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Conversations with Entrepreneurs

Meet Gavin Milligan from GEM Compliance Training

5th December 2022

According to the HSE, 123 people were killed in work-related incidents in 2021/22 and 565,000 were injured. Preventing workplace injuries and illnesses should be everyone's primary priority.

We were excited to sign GEM Compliance and Training as a new client. They provide award-winning first aid and safety training both online and on-site. Aside from the essential service they provide; Gavin has great energy, enthusiasm and expertise.

Find out more about his journey below.



In one sentence what is your business? 

We provide first-class First Aid, Health & Safety and CSCS training, supporting both businesses and individuals in meeting their compliance training needs. 

What prompted you to start the company and what problems are you solving?

Previous to setting up GEM in 2015, I worked in the Apprenticeship industry where I worked as a Contracts Area Manager. As well as overseeing the apprenticeships, I also outsourced external commercial training to complement the delivery of the Apprenticeships. First Aid and Health and Safety was a popular training course to complement well, but I only ever needed to put small groups on at a time.

I found it very difficult to find a provider that would run public courses for individuals and small groups but would only entertain groups of 8 or more. This is where I saw a gap in the market. I was very attracted to this type of training as this mandatory training needed attendees to requalify every 3-5 years, which would bring massive repeat business opportunities as well as picking up new business.  

In January 2015, I started to plan out what is now GEM by starting to source local training venues I could use to host public courses. We opted for a venue in Keighley to start off with which was very well received in our local area. We started to run public courses on a very small scale and gradually increased delivery as the demand increased by running more courses and sourcing other venues in neighbouring towns and cities. We now run between 25-30 public courses per month successfully in Bradford, Keighley, Skipton, Halifax, Hull, Sheffield, Manchester and Preston. In addition to this, we also run 40-50 onsite courses per month where we take our training out to our customer’s workplaces. We also run the region of 150 CSCS tests per month too. I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team to date, and we have further growth plans. 

What differentiates you from your competitors?

 As well as offering first-class training to our customers we feel we are ahead of our competitors due to the following reasons:

Most of our First Aid courses have a blended learning approach so our customers can complete part of their training by watching our own GEM video training presented by our own GEM trainers which can reduce attending face-to-face by as much as half So a typical 2-day course can be completed by completing 6 hours of our video training and 1 day in the classroom. In addition to this, all attendees of our regulated First Aid courses will also receive exclusive free access to our GEM First Aid annual refresher video training, presented by our GEM trainers, each year until certificate renewal is needed in 3 years’ time. Our First Aid competitors don’t offer these options which is why we are the leading provider in what we do as customers prefer our flexible and innovative approach to training. We have trademarked this offering under the GEM branding so it can’t be replicated. 

We also support businesses and individuals who need to obtain their CSCS cards to work on a construction site. In order to obtain this our customers need to hold a formal qualification and pass a CSCS test at a registered centre. We have opened our own CSCS test centres in Bradford, Hull and Sheffield. We also run Health and Safety Awareness training alongside this, which businesses and individuals can book. So, our customers can attend the training and CSCS test all on the same day and at the same venue. Our competitors offer the training as we do but must refer them to a provider that can offer CSCS tests which is often on a different day. Our customers prefer to do both elements on the same day which is why we are the leading provider in our local area for this.  

What is something about your business that you're proud of?

Having started the business from scratch in 2015 with just myself and a trainer, GEM has grown to a business that is set to achieve £500k turnover this financial year with a much larger team of 7 team members and working closely with 15 freelance trainers. 

It has also been great to see our internal staff grow and develop. These are some examples:

  • My fellow director Alice Brooksbank started as a Business Administrator in 2018 and has embraced her role, securing many more senior responsibilities and roles throughout her time at GEM, which includes her latest promotion which was being promoted to Director of Operations in 2021 to work alongside myself.
  • Johnny Valentine started as a trainee trainer in 2019 and has been promoted to Quality Manager in 2022. 
  • Alice Holden also started as a trainee trainer in 2020 and has been promoted to Business Manager in 2022. 

Another proud moment was surviving the challenging times of COVID back in 2020. We changed the dynamics of our business in order to survive once we were able to reopen in June 2020. We created a Blended Learning approach to our training where the whole of the GEM team went into the film studios to record the knowledge elements of our training which helped reduce classroom time by as much as half. This was crucial in these uncertain times. With this change and investing heavily in PPE we were able to reopen successfully and weather the storm. Although we created our Blended Learning approach to combat the challenging times of COVID, we have found this is how our customers want to attend our courses beyond COVID. Most of our courses are now Blended Learning where attendees complete our video training presented by our own GEM trainers before attending our face-to-face sessions. It was a real team effort so a proud moment for us all at GEM and has been very influential in the growth we have seen in the company.   

We won a New Business of the Year Business Award at the Keighley & Airedale Business Awards in 2016. We since have come back to sponsor the same award at the Keighley & Airedale Business Awards 2022 awards just this last June. A very proud moment to sponsor an award we won back in 2016. 

What are your goals for the future of the company? 

To grow the company even further. We expect at least a 10% year-on-year natural growth each year in our operational area in Yorkshire. We are also hoping to offer further areas to Franchise from 2023 onwards, once we have fully supported our two current Franchisees initially. This will generate income over and above our year-on-year growth in our Yorkshire area. With this model, we feel safe to grow the company even further but maintain the quality and high level of customer service.

We are thrilled with Gavin and his team's progress to date and delighted to bring you this opportunity.

To invest click here.

Risk Warning

Past performance and forecasts are not reliable indicators of future results. Your capital invested is not covered for compensation in the event of a loss by the FSCS. Tax treatment will depend on the individual circumstances and may be subject to change. Please see our Risk section before making an investment decision.

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Risk warning

Past performance and forecasts are not reliable indicators of future results. Your capital invested is not covered for compensation in the event of a loss by the FSCS. Tax treatment will depend on the individual circumstances and may be subject to change. Please see our Risk section before making an investment decision.