool was becoming depleted as a result of its rapid expansion and the solution adopted was a Graduate Management Trainee programme. However, as human resources director Tricia Fuller says, the initial approach was more tactical than strategic.

“With one exception, where we knew we were going to have a defined job vacancy in four or five years’ time, we did not have specific end roles in view but rather wanted to replenish the talent pool,” she says.

“We wanted graduates who were keen to develop general managerial skills, who were interested in the bigger management picture and who could see that opportunity within Norse.”

The initial structure involved six months of “cultural immersion”, during which graduates moved around the group’s diverse operations, so giving them a flavour of the range of management roles available, after which the plan was to allocate each of them a specific role. In practice, it was found that six months was not long enough them to learn enough about any one area and so the programme was adapted to include a shorter overview period, with graduates then moving more quickly into an operational area to give them a deeper insight into operational management and leadership.

“The programme is intended to lead to a longer-term career starting point within two to three years; a year or so gaining an in-depth understanding of managerial skills that can be transferred across roles, departments and even industry sectors, is a relatively short but invaluable learning and development opportunity,” says Tricia Fuller.

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In this form, the programme has proved a success. Another graduate starting with Norse this month and advertising for an intake of further graduates across the froup is planned for around the middle of next year.

Managing director Peter Hawes says: “We’ve started to build our next generation of business leaders, we’ve acquired a resource that we can tap into for specific needs where necessary even if they’re not fully formed managers yet, and we’ve the confidence that Norse is an attractive career prospect for the sort of young and ambitions graduates we need for our long-term sustainability.”