The Benefits of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Introducing Multi-Factor Authentication

With an ever-increasing number of malicious attackers in the cyber world, industry standards and recommendations change more frequently than ever. Both corporate and consumer businesses need to look deeper into securing their data, that’s where Multi-Factor Authentication (referred to as MFA onwards) comes into action. MFA is a set of measures enabled to help users protect their accounts whether it be for banking accounts or documents or anything of value. A common form of MFA is a text message with a code sent to a mobile number which can then be entered on a computer or mobile device to confirm a login attempt. Other common methods are time-based codes for each account shown through an app (known as an authenticator app). Alternatively, biometrics such as fingerprints or voice/face recognition can also be used. A helpful feature of MFA is that, within a short period of time, using MFA once will allow the user to log in to valuable apps and documents without the need to use MFA every time. However, this will only work for a short period of time and eventually, the user will need to confirm a login attempt with MFA.

A white laptop showing a green skull and crossbones, two magnifying glasses highlight green fingerprints on the screen of the laptop.

MFA is important

Nowadays the majority of people use passwords or PIN combinations to guard their phones, computers or data. Whilst this provides security by narrowing access to people who know the password or PIN this often proves to be insufficient.  Frequently people be will use either a single or handful of passwords that they can remember across all their accounts. Security-wise this is a danger by itself as it would only take one or two accounts to be breached to get access to potentially everything that a user has access to. By enabling MFA there is always an additional factor for security.

Let’s say that a password is found out by a malicious actor and they attempt to log in, if text message codes were enabled, the owner of the account would receive a code on their phone. By seeing the code appear whilst knowing that no login attempt was made by them, it is a safe assumption that the password was compromised and should be changed. In the same scenario, if prompted to scan a fingerprint then the only way for the bad actor to gain access would be with the consent and participation of the account owner.

A stream of blue energy wrapping around a padlock and fingerprint icon. Someone’s hand is pressing on the fingerprint icon.

What we recommend

It is always highly advisable to prioritise password length over complexity, the more letters and characters in place, the more secure the password. With all that said there’s always a potential inconvenience to users when their usual behaviour of passwords with rememberable words or events is changed to lengthy and ambiguous characters. Increasing password length is always a good way to go, however, it is still a single line of defence, if it becomes known there are no other means of preventing access.

MFA helps end-users by providing more flexible criteria for creating passwords. They can use something they can reasonably remember and only have to spend a little more than a handful of seconds on going through the first login steps. With an example of time-based codes from an app, the user would just type their rememberable password of 12 or more characters, take their phone, open an authenticator app (e.g. Google Authenticator) and enter a short 6-8 digit code. As a result of spreading the login process across at least two methods of authentication, the user can use relatable passwords which they are a lot less likely to forget and can keep their accounts secure.

If you would like to know more about Multi-Factor Authentication, please contact us at info@theapprenticestore.co.uk or call us on +44(0)1463 572042.

This blog was written by Janis Sinders, our IT Support Apprentice.

What is WordPress?

WordPress: an introduction

What do you think of when someone mentions WordPress? You may immediately think of how WordPress is an online website creator tool and you would be right! There is, however, more to this initial assumption, for example, WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System), which is a fancy way of saying WordPress allows you to create content that you can edit and publish. With WordPress, bloggers, article writers, and small businesses can easily create the content they want effectively.

When developing websites WordPress is one of the biggest tools used worldwide. It is a global tool that is used on around 37% of all websites on the internet. The biggest reason for this is WordPress is extremely easy to use, follow, and design. WordPress is the tool we use here at The Apprentice Store for our web development projects. We believe it offers the best price, functionality, and flexibility for our clients.

WordPress is a simple but extremely powerful tool, in fact, it is so easy you can set up a website in no time at all and have a fully operating website. With relative ease, WordPress allows all kinds of projects to be completed, be those of a small blog website to a fully functioning dynamic eCommerce store. WordPress gives you access to a one-stop shop for everything you will need to make a website from beginner to pro, all under one roof.

WordPress: the basics

Next, we will talk about the things which make up a WordPress Website the main things are as follow;

  1. The Theme
  2. Plugins
  3. Gutenberg Block Editor

Now this list can seem a bit daunting. This list is here to show you a few things you need to make a simple WordPress website.

The Theme

The theme is like the skin of your website, it is how it appears to your website’s visitors. Now there are tens of thousands of themes and they can vary from being free to rather pricey. However, most free themes offer a large amount of functionality which will be acceptable for most people. Neve is a prime example of an easy theme to use. This theme in the free version is excellent for simple to complex projects.

Plugins

A plugin is a tool that adds extra functionality to our website, be that visually or functionality based. For example, we download a plugin that will give us a better search bar or a plugin that will give us extra functionality within your Gutenberg Editor (you can find this further down). Plugins are an easy stress-free way of adding some functionality and/or features to our website, often for free. Most plugins come in a free or pro version, however in most cases for a simple website the free version will offer you the functionality you need.

A stable plugin should on average be updated every month to three months at most. If for whatever reason a plugin hasn’t been updated in 5+ months, it is safe to assume this plugin is no longer being supported. This is important as updates don’t only give you new features, they fix security flaws. So the longer the plugin is left unsupported, the higher the risk there will be a security issue/flaw.

For example, if you were looking for a contact form plugin you would look to plugins like Contact Form by WPForms or Ninja Forms as they seem to have a large star rating and a relatively new update. Contact Form 7 does have a lot of installations but the last update was 3 weeks ago (as of writing this). Their star rating is also lower than both Contact Form by WPForms and Ninja Form.

Free vs Pro Plugins

Now with plugins, there can sometimes be 2 different versions of these plugins a free version and the pro version. The free version will be a plugin providing you with the basic version of what it offers. For example, let’s say a table builder. The free version will simply let you make a table and add text. However, the pro version of this plugin may allow you to embed videos and let you change the background colours. Another perk of going pro is it may offer better priority customer service for being a paying customer. Now in most cases, the free version of the plugins will be what you want. However, if you are considering buying a pro version please do your research first. Make sure the free version doesn’t offer what you essentially need.

The same rules can be applied to pro plugins when it comes to the regularity of updates.

(Please note: developers can be contacted via their contact information. If you don’t know when something is still being supported, you can contact them to discuss the matter)

Gutenberg Block Editor

This is possibly the easiest and most enjoyable part of a website this is where we design our content. WordPress changed the way their websites are designed by introducing the block system. For example, if you want to add text you would choose a paragraph block, an image will be an image block etcetera.

The Gutenberg block editor made website design a much more user-friendly process for those with near to no web development knowledge, making it a simple and easy process to begin your website.

It is so easy and simple to use, someone with no experience with WordPress would be able to tell what blocks do what. Below you can see an example of the Gutenberg block editor. Plugins that convert into blocks will appear here too, as you can see this image shows that Ninja Form is installed. Generally, these blocks are easy to understand and even easier to implement.

Should you require assistance with your WordPress website please feel free to contact us and we can answer any questions you have.

This blog was written by one of our Web Development Apprentices Ryan Mckenna.

A guide to Microsoft 365 licences

a guide to Microsoft 365 licencing

Microsoft 365 Licensing for Businesses

Microsoft 365 is a suite of cloud-based applications for your business. Microsoft offers a wide range of subscriptions to businesses, but it is sometimes hard to tell what is suitable for your needs. In this blog post, we’ll talk through the small business offerings, what’s included in them and why you would choose one over the other.

Note that Microsoft’s licensing changes over time. The information provided here is accurate at the time of writing (15th October 2021).

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

This is Microsoft’s entry-level offering. It grants you access to:

  • Business class email services with a custom domain (@yourcompany.com)
  • Office online applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more!)
  • 1TB (1024GB) of OneDrive storage per user
  • Access to SharePoint online
  • Full features of Microsoft Teams

There may be some jargon in there if you’re new to Microsoft 365, so here we’ll explain that a little more below. Feel free to scroll past this part if you’re already versed in the Microsoft cloud applications.

Office Online

Office applications such as Word and Excel can run in the browser. They are very similar to those you get on a desktop. There are some features that are unsupported, but light usage users can get by using these, so long as a sufficient Internet connection is in place.

OneDrive

Is effectively cloud storage like Dropbox, Box or Google Drive if you have ever used these services before. The data you store can be accessed via a web browser or through your file explorer if you have the data synchronisation client installed.

SharePoint

SharePoint is also cloud storage but with a focus on teamwork and collaboration. While you would typically use OneDrive for storing your own personal files, and ad-hoc sharing of files with others, SharePoint acts as a defined space for shared data. You could store all your shared data in one library, like a server file share. However, we encourage using the modern features of SharePoint such as sites, where you can have your own dedicated spaces for projects, departments, or teams but SharePoint does far more than file storage.

Now, this is defined, let’s look at some of Microsoft’s other offerings.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

One step up, it includes all features from Business Basic with the addition of:

  • Desktop apps
  • Microsoft Bookings

The main difference is desktop apps. Users won’t experience the limitations of running apps like Word in a browser, they can now have it installed on their computer. In total, they can install it on up to 5 devices that the licensed user uses, such as other computers, phones or tablets.

Another feature in Standard is Microsoft Bookings. This is an online booking service that allows customers to book time with you through your website (once configured). It can then be managed through the bookings portal and your own Outlook calendar which is great for allowing people to book in your busy calendar to reduce emails to find a hole to align busy diaries.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business

Perhaps you already have a server for your shared data, an email system you don’t want to change and all you want is the latest copy of Microsoft Office. This plan is for you, it only includes:

  • Desktop apps
  • 1TB (1024GB) of OneDrive storage per user

Summary

Here is a matrix to help you choose what small business license to buy.

LicenseDesktop AppsOnline AppsPersonal Cloud Storage (OneDrive)Shared Cloud Storage (SharePoint)Email Services (Exchange)
Microsoft 365 Business StandardXXXXX
Microsoft 365 Business Basic XXXX
Microsoft 365 Apps for Business XX  

If you have any questions, please contact us!

James’s work experience

Work background…

My name is James Hendry. This is a snippet of my time during my work experience at The Apprentice Store.

I reached out to The Apprentice store after doing my first year at Moray UHI. I was looking to gain valuable experience within the IT sector. David Massey, the Managing Director, kindly got back to me and offered me this opportunity. After a good discussion, he asked me to have a think about which area I would like to work in. I chose to work within the Web Dev team. The experience was delivered to me in a way that gave me power over how I worked. This gave me the chance to work both in the office and remotely. This is something I would never have done after years in engineering. I believe this was important as more companies are looking at remote working, so getting this mixture was great.

And so it begins…

I was excited about starting my placement. This was a step in the right direction to changing my career after being made redundant from my previous job.

My first week at The Apprentice Store was delivered online. It was a welcomed change and I was excited to work from home. I was welcomed by Declan the Operations Manager who gave me a small induction and made me feel at ease. My main task for the first week was to research a set of questions for David. The questions David had set were hugely important to web dev and researching them was great. The web dev team Ryan M, Ryan G, Michael and Laura were all on hand to assist if I needed any help with them. I came away from this exercise with a great document full of information that I can refer to going forward. Here is a picture of one of the research subjects from my document:

WooCommerce work.

This leads on to a meeting with David who went over my answers with me. We chose questions that I was slightly unsure about which prompted David to provide me with a very detailed answer. Moreover, it allowed me to further my knowledge.

On to the next task…

My days from here on were mainly focused on building a website with WordPress. David had given me The Seaboard Centre as a project.

WordPress is brilliant but has a huge amount to get your head around. However, I wasn’t fazed by this as I love to learn. I had dived into learning about everything from plugins to child themes and so much more. I looked at Html, CSS, PHP all of which are aspects of WordPress. During the creation of my small site Ryan M, Laura, Michael and Ryan G were all on hand to help. During my days the team would give me certain things to look at and use like the WordFence security plugin. The following are snippets of my site:

The Seaboard Centre work, home page.
The Seaboard Centre work, welcome text.

Having never used WordPress before but I was impressed with what was achievable. I now am eager to continue learning more about it. I have purchased a WordPress course so that I may be able to continue studying the inner workings of WordPress.

Onwards and upwards…

Going forward it’s sad to leave The Apprentice Store as I have enjoyed my time massively here.

I have gained a far better knowledge of Web development and the power of WordPress which I want to expand. The staff including “lucy the dog” are all brilliant and friendly and would help with any of my issues. The opportunity I had with The Apprentice Store team definitely make the transition to a new career and future achievable.

A final thank you from James.

I’d like to thank David and his team for having me. They gave me the opportunity to learn from them and it will help me on my journey.

The Apprentice Store wanted to thank James for taking the time to work with us and we wish him all the best for his future in IT. The team look forward to hearing how James gets on with his new course and where it will take him.

Final goodbye to Castle House.

New move, new chapter

At the beginning of July, The Apprentice Store moved to a new office following the organisation’s continued growth and marking the next chapter.

Offering web development and design, IT support, and IT cybersecurity, The Apprentice Store is a full-service IT company.

The Apprentice Store, now five years old, recently welcomed Donald Buchanan, Ryan Geldart, and Laura Kirk, taking the team to 12. Ryan Geldart has been hired as a web development apprentice, Donald is providing finance and admin support and in another new role, Laura as a digital marketing apprentice.

The Apprentice Store is proud to be welcoming new colleagues into a new and bigger canal-side office in Inverness. 

The move is yet another milestone in a busy five years since the social enterprise was founded. Other highlights include the acquisition of leading web development business Lanetech and the Investors in Young People Gold Accreditation Award which was presented by Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney in 2019.

Now with a strong client portfolio with the majority of business obtained through client referral, the reputation of The Apprentice Store both for its breadth of IT services and excellence in customer service, extends throughout the Highlands and beyond.

Now settled into its new office, the team at The Apprentice Store is ready to support businesses of all sizes across the UK.

Get in touch on 01463 572042 or support@theapprenticestore.co.uk to see how we can help your business.

Follow The Apprentice Store on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and their website for updates and more.

Visit the team at the new office at Unit 3, 7a Canal Road, Inverness IV3 8NF. The team would be delighted to welcome existing and new clients to join them in the next part of their journey.

Social Ark Logo

Young people from Inverness help young social entrepreneurs in Tower Hamlets get their businesses online

Young people from Inverness-based IT specialist The Apprentice Store have connected with young social entrepreneurs in East London during lockdown to help them acquire much needed digital skills and get their businesses online.

The Apprentice Store is participating in an accelerator programme specifically for social enterprises organised by the EY Foundation, which seeks to help young people facing barriers to entering work and supports social entrepreneurs. Also participating in the programme is Social Ark, a charity based in Tower Hamlets in East London. Social Ark supports young people from under-resourced East London communities to use their lived experiences to develop social businesses of their own.

However, had it not been for the lockdown, the two organisations would never have met. David Massey, managing director of The Apprentice Store, explained: “There are 43 socially driven organisations on the 12 month Accelerate Programme and nine of them are based in Scotland. Prior to lockdown, we met once a month in person but only within our respective regional groups. Once lockdown began the format changed to a virtual delivery with coffee mornings open to all regional groups. That’s how I met the truly inspiring Lisa Stepanovic, founder and CEO of Social Ark.”

David and Lisa hit it off immediately and it soon became apparent that not only did they share the same values and goals of supporting young people to build a better future for themselves, but that there was a way that The Apprentice Store and Social Ark could come together and do something really amazing during lockdown.

Just before lockdown, many of the Social Ark young entrepreneurs were in the early stages of launching their social enterprises. However, the entrepreneurs struggled to move forward. Lisa quickly identified the need for each of their organisations to have a greater web presence, enabling them to adapt their services around the pandemic.

David worked out that The Apprentice Store could help. He and Lisa developed a programme and over four weeks, five young social entrepreneurs worked closely with The Apprentice Store team developing their websites and gaining the skills needed to manage and maintain their websites.

Supporting David in the programme was Jordan Whyte, aged 18 from Nairn, who has been a web developer with the Apprentice Store since 2019. Over a series of four weeks, David and Jordan did weekly group sessions with the entrepreneurs in East London and Jordan also provided one-to-one sessions. They covered basic WordPress so that they could build websites and they also covered Google Analytics, SEO, e-commerce and cyber security.

Jordan described the coaching experience: “This was something completely different for me. I am an apprentice myself and still learning, so to be the coach and teach people web development skills from scratch was quite daunting at first but by the end of the four weeks, I felt proud of myself and what we’d achieved.”

The Apprentice Store supported a diverse group of young entrepreneurs, each with completely different social enterprises. These included Time to Shine – a commercial and residential cleaning business; YUCAN – an organisation that advocates for young carers under the age of 16; Your Life More Life – an organisation that seeks to support young people to overcome the effects of violence and poverty; Huriah Hemp – an ethical clothing brand that creates T-shirts for change; and True Cadence – an organisation that uses the power of music and video to engage young people.

Speaking about the collaboration, Lisa Stepanovic said: “I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together. Throughout lockdown, our vision, values and commitment to our young people and their communities drove us forward. The Social Ark and The Apprentice Store partnership would never have come to light without the Coronavirus pandemic. If you’d have told me a few months ago that our young entrepreneurs would be working with young people from the Highlands, I simply wouldn’t have believed it! I’m confident that what we achieved together over just a few weeks could serve as a blueprint for future collaboration.  Shared values and a sense of community have no boundaries.”

The young social entrepreneurs are extremely grateful for the support from The Apprentice Store and are optimistic about the future.  

Emmanuel Ebokosia, founder of True Cadence said: “David was patient and willing to go through things in a way I’d understand. He was on hand to provide support, especially with the coding. I learnt how themes actually work and the different functionalities within WordPress, this enabled me to better utilise the features. It feels good to have an e-commerce website, it’ll enable me to do a lot more, especially when I start selling my courses. Thank you to David and the Apprentice Store team, and also Social Ark for the opportunity.”

Sanyu Musoke, founder of YUCAN Reach, explained: “Over 4 weeks during the Covid19 Lockdown, David and Jordan from the Apprentice Store coached a group of us at Social Ark, supporting us to develop our own websites. Tech really isn’t my thing and I did struggle a bit at first. The team spent lots of 1:1 time with me, going above and beyond, helping me to design and launch the YUCAN website. I’ve learned how to use WordPress and how to update it properly. I’m so excited to have my own website now. Thank you, David and Jordon and my Social Ark Family.”

Saif Bhoja, founder of Huriah Hemp added: “David and one of his spectacular apprentices Jordan supported me in maximising the potential of my website. They helped me to understand many of the potential current and future pitfalls. They provided an insight into essential web systems through individual one-to-ones and group sessions. This process has helped me grow my entrepreneurial toolkit. Allowing it to extend further into various online elements such as SEO, Web Design and more. I am grateful to have received this support, it has propelled me further in my social enterprise journey and I hope that others can benefit from this experience. Thank you, Apprentice Store.”

The team from the EY Foundation Accelerate Programme is proud of the collaboration between The Apprentice Store and Social Ark. Margaret Gibson OBE, Deputy Chief Executive of the EY Foundation explained: “One of the aims of the Accelerate Programme is to promote networking and build a community of social entrepreneurs across the UK. The collaboration between The Apprentice Store and Social Ark was a joy to follow, as it embodied this goal (across a very large distance) and most importantly supported young people. Providing them with vital skills to use for their own social enterprises during, what was and is, a very uncertain time for them.”

Jordan Whyte

Apprentice turned mentor, who would have thought?

If you’d told me that within the first year of joining the Apprentice Store as a web developer apprentice that I’d be doing some teaching I’d have laughed out loud and yet that is exactly what happened during lockdown.

When I reflect on my experience of lockdown, I realise just how formative it has been for me. After the initial adjustment to working from home and understanding the ramifications of the pandemic, my job actually got busier and I was challenged in ways I didn’t expect.

Understandably, a lot of business owners have taken the opportunity to review their online presence during lockdown and consequently I have built a lot of websites over the last few months. But the real highlight has been making connections with young people at the opposite end of the country and helping them learn new digital skills.

The Apprentice Store is participating in an accelerator programme specifically for social enterprises organised by the EY Foundation, which seeks to help young people facing barriers to entering work and supports social entrepreneurs. Our involvement in this is led by David, our managing director. David hit it off with Lisa Stepanovic the founder of a social enterprise in London called Social Ark.

Social Ark is based in Tower Hamlets in East London and supports young people from under-resourced East London communities to develop social businesses of their own. After identifying a way that The Apprentice Store could support young entrepreneurs from Social Ark, David asked me to help.

Over four weeks, we worked with five social entrepreneurs which resulted in each social enterprise having a website and each entrepreneur gaining newly acquired skills to manage and maintain their online presence. We covered everything from covered basic WordPress to Google Analytics, SEO, e-commerce and cyber security.

For the first time, I moved from a role supporting David to hosting my own one-to-one sessions with my counterparts in London. It was quite a change!

The whole experience was really positive and I feel much more confident now. Teaching other people something you have had to learn yourself actually reinforces your own understanding. It helped that I was dealing with people close to my own age as it was easier to connect with them on the same level. For me, the contrast between Nairn and East London is huge so it was interesting for me to simply get to know them. I hope that we can stay in touch as I’d like to see what happens over the next few months and how successful their businesses are.

I’m passionate about what I do, and I’m pleased that I was able to help other people gain digital skills. I really believe that digital skills are important especially if you are starting a business.

this is some of the python I made during my work experience

Dylan’s Work Experience

I came to The Apprentice Store who provide IT support, web development, Cyber Security services from their Inverness office. Enable Scotland helped me find work experience at The Apprentice Store. I wanted to learn about what different work takes place in the computing industry and experience some for myself.

First experience of work

The first thing I worked on with The Apprentice Store was thinking about and creating test data for a statistics page they had set up. This page collected reviews and displayed data using these reviews. To see if it was working as intended test needed to carried out. Data from the previous 30 days had a percentage of good/bad reviews. This needed to be compared to the 30 days before and a percentage increase or decrease given out.

To begin with I struggled to understand exactly what I needed to do. I made my initial set of data with random days from the previous 60. David reminded me that I had to consider the extremes of the data so that the test data would be helpful . So, with new guidance, I set out to make the data better fit its purpose.

And there is more

The problem with my second set of data was it was too general. The data I had to make had to go back 60 days. It had to include the day leading up to the 60th day, the 30th day and the current day. This had to be to the minute, 61 days previous 23:59:00 and 60 at 00:00:00 for example. In my second set I had only considered the date and not time of the day. We finally tested my third set of data because it looked more like the sample described above.

My next task

This page is actually part of my work experience in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which aims to get higher in online search results. I started by reading up on ways to climb the Google ladder. I learned, when reading about SEO, that Google looks for various criteria when placing a page in the rankings. They look for things such as having your key word appearing multiple times on your page. They also look for texts of appropriate length that don’t contain repeated sentences. Finally they like to see the key phrase in specific places like the title and introduction. Word Press was also very useful in helping to identify areas where my writing could be more effective from an SEO stand point.

The conclusion of my work experience

During my work experience I have learned some new skills, got an insight in to working on computers in a small office environment and been able to demonstrate previous knowledge.

My time on work experience at The Apprentice Store has been useful as I have had a chance to try some actual work and I have acquired skills. I can take away new skills apply them if I come back to computing as a job in the future which is definitely a possibility after this work experience. Work experience is something I would recommend to anyone looking into any career path as it allows you to see working in the career is actually like.

2019 British Chamber Awards

2019 Chamber Business Awards regional win for The Apprentice Store

The Apprentice Store, an IT service provider that delivers a unique IT service from Inverness, has been crowned one of the winners in the Scotland heats of the Chamber Business Awards 2019. Now in their 16th year, the Awards are a highlight of the business calendar, recognising the key role that local businesses play in driving the UK economy.

The Employer of the Year winner, The Apprentice Store, will now go forward to represent the Scotland Region in the national finals, which take place in London in November.

Francis Martin, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“The Chamber Business Awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the best of British business. Across the country, there are firms of all sizes and sectors thriving and showing their innovation and adaptability, even in the midst of turbulent times. 

“Our businesses communities continue to generate prosperity and opportunity so it’s only right that we support and shout about the fantastic things they are doing.

“Each year the calibre of applicants impresses our judges, and this pool of entrants was no different. All our finalists should be proud of their success in reaching this stage and we wish them the very best of luck.”

The Apprentice Store is an IT service provider that delivers a unique IT service from Inverness in the Scottish Highlands to the local business community and beyond. They are the only Scottish IT service provider that invests all of their profits into their staff whilst delivering a high quality and caring service to their clients.

The Apprentice Store works with businesses of all sizes and sectors to support them with their IT systems. The Apprentice Store offers all of their services on project and monthly basis regardless of the size of the business with the service designed around the client needs.

Crying emoji saying goodbye

A new chapter for Josh

Today is the last day at The Apprentice Store for Josh Black who joined us in 2018 as a network support apprentice.

Josh recently participated in our first every ‘Apprentice swap’ with Gael Force. This was a big transition for Josh moving from a consultancy role with multiple clients, to an in-house team at a large company. As ever, Josh rose to the challenge, so much so that he was offered a permanent role with Gael Force.

Daryl Titcomb, IT Administrator at Gael Force explains: “In recent placements with Gael Force we were incredibly impressed with Josh’s capability and his enthusiasm to learn on the job.  We are delighted that he will now join us in a permanent role within our highly active IT department. 

“The Apprentice Store has been very supportive to our needs as a business which is fully embracing IT developments at a fast pace.  We are very grateful to have been engaged with them in recent months, not only because we are gaining a young, motivated team member, but because we ourselves have learned a lot from the skills that young people bring to the company.”

David Massey, founder of The Apprentice Store congratulates Josh: “It is obviously a day of mixed emotions for me and the team. Whilst we are sad to see Josh go, we are so proud of him and everything he has achieved. We set up The Apprentice Store to create opportunities for young people in IT and Josh’s job offer with a well-established and significant employer in the Highlands is proof that the model works.”

We all wish Josh all the best for the next chapter in his career.

Jordan Whyte

Jordan joins the team

This week, we are delighted to welcome Jordan Whyte to The Apprentice Store.

Aged 17, Jordan has joined us as a web developer apprentice, having studied at Nairn Academy and completed his NPA Computing Level 5 at UHI.

Jordan is no stranger to The Apprentice Store, having done work experience with us through the Prince’s Trust earlier this year. We were so impressed with him that we stayed in touch and were delighted to offer him a permanent role.

Speaking about his first week, Jordan said: “It’s great to be here! I’m enjoying staying productive and learning something new each day with David and the team. The Apprentice Store is one of a very small number of local ICT companies that employs young people. I see this as a golden opportunity for me to grow as a web developer and gain valuable experience and qualifications which will stand me in good stead for the future. The chance to become financially stable whilst learning is such a good outcome for me.”

When he’s not in front of a screen, Jordan can be found exercising and shopping. He is saving his pennies to travel to new places!

Welcome Jordan!

Investors in Young People Presentation

The Apprentice Store achieves Investors in Young People gold accreditation

The Apprentice Store, an IT service provider in Inverness supporting businesses in the Highlands and beyond, has achieved the prestigious Investors in Young People gold accreditation – an achievement that represents a true commitment to the recruitment, development and retention of Scotland’s young people.

A plaque to commemorate this achievement was presented by Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney at the organisation’s office in Inverness today.

Developed in 2014 as a result of the Wood Commission recommendations, Investors in Young People is a unique framework that helps organisations in Scotland recruit, develop and retain young people, supporting youth employment.

Commenting on the award, David Massey, managing director and founder of The Apprentice Store, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to work with young people and help them forge a career in IT. To have our work with young people recognised by Investors in Young People and, at the highest level by John Swinney, means a great deal to us. We look forward to expanding The Apprentice Store, taking on more apprentices and supporting more clients in the Highlands and Islands as well as the rest of Scotland.”

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said: “I would like to congratulate The Apprentice Store on achieving the Investors in Young People Gold Accreditation Award. This success demonstrates to other organisations and apprentices what can be achieved with focus, motivation and dedication.

“Apprenticeships offer fantastic opportunities for people of all ages – providing them with the chance not only to work and earn, but also to achieve an industry recognised qualification to support future career ambitions. By equipping our young people with the right skills and learning opportunities we can help them on the pathway into employment ensuring Scotland’s economy continues to grow.”

Bonnie Clarke, Interim Chief Executive of Remarkable, the organisation licensed to deliver Investors in Young People, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for The Apprentice Store – congratulations! Investors in Young People not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, it also marks them out as an employer of choice. Our research shows that 95% of those involved with Investors in Young People say it is relevant to their organisation and as a result 93% of young people within these organisations feel valued. We wish The Apprentice Store continued success for the future.”

The Apprentice Store’s services cover web development, cyber security, IT support, and IT consultancy. The organisation works with businesses of all sizes and sectors from the public, private and third sector and is the only Scottish IT service provider that invests all profits into staff.

Apprentices are employed on a full-time basis rather than fixed term contracts with each following a personal learning plan. They typically follow levels 6 and 8 of Modern Apprenticeships, finishing their two-year programme with recognised qualifications (SVQs). They are all supported by mentors who are experts in their field to ensure that work is delivered to a high standard. Ultimately, The Apprentice Store has a core aim of increasing employment opportunities in IT for young people in the Highlands.

Now in its third year with a strong client base and expanding team and services, The Apprentice Store looks set for further growth as more businesses seek reliable IT services at a competitive rate, delivered by an unique combination of an enthusiastic apprentice and an experienced mentor.

New Website Package Launch

Introducing our New Website Packages

Are you in need of a new website?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

The Apprentice Store has just launched two new Website Packages to help you find the right website for your business or organisation, and at very competitive prices. Both of our new packages come with a special Brand Launch discount of 10% off the prices you see below until the end of November 2018.

The Apprentice Store Named Youth Employer of the Month

The Apprentice Store has been named Skills Development Scotland’s Youth Employer of the Month for August 2018 for our efforts in creating opportunities for young people, particularly those from diverse background.

We believe that businesses of all sizes should look to develop their workforce through the apprenticeship family from Foundation, through to Modern and Graduate Apprenticeships. Engaging with young people allows the workforce of the future to be developed today and by offering the right working environment you can be more confident that you keep the staff that you have developed.

David Massey and David Powell

The Apprentice Store Acquires Web Development Company Lanetech

As of the 1st June 2018, The Apprentice Store acquired leading web development business Lanetech. The acquisition will enable The Apprentice Store to diversify the IT services it provides to businesses across the Highlands and Islands and take on more apprentices to train in web development.

Inverness based Lanetech is a well-established business that has been serving clients across the UK for over 10 years under the leadership of David Powell. With more than 60 clients including well-known brands such as Craggan Outdoors and Keltic Seafare, Lanetech provides website design and development; internet services and email newsletter set-up and design.

and now there are two!

We are please to welcome Alex Clunas to The Apprentice Store to work alongside Matthew Dickinson in the delivery of services to our clients. Alex joins us from The Shirlie Project as a Digital Marketing Apprentice and is following a Modern Apprenticeship that is support by Skills Development Scotland. Alex has training support through his Modern Apprenticeship from Virtual Learning Academy based in Invergordon and is looking forward to his first training session from Tuminds in October.

Work Smarter, Not Harder – Office Automation

Mundane, repetitive jobs are not everyone’s favourite task but sometimes they are necessary to ensure the smooth running of your business. However, these kinds of jobs can not only sap motivation from your staff  they can also use up valuable time that could be better spent on growing your business as a recent client of ours knew only too well.

Our client was entering the same data in to two different systems in order to gain just one report at the end of it. That was before they asked The Apprentice Store to help.

Modern Apprenticeship Vacancy: IT Support Technician

 

Have you heard? We’re looking for a very special person to fill our first apprenticeship vacancy. APPLY NOW!

You’ll be working at The Apprentice Store in Inverness learning how to deliver a first class service to our client businesses around the Highlands. You’ll be mentored by our own David Massey who has had almost 30 years experience in delivery of IT services.

Cyber Essentials Renewal

As we were the first business in the Highlands and Islands that had achieved the UK government backed Cyber Essentials scheme badge for cyber security, we are the first needing to complete the annual renewal process. We are very pleased to announce that we have achieved Cyber Essentials again with this demonstrating the level of security that we have in place within our IT systems.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce

The Apprentice Store features in the Executive Magazine

In our first press outing The Apprentice Store has featured in the Executive Magazine. June’s edition features the IN-Business supplement by Inverness Chamber of Commerce and is also being distributed at the AMM Scottish Open Golf Championships being held at Castle Stuart.

“FOR a small business, hiring apprentices sometimes is not as easy as it could be.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce

The Apprentice Store joins the Inverness Chamber of Commerce

We’re now Chamber of Commerce Members

We’re delighted to announce that we have joined Inverness Chamber of Commerce. Inverness Chamber provides so many great ways of connecting with other local businesses including networking opportunities and events.

We’re looking forward to our first networking lunch on Wednesday 15th June and having the opportunity of chatting to fellow members about what we’re doing at here at The Apprentice Store.

The Apprentice Store receives seed funding from Firstport

Firstport awards £3,200 in seed funding to new shared apprenticeship programme

We are delighted to announce that The Apprentice Store has been awarded seed funding from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund. This means that we can start making a difference to young people sooner. We have been fortunate enough to benefit from £3,200 to help our shared apprenticeship venture grow. The Apprentice Store will help young people and those from disadvantaged or challenging backgrounds into employment. The funding has allowed us to concentrate on launching our website and begin marketing The Apprentice Store to local businesses in Inverness.

Article published in Insurance Day December 2015

Insurers need to find a better way to assess cyber risk

Due to the ever increasing utilisation of digital technology and the volume of data being processed and stored electronically, every business needs to become much more aware of the risks that they face. We have all heard of the high profile data leakages by Sony and Ashley Madison but how many data leakage events have occurred in the last 12 months that we have not heard about? In both cases it is thought that the leakage was caused through a socially engineered attack or weak internal systems control but this is now outside the interest of mainstream media and forgotten about. It is often the case that the reputational costs of a data breach are higher than the monetary value of the data leaked and, as a result, businesses should not focus purely on data that has a perceived high value.

Cyber Essentials arrives in the Highlands and Islands

We are very pleased to announce that we are the first business in the Highlands and Islands that has achieved the UK government backed Cyber Essentials scheme badge for cyber security. The Cyber Essentials scheme was released in June 2014 and today just over 1,000 businesses have managed to achieve this accreditation and given the very recent media coverage of the Talk Talk data breach it is ever more important that UK businesses implement controls and policies to protect against this threat. In addition to achieving Cyber Essentials, we also achieve ACE Practitioner status and are able to offer assistance to businesses that wish to achieve Cyber Essentials.