matthew dennison of blue flame gas shares his experience of apprenticeships

After completing a BTEC National Diploma in sports studies, Matthew Dennison was undecided about which direction to take his career.  A chance conversation with a Blue Flame Director, who was pricing a new boiler at his parent’s house, led Matthew to start his career as an Apprentice and he hasn’t looked back since.  Matthew had been considering the university route but had friends who had returned to Cornwall after completing their degree and struggled to get a job.  Having discussed the Apprenticeship route with his parents, Matthew decided he would prefer to earn whilst he learnt so started a five year Apprenticeship with Blue Flame Gas in Penryn.

Matthew travelled to Portsmouth to complete his training before qualifying as a Service Engineer.  Before long he was promoted to a Technician role with leadership responsibility.  Five years ago Blue Flame Gas wanted to expand into the renewable energy market and appointed Matthew as Manager of the new department which now has 10 staff.  Blue Flame Gas has been successful in the renewable energy market and was awarded National heat pump installer of the year in 2012.

Matthew is now Installation Manager and responsible for 26 staff and all Apprentices within the business.  Until recently, Blue Flame Gas had been using Plymouth University to deliver their Heating Apprenticeship training but they have now appointed Cornwall College as their Apprenticeship training provider in this sector.  Matthew’s Apprentices also benefit from on the job training and each has a mentor to help ensure they are fully confident in all aspects of their role before working on their own.

Blue Flame Gas and one of its apprentices, Jodie Sanders, were named as one of the south west’s best employers and apprentices in the regional final of the National Apprenticeship Awards and National Training Awards 2012. Blue Flame Gas were voted best medium employer in the south west at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2013.

The central heating specialist was highly commended in the National Training Awards Medium Employer of the Year category, while Jodie was also highly commended, being only one of three people to make the final shortlist from 1,500 entries, in the Award for Intermediate Apprentice of the Year.

Matthew will be overseeing an Apprenticeship swap programme with the largest air conditioning equipment manufacturer in the world.  They approached Blue Flame Gas because they wanted to learn more about the world of heating and both businesses will benefit from the exchange of knowledge.

Matthew is in no doubt about the effectiveness of the Apprenticeship system and believes blue Flame Gas use it to great effect.  He has continued his own training with an NVQ level 3 in Management at Truro and PenwithCollege and soon hopes to reach level 5.  Apprenticeships have allowed the business to grow and develop staff, which are frequently promoted internally as business needs dictate.  Blue Flame Gas has recently taken on 8 Apprentices and had over 60 applicants for the posts, reflecting the huge demand for quality Apprenticeship roles in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.