The S&A Academy is aiming to close the business change gap in Leeds with a groundbreaking apprenticeship and training programme for budding business analysts. The programme responds to growing demand from businesses in West Yorkshire as they struggle to hire critical talent to lead business change projects.

Delivered in Leeds city centre through a mix of in-person and virtual training, The S&A Academy’s new initiative is informed by over a decade of real-world project delivery experience. Specifically, the programme aims to relieve the pressure on businesses by providing a pipeline of talented people to support them in making positive changes operationally and/or technologically.

With the employment rate in Leeds still recovering from the pandemic, and job vacancies at their highest in West Yorkshire since 2001, it is more important than ever for local businesses to take proactive steps to develop their own talent, whilst enriching the UK’s skills bank.

With complex challenges set to continue for businesses, demand for trained business analysts is expected to increase, with software, operational systems and structural changes becoming more of a priority to support businesses to grow sustainably.

The 18-month Level-4 programme, which can be run part-time or as an upfront bootcamp, covers both theoretical and practical training. The training itself can be tailored to meet the needs of an individual business – offering training to existing employees or creating an inflow of new talent to support its growth strategy. With industry mentors and one-to-one coaching, candidates will learn how to optimise software and operational systems to drive efficiency and productivity.

Rachel Thomas, director of The S&A Business Academy, said, “Many business change projects were paused or mothballed during the pandemic, and some are only now coming back online. This is increasing demand for people with the right skillsets. Junior business analysts are the equivalent of a ‘swiss army knife’; using their technological know-how and managerial capabilities to cut through inefficiencies and streamline processes, delivering lasting, positive business change as they do so.

“Our new business analysis apprenticeship and training course will serve businesses that want to invest in developing their current workforce, as well as fast-growth businesses that need to recruit and onboard talented people quickly. All businesses are finding that it’s increasingly important to plan ahead to gain a competitive edge – taking steps to plug any skills gaps that might arise in the future.

“Our apprentices are trained by experienced industry experts who are still actively leading major change programmes for clients across the public and private sectors. This means that our courses are always relevant, full of real-world insights and added value. If you are a candidate looking for a complete training package and higher-level qualification without any associated debt, or a business looking to introduce a new apprenticeship scheme under any model, it’s more important than ever to find a credible training partner to work with you over the long term.”

Allan Hood, business analyst for The S&A Group, said: “I began my career as a back-office administrator in servicing and was first exposed to project management when my company underwent a transformation programme to repatriate its server array. I began to analyse the data to build efficiencies and was hooked. I proactively pursued a project business analyst role – completing my training in just eight months, gaining real-world experience as I learned in a way that brought the theory to life. Becoming a business analyst has been a rewarding experience and I intend to develop my skillset further in the future.”

Gordon Pearse, business transformation and change director at The S&A Transform Group, an Academy sister company, said: “Our apprentices and trainees have the skills they need to support our clients in delivering their transformation objectives. From the start, they are engaged in the whole delivery lifecycle - from conducting an initial analysis through to ensuring solutions stay aligned with desired business objectives. The S&A Academy’s new programme provides a pipeline of talent underpinned by real industry experience and mentorship from our experienced business analyst community.”