Successful Cheshire business strengthens links with university

“Working with Staffs is incredibly important because we want to recruit people from the local area, train them and then retain those skilled workers in the region.”

Darren Birt, Operations Director at FHL Cloud Solutions

A successful cloud computing business is tapping into talent from Staffordshire University to support its rapid growth.

13 students are currently undertaking internships with FHL Cloud Solutions and the Cheshire-based consultancy is planning to take on more placement students this year.

The company, which provides NetSuite software services to clients internationally, was set up by Staffordshire University graduate Darren Birt and business partner Andrew Peddie in 2007.

Darren explained: “It's been a really successful recruitment method for us. I think the quality of the undergraduates and graduates is very good and has continued to get better every year.”

Placement students come from a variety of Computing, Computer Games and Business courses and work across different areas of the company. They are given the opportunity to work directly with clients and join site visits to partners across the globe.

Louise Sharratt (pictured), 22 from Stone, studies BSc (Hons) Web Development and hopes her 12 month placement will lead to a permanent job after she graduates.

"FHL is a growing company and I wanted to be a part of that. Being able to see what the industry is like has helped me decide where I want to go and I know that I'm on the right path.”

She added: “When I started my confidence was quite low but as I've gone on, I have developed my skill level and my confidence has really grown.”

Toby Wild, 22 from Talke, studies BSc (Hons) Computer Science and won 'Undergraduate of the Year' at FHL's annual employee awards.

He said: “This placement has allowed me to apply the skills that I have learned on my degree course. There's a lot of support available whether it's going and talking to someone or making the most of the internal resources. It's a nice place to be!”

FHL has developed a strong relationship with Staffordshire University over the past eight years, providing placement opportunities for students and supporting the University's student exhibition GradEX and careers festival FutureFest.

Many placements lead to permanent job roles and FHL also offers graduate employment opportunities through on campus recruitment service Unitemps. As a result, Staffordshire University alumni now make up approximately half of the business's 55-strong workforce. Darren said: “The beauty of bringing people in from Staffs means that we take students with the latest technology skills and can marry that with the necessary business skills.”

FHL was recently acquired by global firm RSM and is looking to grow its workforce by 30% year on year. To help achieve this, the company is keen to strengthen its partnership with Staffordshire University further by developing higher and degree apprenticeships.

This follows the announcement of a £17m project launched by the University to drive up the number of skilled apprentices in the region.

“Working with Staffs is incredibly important because we want to recruit people from the local area, train them and then retain those skilled workers in the region.”

Darren added: "We are in a huge, growing sector and FHL is right at the forefront of it so there is a massive career opportunity for students, graduates and apprentices who join us."


Amy Platts
Multimedia Press Officer
Marketing and Public Relations
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