Professional development is crucial for companies wanting to upskill their workforce as well as individuals keen to make themselves better adapted to the needs of employers.
Cognitia, based in Porth in the Rhondda, is a firm which aims at delivering new skills for the learners who enrol on its courses. Established by Nigel Lewis in 2015, it has gone on to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing specialist training providers.
Here, Nigel Lewis tells the Cognitia story, detailing its development as a respected training provider and his growth plans.
Tell us about Cognitia.
Well, Cognitia began with my own professional interest and area of expertise: health and safety training. It’s my specialism and an area I care about, so I guess it was a natural move for me to plot my journey in business with a training agency.
Cognitia was founded in 2015. I think it helps if you’re passionate about the sector you’re working in as an entrepreneur, and that’s spurred me on. I know that we’re offering quality training, improving the skills base and adding value to the economy. It’s work which is not just enjoyable but provides everyone in the Cognitia team with a great sense of professional satisfaction when we see the results – people gaining new skills, knowledge and newly able to further their careers.
When I started the company, I did so with an eye on a gap in the market for experienced training providers offering a more comprehensive learning resource, rather than one-off qualifications. With NVQ-style qualifications still growing and gaining traction globally, there was scope to form what I’d call a career-building company offering expertise in training around the world.
We’re now a fast-growing specialist competency-based health and safety training and skills provider. We’ve supported hundreds of NVQ learners with almost half of those progressing through to management qualifications. As a team, we have decades of experience in the planning and delivery of risk management training between us. We operate as a consultancy across three continents, and we’ll soon be entering Australasia. So there are exciting times ahead for us.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
We became one of the first training providers in the UK to qualify for safety, health and environment technician apprenticeships (SHE-TEC) – only missing out on being the first by a single day!
I’m enormously proud of the overseas partnerships we’ve formed, which have meant we’ve been able to grow as a global company.
But what I’m most proud of is the development of my team of dedicated staff. Their hard work has been invaluable in the growth of the business, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to see them develop as professionals as Cognitia has developed.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
I’d have recruited earlier. I spent a lot of time trying to manage and run all aspects of the business, which meant I was spreading myself too thinly, and it led to burnout.
By recruiting good people earlier, I think the company would have enjoyed the success it’s having now much sooner.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
We found the support of the Business Wales AGP through the Town Square Accelerator Programme. It’s been an enriching experience.
Through the programme, I recruited the business’ commercial and corporate director, and I’ve been introduced to several professional advisers who are all operating at the top of their field.
I’m grateful to have accessed the expertise and support on offer through Business Wales AGP; it’s such a valuable resource.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Recruit well, and make sure you bring in people that you can trust to take work off your hands.
● Be sure and confident in your goal, as this will drive you forward and help keep you going when times are tough
● Talk to people! Share and listen to peers and colleagues and take everything as an opportunity to learn and grow.
For more information on Cognitia, visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme