01 June 2024

Tracy Jerram MCIPP, commercial director, Cox & Co, discusses the organisation’s strategy in training individuals with no prior industry experience through payroll apprenticeships

Four years ago, we made a bold decision at Cox & Co. We stopped recruiting experienced payroll professionals. It was a decision which could have been risky, but fortunately, we had the Level 3 Payroll Apprenticeship pathway in our armoury.

As any payroll bureau leader will attest, finding the right talent for your team is a challenge. The breadth and depth of payroll knowledge and experience vary widely, making it difficult to pinpoint the skills needed for success. A decade of experience could mean anything from basic data entry to overseeing complex payroll operations.

We found hiring was very challenging and the market experience and payroll knowledge at the time wasn’t meeting our bureau’s needs. That’s when we made the decision to ‘raise our own’, a strategy borrowed from the football industry.

For the past four years, we’ve made full use of the payroll apprenticeship pathway to fill our talent pool with the most outstanding individuals.

In 2019, we started recruiting school and college leavers into the business (one per year) and guiding them through the payroll apprenticeship pathway. With exceptional mentoring, meaningful roles and involvement in diverse projects, our apprentices have gained both invaluable payroll experience and in-depth technical skills.

Each apprentice embarks on an 18-month journey fully supported by our payroll programme. We unite the apprentice, employer and apprenticeship training provider to guide each individual through their developmental path.

Throughout this journey, apprentices master end-to-end payroll processes and gain exposure to diverse industry sectors, including public sector payroll, which broadens their expertise.

Opportunities to network on a nationwide basis arise immediately, fostering a safe and supportive environment for knowledge and experience expansion.

We ensure each apprentice’s unique talents are acknowledged and cultivated. By leveraging their interests, such as video production or design, we empower them to excel in their roles. Our apprentices consistently surpass their own expectations, achieving remarkable growth and earning recognition at both national and global levels. Their accomplishments are celebrated through accolades, awards, interviews, magazine features and podcast appearances.

Interestingly, the apprenticeship scheme has also enabled us to diversify the team’s skills beyond payroll. With five out of our eight team members currently on apprenticeships, we’ve expanded into roles like data analyst and business analyst to meet the evolving needs of our clients and the industry.

And it can only get better! To date, we’ve fully embraced government funding opportunities, using the 95% support for small employers. And with the upcoming plans for 100% funding for apprenticeship training for under 21-year-olds, no doubt we’ll be looking to expand opportunities within Cox & Co. further.

I can honestly say that apprenticeship schemes present significant opportunities for small businesses in the payroll industry to invest in training. So, get prepared for a payroll future which could be beyond your wildest dreams!

Attracting young people to the payroll industry is crucial for Cox & Co.’s continued success. We’ve been fortunate to attract exceptional talent, offering a rewarding apprenticeship experience which sets individuals up for future success in their payroll careers.

By nurturing talent and providing a solid foundation, we’re not just shaping the future of our business but also elevating industry standards to new heights. 


This article feautured in the June 2024 issue of Professional.