Kate Dewmartin set up Pembrokeshire-based craftcourses.com in 2011. It is a leading creative experience website, offering thousands of arts, crafts and wellbeing workshops, classes and courses. The company’s story is featured in a new report by The Open University and Be the Business into digital skills.
The site previously offered a largely in-person product, so the pandemic presented an acute challenge to Craft Courses. Kate’s business had to pivot to digital offerings and heavily invest in the company’s software infrastructure to bring in new digital tools – and is working with The Open University in Wales to assist this transformation.
Having the right engineering team was crucial according to Kate: “The team supports each other and we invest in upskilling to make sure that the software platform remains up to date and caters to customer needs.”
Kate enrolled an employee on The Open University in Wales’s Applied Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship – training which is fully funded by the Welsh Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.
“Being based in a very rural part of West Wales we had to turn on a sixpence to change our focus when the lockdowns hit.”
Working with the OU’s apprenticeship scheme has offered great stability. The apprentice stays with the company for four years and becomes an integral part of the team, while you have an opportunity to nurture homegrown talent. It’s a win-win situation and everyone is happy.”Kate Dewmartin, business owner of craftcourses.com
Kate is also looking to add another apprentice to her payroll as she believes that “the OU degree apprenticeship takes a lot of discipline to combine work and study” and that in itself shows great commitment.
Speaking about her plans and hopes for the future, Kate acknowledges that “training will remain essential to the growth of my company”.
The partnership with the OU is featured in Skills for Success – a report by The Open University and Be the Business which found that 77% of SME business leaders say they do not have the required skills to successfully implement new technology into their businesses. The report also includes recommendations for business leaders and for those delivering the learning and business support ecosystem.