Tell us a bit about your background?
I was born in Rugby, Warwickshire and moved to Cheshire when I was quite young. I was brought up in the town of Knutsford. I studied at Knutsford High School and continued on to complete A levels at the same school. As a teenager, looking to begin a career I would not have imagined that I would be in a technology focused industry
Why did you decide to become an apprentice?
I spent 3 years performing a Facilities Role for a nuclear power company where I had gained a good level of responsibility. Although I enjoyed my job, I had reached a progression barrier and knew that I wanted to form a successful career in a more exciting industry, so I made the career choice to take a step back in order to progress further in the Technology industry. I seized the opportunity to join the Barclays Apprenticeship Scheme, it allowed me to work in a role I had no prior experience with, extend my learning and gain the opportunity to progress at a quicker rate as part of the apprenticeship programme. This was a considered risk as it initially involved accepting a pay cut and reduced responsibility. However this risk was worth taking as I have gained an enormous amount from the Barclays Apprenticeship scheme in the long run.
What was your experience as an apprentice?
Being an apprentice within Barclays has presented many opportunities that would not have been available to me otherwise. The training involved in the Barclays apprenticeship is bespoke for each apprentice and can be tailored to an individual’s role. This allowed me to complete both technical and business based training and build a solid foundation for all aspects of my day to day work. The training was not limited to Barclays in house training and allowed me to gain technical training from recognised technology companies such as IBM, Teradata and Oracle; all which have developed my technical skills to a much higher level allowing me to take on more complex projects and perform more efficiently within my role. I have also been lucky enough to be involved with mentoring other apprentices, which I am passionate about and also showcasing the Barclays scheme to others through college presentations and events.
Why is it important for employers to offer apprenticeship schemes?
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for people to build a solid career path whilst learning a skill. Apprenticeships are currently aimed at “young people” (16-24) leaving college/ school in the view of completing an apprenticeship instead of going to university. I began my apprenticeship at age 25 after working for 3 years in a corporate and professional role where there was no progress available. I believe that regardless of age or background, there should be career opportunities. Apprenticeship schemes are an amazing opportunity for willing individuals to learn a specific skill and develop a strong career path whilst adding value to their organisation. They also allow employers to gain new talented employees who would not be accepted though other entry paths.
Are there any particular industries that should be doing more to train young people?
Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity to learn specialised skills. Industries that focus on sciences, technology and engineering could do more to entice people in and fully train their apprentices. These industries can be difficult to enter into without a degree, however gaining experience, on the job training and formal training from an apprenticeship can lead to a successful career.
Can the Government do more to support apprenticeship schemes?
I believe that the government’s support and promotion of apprenticeships has grown over recent years, however they could be instrumental in improving the way that people view apprenticeships. They need ensure that the public and potential apprentices see them as a real way to build a successful career.
Do young people today have the work ethos and indeed the patience to undertake an apprenticeship?
Yes, some young people have real drive and determination to achieve their goals and make things better, these individuals would be suited to an apprenticeship and would be likely to be successful. However, in my experience there are others who have no experience of business environments and need more guidance and management. Apprenticeship schemes should work to help apprentices understand that hard work is vital in order to achieve what you want
Do you think that some smaller businesses are wary of offering schemes in case employees then move to a rival employer?
I would say that in some cases yes, small businesses might be wary and there is risk in apprentices leaving at the conclusion of a scheme. However if the scheme is beneficial for apprentices and has the right steps in place to offer permanent positions after the scheme concludes, much like the Barclays scheme, then the risk of losing these trained individuals should be reduced. Especially if the environment, job role, pay and conditions are correct.
People sometimes equate apprentices with traditional manufacturing industries but is there scope for more modern businesses to offer schemes?
Absolutely, I graduated from an IT technical apprenticeship, where I was involved in new and innovative technologies. Offering schemes in more modern industries is also a way of appealing to more young people and revamping the reputation of apprenticeships as an exciting and forward thinking career path.
Germany has a very large and long tradition of apprenticeships which has enabled them to preserve a strong manufacturing base. What can we learn from the Germans?
I have little knowledge of the German apprenticeship tradition, however judging by the fact that they have an extremely strong economy, we could probably assume that apprenticeships have proved to be a very successful way of entering into a lasting and successful career.
What are your ambitions now?
After completing my apprenticeship I have taken on the role of project lead, this involves project management duties and I aim to become certified in Project Management as this is a fully transferable skill. I have thoroughly enjoyed mentoring new apprentices and this has given me the ambition to manage people at some point in the future. Winning Apprentice champion of the year has also increased my drive to promote apprenticeships and how they can help to form a career.
How will winning this competition help you in your career?
Winning Apprentice Champion of the year is a great achievement and has already increased my visability across the Barclays organisation. I am sure that it will open the door to even more opportunities and I want to make the most of these whilst continuing to develop my skills and career