Leadership and Management Training

Saddles and Paddles make the most of leadership and management training available through Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service

Saddles & Paddles (S&P) has been on Exeter Quay for around 25 years and over this time have built up a strong reputation as the place to go for bike hire or canoe hire. S&P are well known for their high levels of customer service and the business is extremely popular with both tourists and local residents. Their position directly on both the canal and the traffic free Exe Estuary Trail cycle route, makes them ideally located for the hire of bikes and boats.

S&P provide an eclectic range of top brand bikes and specialise in family cycling. Their range of hire equipment for children, which includes child seats and trailers, allows the whole family to cycle together. The ability to be able to ‘test ride’ cycling as a family on wide, traffic free cycle paths is vital when building up confidence.

S&P have a female owner, Heather Baker, who took over the shop in a bold career move from the public sector – having spent 10 years previously working for Local Authorities in Devon on transport and tourism projects. Within this time, Heather spent 6 years as a lead officer on a national project to develop Exeter as a “Cycling Demonstration Town”, resulting in an excellent knowledge of the profile of cycling in the city. Heather loves cycling, whether it’s tackling tough climbs on her road bike, thrashing around trails on her hard tail mountain bike or cruising along the Exe Estuary Trail on a basket bike.

Education and Training Skills (ETS) contacted S&P to talk about the opportunities to access fully funded training for the business through Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service.

Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service provides fully funded training and support to equip business in Devon and Somerset with the skills they need to grow. The service can provide businesses with recognised accredited qualifications and bespoke training courses for their employees and business support to enable them to take advantage of Apprenticeship opportunities that work for their business. Education and Training Skills (ETS) is part of Serco’s network of expert organisations chosen to deliver the programme in partnership with Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  Heart of the South West Apprenticeship Service is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Following initial contact from ETS, a series of meetings took place between Simon Mills, ETS General Manager and Heather Baker, to discuss tailored training solutions to meet S&P’ business needs.  Heather quickly identified that the SSW Project could help her to develop the leadership and management knowledge and skills of her young vibrant leadership team, through vocational based training solutions.  Heather is very keen to support her staff development and has seen this as an integral part in growing her business.  Following detailed discussions with Simon about the most suitable training for each team member, it was decided that one manager would be best suited to start on an Apprenticeship immediately with the potential for this to be enhanced with additional administration units at a later stage, and another would be best supported by undertaking Level 2 Management units, before progressing to an Apprenticeship at a later stage. Vocational training means that it all takes place on the job with ETS training assessors making regular visits to S&P to facilitate learning until the qualification is achieved.

Heather said of her team “The staff all ride bikes and several of our staff are qualified paddle-sports instructors, so that we can help customers with both pedalling and your paddling!  They will always take the time with each customer to fully understand the customer’s needs to help find the right bike for them.”