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Laying the foundations for a greener future

Beryl CEO Phil Ellis shares what the operator is doing off the streets to support candidates with non-technical backgrounds and up-skill those with additional learning needs.

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Author: Philip Ellis, CEO and Co-Founder, Beryl

As an industry, micromobility is well-known for its contribution towards the decarbonisation of society, offering sustainable alternatives to the cars, vans and taxis that clog up our urban environments on a daily basis.

However, what many don’t see is the work done by companies, such as Beryl, to provide the development and employment opportunities that are essential to the future of a green economy.    

As a B-Corp company, we acknowledge our value should transcend the provision of high quality sustainable shared transport schemes.  

So whether it’s working with apprentices, employment charities, local government-run skills initiatives, providing training opportunities for those with specific needs, or opening up our company to more diverse backgrounds, the work we do in this field is as essential as it is inspirational. 

Building self-esteem, skill sets and CVs 

Beryl works closely with BCP Council on its Supported Internships project, which helps young people aged 19-25 with additional learning needs. The project is aimed at those who have completed formal school and college but who need a final hand in gaining paid employment. It is run and hosted by BCP Council in close partnership with both Discovery, an employment agency which provides job coaches and SWRAC, that provide the education and qualification part.

Over an academic year, the interns complete employment and industry relevant qualifications, but spend 85% of their time on work rotations with companies such as Beryl. They complete three work rotations on the course, supported by job coaches. Their role is to meet with the business teams, induct the interns, and then back away when suitable to allow the interns to fully work within the business areas.

BCP Council Project Leader, Helen Lewis, oversees the scheme and believes the partnership with Beryl has been highly successful. Beryl employees worked closely with Helen and the job coaching team to allow for each intern’s own specific needs and offer as much support as required. 

She said: “Beryl has been extremely supportive. I met with (Beryl BCP Scheme Leader) Martin Jolly initially at the Poole (Beryl depot) site and he couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive of the programme.”

Since that initial meeting, three interns have experienced very successful work rotations at both Beryl sites in Boscombe and Poole. 

Helen added: “Scott was at the Boscombe site, and worked very closely with (Bike Maintenance Technician) Dan Goss and really thrived. Scott’s work ethic, attention to detail and confidence grew immensely. He loved the placement.

“Harry and Tommy are both at the Poole site and have also been fully made to feel part of the team. The interns came with no or very minimal practical work skills and have developed massively. They are taking pride in their work and want to attend each day.

“We now have interns gaining paid employment within BCP – one of whom spent his second rotation with Beryl – so we couldn’t ask for any more.”

Martin Jolly explained how the project had not only provided the young participants with valuable skills and self confidence, it had also benefited his team. 

He said: “Scott who worked here has now been offered a job at the amusement arcade where he was before us. He was an amazing asset to us, helping to fix locks, make up BILS (Beryl intelligent Light System) units and putting together e-scooter rear mudguards with new lights. He was very keen at all times and loved being part of the team and having his own Beryl uniform to wear.”

Engineering – opening doors that were previously locked

As well as upskilling those with educational needs, Beryl also creates employment opportunities for a wide range of backgrounds. We currently work with The Academy – an organisation that specialises in recruiting engineering candidates with a non-technical background who want to move into the industry. 

The Academy focuses on a candidate’s aptitude for a career in engineering, looking at their wider skill sets and potential rather than their personal or educational background. Graduates currently work as software developers or data analysts in over 30 different companies, including Beryl who recently recruited two full time Junior Stack Engineers – Sharon Akaka and India Abbott – via the programme. 

Beryl’s Chief Technology Officer, Sacha Manson-Smith, believes that the programme offers opportunities to people that would have previously been out of reach, adding much needed diversity and equality into the industry. 

“We work with The Academy because recruiting purely from the standard backgrounds, such as Computer Science, Physics or Engineering really closes the window of opportunity to some truly excellent candidates. 

“They specialise in the recruitment of such candidates and provide them with the grounding and base knowledge required to succeed. 

“It has been a great success for Beryl. Our two engineers Sharon and India are both doing really well and are real assets, not just to the tech team but also the wider company.”

Case study: Sharon Akaka

Sharon currently works at Beryl as a Junior Full Stack Engineer, after starting the Academy programme in early 2021. She spent an initial three months undergoing intense software engineering training before spending the remaining 21 months of her training in a full-time software engineering role with Beryl. 

Approaching the end of a history degree, Sharon wanted to pursue a career in engineering after a summer internship piqued her interest in the subject. However, her lack of related university degree or industry experience severely restricted her options. 

She said: “After graduating I was at a crossroads, unsure which path was best for me to fulfil my tech goals. I applied for various graduate schemes and I received many no’s. Most of them said something about how I was a great cultural fit for the firm, but just didn’t have the technical skill they were after.”

Sharon Akaka

Feeling she had exhausted all opportunities, Sharon discovered the Academy programme and successfully applied. It allowed her to acquire the technical skills that she yearned for, as well as newfound resilience and leadership skills.

“The Academy programme is everything that I was looking for and more. It has become very clear to me that it is more than just a technical programme; rather, it is an investment into the individual.

“So far working at Beryl has been amazing and I really can’t imagine a better entry into engineering. Coming in as a junior, there was a significant amount of support I needed to thrive and develop here. My needs have definitely been met and two years in I can confidently say that I have developed a lot over the time, contributing to the app and website in ways that have been useful to our user and our products.”

Growth breeds opportunity 

Beryl’s status as a home-grown organisation, one that assembles its own products and technology in the UK, is what makes the creation of these opportunities possible. 

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis and government pledges to invest in cycling and walking infrastructure mean that shared transportation is becoming a serious option for more and more people.

As a business, Beryl continues to match this industry growth and is set to expand into more major cities across the UK, which will see the creation of further opportunities such as those mentioned. 

However, to enable the industry to maximise its huge potential, we need the government to implement the correct legislative changes and make micromobility an even more simple to use and attractive transport option. 

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