• A Level Results Day 17th August 2017 – It’s Decision Time!

    10th August 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    A Level Results

    It is only one week until year 13 students across the country receive their A Level results! A day that potentially determines the pathway you will choose to take for the rest of your life. A pretty daunting day for many young people, and I remember it well!

    Whether you do better than you had hoped, or not as well as you had hoped, know that either way you are in the perfect position to start on the apprenticeship pathway. I came away from my A Level’s with two B’s, two C’s, and a D.

    When I was at college, apprenticeships were only loosely discussed during a couple of careers lessons, but university always came first. Even if you knew you were not going to university, you still had to fill in a UCAS application form. But I knew that university was not the place for me. Mainly because I didn’t think I would get the grades, and also because tuition fees were being raised and I did not want to be paying that loan back for the rest of my life!

    Over the past few years there has been a massive push to get year 12 and 13 students interested in choosing the apprenticeship pathway. There is no time like the present to take a look into this option. My advice to you is, have a think about what you enjoy. Are you a problem solver? Are you interested in art or creative writing? If you are planning on going to university, what are you planning on studying? I bet whatever you enjoy, or plan on doing, you can do an apprenticeship in that area.

    Start by searching the things that you enjoy, or plan on doing. You will be amazed at the types of Advanced, Higher, and Degree Apprenticeship you could get involved with. Then go on to the www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship website. There you can search for apprenticeships near you. Try to make the search as broad as possible – you never know what might jump out at you.

    For those of you who are still not sure about whether an apprenticeship is right for you, take a look at a handful of the benefits of  doing an apprenticeship:

    • Learning is free – even at degree level
    • There is always variety in what you learn
    • You get paid to learn (at least £130 per week) and it jumps up quickly!
    • You are gaining work experience from day one
    • You finish your apprenticeship with at least one nationally recognised qualification
    • You can continue your studies in an apprenticeship, all the way to Master Degree Level if you want to – so you won’t miss out on a Masters!

    I completed my apprenticeship in Design Engineering, and I am now a Project Engineer at Southco Manufacturing Ltd. Just because you start on one pathway, does not mean you will stay on that pathway for the rest of your career. It is up to you to make of it what you will. The first step is always the hardest. An apprenticeship is by no means easy, but when you complete it, you will be in a far better position to make the right choices for you.

    If you still aren’t sure about whether to do an apprenticeship, or to go on to University, that is OK! There is nothing stopping you from either trying out, or completing your degree, and then taking the apprenticeship pathway. The only difference is, instead of doing an Advanced, Higher, or Degree Apprenticeship, when you finish your degree, you could go on to complete a Masters Apprenticeship.

    To find out more about the level of apprenticeship you could do, visit www.getingofar.gov.uk

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_Apprentice

    Pippa

  • GCSE Results Day 24th August 2017 – Are You Ready?

    10th August 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    GCSE PASS

    It is only two weeks until year 11 students across the country receive their GCSE results! A day that determines the pathway you will choose to take for the next few years of your life. A pretty daunting day for many young people, and I remember it well!

    Whether you do better than you had hoped, or not as well as you had hoped, know that either way you are in the perfect position to start on the apprenticeship pathway. I came away from my GCSE’s with A’s and B’s, the equivalent of 7’s and 6’s to this years’ grading scheme.

    When I was at school, apprenticeships were never on the agenda, you would only do a vocational qualification if you were not achieving academically. So, I was pushed on to do my A Levels at a local Sixth Form college. However, this is no longer the case!

    Over the past few years there has been a massive push to get year 11 students interested in choosing the apprenticeship pathway. There is no time like the present to take a look into this option. My advice to you is, have a think about what you enjoy. Are you a problem solver? Are you interested in art or creative writing? Do you enjoy playing sports? You can do an apprenticeship in almost any area.

    Start by searching the things that you enjoy doing. You will be amazed at the types of Intermediate Apprenticeship you could get involved with. Then go on to the www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship website. There you can search for apprenticeships near you. Try to make the search as broad as possible – you never know what might jump out at you.

    For those of you who are still not sure about whether an apprenticeship is right for you, take a look at the benefits of doing an apprenticeship:

    • There is always variety in what you learn
    • You get paid to learn (at least £130 per week)
    • You are gaining work experience from day one
    • You finish your apprenticeship with at least one nationally recognised qualification
    • You can continue your studies in an apprenticeship, all the way to Degree Level if you want to – so you won’t miss out on a degree!

    If you still aren’t sure about whether to do an apprenticeship, or to go on to Sixth Form College, that is OK! There is nothing stopping you from completing your A Levels, and then taking the apprenticeship pathway. The only difference is, instead of doing an Intermediate Apprenticeship, you could start on an Advanced, Higher, or Degree Apprenticeship.

    To find out more about the level of apprenticeship you could do, visit www.getingofar.gov.uk

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_Apprentice

    Pippa

  • Visit to Morgan Motors Company

    24th July 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    Morgan Motors Image

    A few months ago, I met with a very well-known British car manufacturing firm. The Morgan Motor Company was established in 1909 by HFS Morgan. The longest running model is the Morgan 4/4 which has been in constant production since 1936, while the recognisable Three Wheeler ceased production in the 1930’s and came back just a few years ago. Over 1300 vehicles are coach built every year at their premises in Malvern. The Classic Range of Morgan motor vehicles is the flagship, and engine sizes range from 1600cc to 4800cc.

    Succession planning is at the heart of Morgan Motor apprenticeships. Many of the operations during coach building the vehicle cannot be taught theoretically at college or university. These techniques are practically learnt over several years. Someone working in the Trim Shop, for example, will have completed a 5-year apprenticeship, instead of a standard 4-year apprenticeship, because there are no college courses on offer. “An apprenticeship allows maintaining these tradition skills” Sarah Baldwin, HR manager, told me during our meeting. This supports the workforce and allows them to diversify and mould the individual to the Morgan Motors style of thinking and working.

    Depending on the individual, and the occupation, Morgan tends to take their apprentices as far as they would like to go during their apprenticeship. An apprenticeship at Morgan will generally last 4 years, however, for the Trim Shop it tends to last 5 years. This is a big commitment from both the individual and the company, therefore Morgan aims to offer the apprentice a job at the end of their apprenticeship. Sarah liaises directly with colleges, and Warwickshire college has been great!

    Morgan Motors tend to look at the individual rather than their school grades. Obviously, you need the basics of Maths and English GCSE, but if you are enthusiastic, willing, and determined, these are characteristics that Morgan look for in a future employee. They also take on a record number of work experience students every year.

    Steve Morris, Managing Director of Morgan Motors, started his career as a Sheet Metal Apprentice at Morgan. His journey shows that there are so many benefits to starting at the bottom and working your way up, especially in a specialised company such as this. “We can teach anyone to do anything, but they must be committed. We take on apprentices with the vision that they will stay with us in the long run.” Sarah told me. This does mean that Morgan will not take on the same set number of apprentices every year though. Currently they have apprentices in the following departments:

    Sheet Metal Shop

    Machine Shop

    Wood Shop

    Trim Shop

    Painting Work Shop

    Accounts

    I was fortunate to meet one recently graduated apprentice, Sam Mackintosh. Sam always wanted to do a craft as a career. He applied for an apprenticeship at Morgan via an advert but was unsuccessful the first time. He went on to do a joinery course at college. Part way through this he was written to by Morgan inviting him for an interview. Sam was successful and started his apprenticeship as a wood work apprentice. Both his dad and grandad completed engineering apprenticeships. His family were completely supportive of his decision. After two years Sam swapped to finish his apprenticeship as a design engineer. His next step is to complete a degree at Wolverhampton University.

    “I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had chosen another pathway like pure academics” Sam told me.

    I also had the opportunity to meet a current apprentice in his third year of his four-year apprenticeship, Lewis Potter. Lewis used to walk past Morgan Motors every day after school. He met one of the Morgan employees at a school event and was invited to go on a Morgan tour at the factory. “I’ve always been more vocational. I could never sit behind a desk all day” Lewis told me. After the facility tour, over the next two years, Lewis would work up a very decent amount of work experience time at Morgan. An opening in the Painting department came about and Lewis was offered the apprenticeship.

    “My parents were totally supportive. My brother did well at college but mum and dad could see I was more practically minded” Lewis says. I good piece of advice that Lewis gave me was, you need to work from the base up. Start at the bottom, work hard, and eventually it will pay off.

    Something I found speaking to these young men was their determination. They were not just given something straight away. They both had to try more than once to get in. But they are proof that this hard work does pay off! As the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try again! Both young men understood that where you start is not necessarily where you end up. This is important, because you make your own future.

    If you are interested in applying for an apprenticeship at Morgan Motors, please email your CV and details over to Sarah Baldwin.

  • Visit to Green Lighting Ltd

    10th April 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    Green Lighting

    Last month I was invited to meet the team at Green Lighting in Worcester. They are great advocates of apprenticeships. To Green Lighting, an apprenticeship is seen as a way of furthering your education. When you are employed by Green Lighting, you are not seen, or viewed, as an apprentice, you are a full time employee who contributes to the business as much as everyone else.

    Jane, HR Director gave me a brief history of the company  “Green Lighting Ltd is independently owned, we began in 2000 with a workforce of two and have grown steadily to a team of Seventeen, including nine employees on apprenticeships. Green Lighting supply, design and manufacture low energy lighting, exceeding the requirements of current building regulations. Primarily we provide innovative products, cost effectively to the UK house builder via direct specification.  Being amongst the first companies to recruit staff through the original apprenticeship programmes, as primarily we required a workforce in a cost effective manner, with training in areas where we had a skills shortfall in order for the company to continue to grow.  Initially  the staff we employed were the traditional demographic of school leavers, however we soon recognised that established members of the team could take advantage of the apprenticeship framework to improve their skills set. Now a standard procedure within the company’s strategy and planning process, investing in training programmes for Green Lighting staff is key to the achievements of the business. Professional development is fundamental with each individual enrolled in some form of training to aid the business and their progression within it. Our training, learning and development approach is straightforward, all staff are offered some form of educational framework, to expand their skills, to develop expertise that will benefit them in their existing role, or diversify in to another area of the business.”

    The benefit of a skilled workforce who feel valued is a priceless asset to a small emerging business like Green Lighting. The decision for engaging in apprenticeships was based on that philosophy. The highlight for the business has been the retention, loyalty, and commitment from its young workforce through tough economic times. Staff who were employed as school leavers are progressing into management roles, continuing their education and bringing these skills to the business.

    Development of all staff has ensured that they realise their futures are entwined with the company’s increasing success and profitability. This is tangibly beneficial as they are able to progress into managerial roles increasing their earning potential significantly, a key motivator. Current apprenticeships undertaken are Warehousing & Logistics (Level 2), Sales (Level 3), Business (Level 4), Digital Media (Level 4 & 5), Accountancy & Team Leader (Level 3).

    The most important thing to have is enthusiasm for the role. However, typical qualifications required before applying to Green Lighting are the following: All are dependent on role and age but as a standard, you would need up to A Level or Level 3 for an Advanced Apprenticeship or GCSE’s for Warehousing at Level 2.

    The types of course you could do during your apprenticeship would be First Aid, Product Training, Health and Safety, and Risk Assessments.

    I spoke to a few of the apprentices to see why they started an apprenticeship and the support they were given from family and friends for choosing this pathway:

    Lauren, Business Development Leader, explained that she had started working as an apprentice at a small local company but felt there wasn’t a way of progressing within this company. She then found out about Green Lighting and decided to complete her apprenticeship there. When she first began her apprenticeship her family were sceptical but that soon changed when they realised that she was not only earning money and working, but also learning at the same time.

    I spoke with the guys in the Warehouse. They came from a variety of backgrounds. Some started working at Green Lighting straight from school, others already had a full time job but decided that they wanted to do something different with their careers. All of them, however, told me their families were fully supportive of their pathway choice.

    What I think is great about this is that it shows, no matter where start from, or what pathway you choose, it is never too late to decide to try an apprenticeship!

    If reading this post has gotten you interested in what Green Lighting have to offer, you can apply through Training Providers, the Apprenticeship Website – https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship, and the Green Lighting website – http://www.greenlighting.co.uk/contact/

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Successful people who started as an apprentice – Allan Cook, CBE

    3rd April 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    Allan Cook, CBE

    This week’s blog is dedicated to successful people who started their career pathway as an apprentice.

    There are many celebrities who started their pathway through an apprenticeship. This includes Jamie Oliver, Henry Ford, Alexander McQueen, Ross Brawn, Laurence Graff, and Karen Miller. These are people who have been successful in their field of work and have become recognised for the success achieved. There are, however, many more people who also started their career pathway through an apprenticeship, who have been just as successful in their chosen industry and led very interesting lives, but who may not be a household name because of the industry they work in.

    A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting Allan Cook, CBE, who is chairman of the Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance (SEMTA) and has led quite an incredible, and varied life. We met in March this year at the annual SEMTA skills awards show in London when he congratulated me on being awarded Best of British Engineering 2017.

    Allan started out as an electrical apprentice working for his father’s electronics firm after he left school aged 16. He had always been very practical and had enjoyed engineering, but also recognised a need to push himself forward into a career whilst continuing his education.

    Upon completion of his apprenticeship, and with the advice of a college tutor, Allan decided that he would pursue an Honours degree in Electronic Control Systems Engineering at Sunderland University. There were 22 people on the course, the majority of whom were in a similar position to Allan by way of industry experience and vocational qualifications achieved through an apprenticeship.

    Allan’s dad had a huge influence on him, he was a skilled craftsman and had a great work ethic. Three pieces of advice his dad had impressed on Allan from an early age were;

    1. Work hard and apply yourself. There are lots of smart people out there and the world is a competitive place so never stop learning.
    2. Make time and be enthusiastic when you speak with people. Always treat someone the way you wish to be treated.
    3. Never ever pass up an opportunity. It is always worth seeing where it takes you.

    Upon finishing university with a Second-Class Honours degree, Allan was offered three positions at firms around the country. He chose to work for electro-optics firm Ferranti, in Edinburgh. They were industry leaders of laser gyroscope electro-optics and it was really exciting, cutting edge, stuff!

    Since then Allan hasn’t looked back, he has held many titles at several different companies and institutions over the years. Managing Director of Bourns/PMI responsible for European Manufacturing and Sales. Head of Scottish Operation for Hughes Electronics. Chief Executive of Cobham from 2001 until 2009 where he became non-executive director of WS Atkins. Deputy chairman of Marshall of Cambridge (Holdings) Limited and a member of the operating executive board of J.F. Lehman & Company. He is chairman of the Skills & Jobs Retention Group, also lead non-executive member of the Departmental Board for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, and he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2008. He was chairman of UKTI’s Advanced Engineering Sector Advisory Board until October 2013. He is a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering where he is Vice President and serves as a trustee for the Academy. He also chairs the Academy’s employer-focused Diversity Leadership Group, part of the BIS STEM Diversity Programme.

    Allan credits a lot of his success to “right place, right time”. “I feel so lucky to have worked with the people and companies I have worked with over the years. The engineering I have been involved with, and the people I have met along the way are so cool! They do some amazing things. I’ve never felt like it has been work, I’ve always enjoyed it.”

    The advice Allan would give someone who is just beginning to take their first steps on the career path is, “Explore all opportunities out there, and there are loads of them! It is tiresome sometimes but be resolute in looking for what those opportunities may be. Absorb, and take on, as much advice as possible, from as many people as possible.”

    Having met Allan, and spoken with him over the phone, I can see why he has been so successful. Just talking with him you feel instantly engaged and hearing about his life has been inspirational. So to those of you out there who are not sure about which pathway to choose, and which to start down. Just know that an apprenticeship is only the beginning of your career. What an apprenticeship does is allow you to apply yourself, work hard, and with drive and determination, you will be in a much stronger position to be successful in your chosen industry.

    If you know someone who you feel has worked hard during their apprenticeship, and has gone above and beyond what is expected of them, nominate them at the next SEMTA skills awards 2018 later this year. Nominations will close end of November 2107 http://semta.org.uk/aboutus

    Allan Cook, Ann Watson at SEMTA awards

     

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Visit to Vax

    17th March 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    Vax

    Last month I was fortunate to visit Sabbah Wasim and the Customer Service Team at Vax in Droitwich.

    Established in 1977 by Alan Brazier, whose first invention was the forerunner to Vax’s iconic orange tub (made with a water heater, a shower pump, and a milk churn), today Vax is the UK’s best-selling floor care brand and is the only UK floor care specialist to offer a comprehensive range of carpet cleaners, upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners, cordless, steam, and hard floor cleaners to the consumer and commercial sectors.

    The company has grown rapidly over the last few years. Based at the Droitwich site are the Warehouse Operations, Supply Chain and the Customer Service departments.
    At the head office in Birmingham you will find the Human Resources, Marketing, and New Product Development departments, among others.

    Developing home-grown talent is a core belief at Vax and something they strive to continue year on year.
    Starting an apprenticeship in customer services is a great way to get a foothold in the company.
    It ensures that after they complete their apprenticeship, the graduated apprentice will always have the customer at the heart of their decision making.
    Sabbah understands that people will want to develop in the business and move on to other areas within the business but that is not seen as a bad thing at Vax. It simply means that the company has developed individuals with Vax values and the right ethos to take them as far as they wish to go. In this way, movement within the company is celebrated as a great success of the apprenticeship scheme.

    During their apprenticeship, apprentices will work in all areas of customer service.
    This includes the live agent chat team, the non-voice teams (answering emails and white mail), the inbound call service teams, and the business support teams. This gives the apprentices a wide range of transferrable skills for when they finish their apprenticeship, which can be applied to any industry. As an added incentive to continue their apprenticeship with Vax, apprentices are awarded a £500 bonus after their first year.
    Once they have completed their apprenticeship, as long as both the apprentice and company is happy with how the apprenticeship went, the apprentice is then offered a full time position at Vax in the Customer Service department should a vacancy be available.

    Lauren is an apprentice at Vax currently working within the live agent chat team. “When I first decided to apply for an apprenticeship after school, my grandma supported me with the application process. My mum was not so keen because she thought that the best way to get a good education was to go to college. During the application process Vax invited my mum, and other parents, to an open day so that they could get to know the company more and how the apprenticeship scheme would work.

    I actually applied for 3 or 4 different apprenticeships but only Vax got back in touch with me. I wouldn’t do anything differently though! I am in year 2 of 2 and completing my NVQ Level 3. It’s given me a great grounding in working in a business and what they expect of me.”

    Tom is another apprentice at Vax, currently in his first year and working within the live agent chat team. “My friend, who works at Vax and did an apprenticeship with them, referred me to their Resource Planning team. I applied and was successful.  My three older sisters, though, all went to university. Having said that, they, and my mum, were so supportive when I decided to apply. They all knew I would be good at an apprenticeship because they could see I wasn’t happy studying full time. I had previously completed my first year at Sixth Form College but wasn’t enjoying it. I took PE, Media, and Business Administration.

    I wouldn’t do anything differently if I had my time again! Generally as a customer you don’t ever see the side of customer service that I work in. You don’t realise how much is involved! It’s a great way to get a foothold in the business and industry.”

    If you would like to learn more about an apprenticeship at Vax, please visit their website here http://jobs.vax.com/jobs/department-apprentices/ and fill out the application form.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • National Apprenticeship Week 2017

    10th March 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    National Apprenticeship Week 2017, during its 10th annual celebration, brought together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the success of apprenticeships over the last decade and has encouraged even more people to choose apprenticeships as a brilliant choice of pathway to a great career.

    During this week, many different organisations, schools, and employers, helped to raise awareness that the time is right for the potential apprentices to get the skills they need for a great job, and for employers, how they could grow their own talent whilst developing the skilled and qualified workforce they need.

    Below is a little insight into how the most important week in the Apprentice Ambassador calendar has shaped up!

    Both last week and this week I travelled to local schools – Pershore High School and Hanley Castle – for talks on Apprenticeships. This was a great opportunity to speak with students from year 7 through to 13 about the different pathways available to them. Stephanie from JSC Rotational Ltd also told us her story about her own apprenticeship during the Pershore High School Assembly. Something I will always find fascinating is that everyone has their own apprenticeship story. They are all so different! Yet we are all working towards the same goals – wanting to gain a qualification whilst working on the job and learning the skills necessary in our chosen trade. Speaking in front of 300 students was daunting but we both felt that, by the end of the assembly, we had connected everyone there in one way or another.

    IMG_0293

    On Friday March 3rd Southco Manufacturing Ltd and I welcomed our local MP – Robin Walker for a Question and Answer with the Southco apprentices, and a facility tour of the manufacturing site. Robin is a former Parliamentary Apprentice Champion and has been involved in several apprentice events over the past few years, including a Skills Show held at the Worcestershire Guild Hall, and a “100 in 100” event held to promote apprenticeships through the Worcester news outlets. The apprentices were eager to discuss their own stories with Robin about their apprentice pathways. Robin was also keen to understand the support they received from family and friends, and their future aspirations within the business. Having visited the Worcester facility a number of years ago, Robin was impressed to see how it had adapted and changed to suit the needs of increased demand in capacity from a number of high value projects.

    IMG_0316

    The 3rd annual Worcester Skills show, during both National Apprenticeship Week and National Careers Week, was not to be missed this year. Bigger and better than ever, we saw over 1600 students from across the county come and take in all that Employers, Training Providers, and Colleges in Worcester had to offer. During the day, we saw many year 10 and 11 pupils interested in a wide variety of STEM subjects. The evening did not see an ebb in the flow of parents and pupils either. Industries were out in force and it was great to be a part of that with Southco Manufacturing Ltd. Jack Dennehy and Matt Davies were there from dusk until dawn showcasing what Southco had to offer. There were mock interviews throughout the afternoon and evening to help prepare students for their initial company interviews. All of the hard work put in by everyone at the Skills Show is just what World Class Worcester is all about.

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    Finally, in a previous blog I mentioned being a finalist for the prestigious National SEMTA awards 2017 in London. Being awarded not only Apprentice of the Year but also Best of British Engineering was a dream come true. A dream that I shared with all who had supported me through my apprenticeship and beyond. This was more than just winning an award. Wednesday night allowed hundreds of people from across the country to come together and celebrate what it means to be successful in STEM subjects and engineering. This industry is one of the backbones of Britain and it is up to each, and every, one of us to ensure that this industry stays strong and versatile during these very turbulent times.

    I would like to thank MBDA for sponsoring the Apprentice of the Year award, and SEMTA for organising the event. Massive thanks must also go to my team and support network. You know who you are and I wouldn’t have done this without you.

    So! It’s been a pretty busy National Apprenticeship Week 2017! The future of apprenticeships looks bright and I am proud to be part of this movement. Showing that no matter where you start, or what happens along the way, as long as you are enthusiastic, and enjoy what you do, you will succeed.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • National Apprenticeship Week 2017 & Training Providers

    1st March 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    WGTA Open Evening NAW_2017-Logo-10-year-anniversary

    I didn’t begin my apprenticeship thinking “I want to be apprentice of the year for Worcestershire”. I don’t think anyone begins their apprenticeship with that sole thought in mind; The Worcestershire Apprentice Awards didn’t even exist when I started my apprenticeship over 4 years ago. You start an apprenticeship because you don’t enjoy full time education anymore, because you don’t think you are going to get the grades to go to uni, or because you have a part time job and you enjoy earning a bit of money.

    Last week I was involved with a local training provider open evening. I had been invited along to share my experience of an apprenticeship with prospective apprentices and their parents. Hereford and Worcester Group Training Association (HWGTA) provide bespoke training for workplace competence and qualifications across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and further afield. They are financed and controlled by local companies. This means that their member companies decide how they want their training organisation to be run for maximum benefit to their businesses, employees, and the local community. With their expert staff and top class facilities, HWGTA can provide “off-site” training and “on site” support, brought together seamlessly into an effective training solution. This in turn produces employees who are skilled, motivated, and able to fit in easily to the work environment for which they have been trained.

    Having been awarded Ofsted Outstanding 2015/16, and with upwards of 150 annual applicants for only 40-50 places, this is a competitive environment for anyone considering applying to this provider.

    HWGTA are not the only training providers out there though! If you type in “Apprentice Training Providers Worcester” into your search engine, and click onto the worcsapprenticeships.org.uk/providers/ website, on there you can search any one of 47 different industries and find the training providers operating in that industry. There are, on average, 5 training providers per industry, so there is plenty to choose from.

    If you are considering an apprenticeship in Engineering, or Accountancy, my suggestion would be to start applying as soon as you can. Engineering and Accountancy tend to work with the calendar school year because at least one day a week will involve you participating in a part-time course at college or university. Apprenticeships in Warehousing, and Business Admin tend to be more flexible, so you can normally apply as, and when, you decide that this is the pathway you would like to pursue.

    I tried to stress three main points when speaking during the open evening :

    Be enthusiastic! Unfortunately not all employers can 100% guarantee you permanent employment after your apprenticeship. So rather than waiting until the end of your apprenticeship and asking your employer for a job, be enthusiastic, be pro-active, show that you are a valued member of the team, and when it comes to the end of your apprenticeship it’ll be your employer who comes to you and asks you to become a permanent member of staff.

    Enjoy what you do! 2-4 years is a long time to sign up to something. When I first started my apprenticeship I thought 4 years would take forever! But these 4 years have flown by…why? Because I really enjoy what I do. I enjoy working with the people I work with, I enjoy doing the work that I do, and I really have enjoyed doing my apprenticeship. Start to think about what you like to do. At the very least have a think about whether you could see yourself doing an apprenticeship for the next few years.

    There is no such thing as a silly question! Being an apprentice often means that your colleagues will expect you to have very little industry experience to begin with. That means you are in the best position, because you can ask any question and it will not be taken as a silly one. If you have been in higher education, there is an expectation that you have theoretical knowledge and you should know some answers already. Not as an apprentice though. So take advantage! Ask as many questions as possible.

    Next week is national Apprenticeship Week throughout the UK. Schools, and colleges around Worcestershire will be talking apprenticeships. There will be a Skills Show at Sixways Stadium that has been organised to get students and employers networking with one another. Come and see the industries you could be a part of. It is running from 8am-4pm for schools and colleges, and from 4pm-7pm for parents and students.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Visit to Yamazaki Mazak

    17th February 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    Mazak Company Visit

    I recently visited Dave Barnett – Learning and Development Manager, and Engineering Apprentices Steven and Mo (pictured above), at Yamazaki Mazak UK. Yamazaki Mazak are manufacturers of CNC machines, they are leaders in the manufacture of advanced technology solutions including Multi-tasking, 5-axis, milling, CNC controls, and automation.

    Developing engineers of the future is something Mazak take very seriously, they offer a comprehensive apprenticeship programme across a wide range of disciplines. This training package is designed to attract, train, and retain enthusiastic talent with fresh ideas. Knowing that their apprentices have been trained in the skills and most up to date knowledge relevant to the apprentice’s role is crucial in delivering quality products to Mazak’s future customers in a timely manner. In addition Mazak are always looking for managers and leaders of the future, and apprenticeship is a great way of spotting potential of the future.

    Apprenticeship schemes offer a number of different routes and qualifications, as with mist organisations no one size fits all. Apprenticeships allow the flexibility to train a diverse workforce against nationally recognised qualifications. Mazak offer business administration at levels two and three. For their production side they offer pathways in engineering / manufacturing in Mechanical, Electrical, Machining, and Sheet Metal at level three. The length of apprenticeship offered is dependent on pathway chosen. The business administration apprenticeship is completed over a two year period, and the production apprentices are between three and four years.

    Currently there are 56 apprentices enrolled on the scheme, and Mazak are looking to recruit a further 15-20 this year. For potential applicants, typical qualifications expected of you would be 5 GCSE’s at grade C or higher, including Maths and English. That said, all applicants are tested prior to being offered an apprenticeship which gives Mazak a better understanding of your strengths.

    The types of courses apprentices would be expected to complete during their apprenticeship is dependant of pathway chosen. However, all Health and Safety courses are mandatory. Mazak arrange for their suppliers to put on courses for their apprentices in their relevant areas. For future managers, Mazak offer leadership courses.

    I was given a tour of the facility by third year apprentice Steven Jones. He is completing a mechanical apprenticeship at Mazak and is currently working on one of the lines assembling part of one of many of the CNC machines produced by the UK facility. His uncle works at Mazak and before joining Steven had completed some photography work experience at the facility. Steven told me “my parents and sister struggled to support me when I first applied to Mazak to start my apprenticeship. My sister was studying at the sixth form college at the time. My family did not know much about apprenticeships but thought that A levels were the best way forward. Three years down the line and my parents are now trying to find an apprenticeship for my sister. They support my 100% and are very proud of what I have achieved. I wouldn’t change anything if I had my time again. This has been the best decision I’ve made.”

    During the facility tour I also met Mo who is a second year maintenance apprentice. Mo moved to the UK from Sudan a few years ago. He decided he wanted to become an engineer and that an apprenticeship was the best way to gain experience with on the job training.

    Both of these apprentices are extremely grateful of the opportunities given to them and it is obvious to me that they are making the most of their apprenticeship to ensure they have learnt as much as possible by the time they finish.

    If you would like to find out more about an apprenticeship at Yamazaki Mazak UK, please download and complete the application form found on the website www.mazakeu.co.uk, then go to the careers tab in the top right hand corner.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • SEMTA Skills Awards

    9th February 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    SEMTA

    I’ve only been interviewed on film once in my life. That was a case study for my Training Provider – Herefordshire and Worcestershire Group Training Association. If you search hard enough you’ll probably find it. At the time, being filmed did not come naturally to me. I guess for many other people it does.

    SEMTA –The Science, Engineering, Manufacturing Technologies Alliance, is a not-for-profit organisation responsible for engineering skills for the future of the UK’s most advanced sector. They are committed to inspiring the next generation of engineers, showcasing the best of British engineering talent and driving excellence in STEM teaching through The STEM Alliance, an innovative initiative which aligns further education with industry needs.

    One way SEMTA showcases the best of British engineering talent is to hold an awards evening each year to celebrate this talent across nine different categories. From Training Provider of the Year, Skills Champion of the Year, to Graduate of the Year and, you guessed it! Apprentice of the Year!

    Back in November my Training Office – Grahame, suggested I enter the awards for Apprentice of the Year. To my astonishment, in December, I got a call from Megan who is the events coordinator at SEMTA. She rang me to say that I had been selected as a finalist for the Apprentice of the Year award. WOW – just WOW!

    To know that out of hundreds of applicants, the judges saw my application and thought “She’s got what we are looking for” is amazing. I think it’s a hard task to get to know what someone is really like just through a piece of A4 paper. This is where the filming comes in… As part of being selected as a finalist, and to aid your application for the final round of judging, you need to be filmed. This is to bring your written entry to life and showcase your dedication to skills. So, on the January 25th it was my turn to host the film makers, Dave and Derek. Dave and Derek work at Eclipse Communications in Redditch. On their second to last day of a 2000-mile film trip, they met me bright and early at Southco Manufacturing. I’d been rehearsing my answers for days. What came down to probably less than an hour’s filming would then be condensed by Dave and Derek to only 4 minutes of film.

    It is difficult to get the courage to enter yourself in a competition like this. It helps immeasurably to have people supporting you. I was very fortunate to have Southco Manufacturing and Worcester Group Training Association supporting me throughout this process. But I feel we need to look at the bigger picture. This kind of award gives you opportunities you never thought you had before. It allows you to reflect on what you have done, and what you still want to do. It gives other young people something to aim for. Sometimes all you need is to know it is achievable, no matter where you start from.

    I’ve always seen myself as a problem solver. Often engineering is all about problem solving. You don’t have to be academic to be good at it. Take R J Mitchell for example. His father was a railway clerk and the family lived in the slums of Liverpool before the second world war. Mitchell was a bright student but his parents couldn’t afford to give him a good education. After leaving school he didn’t go to university, but instead served an apprenticeship. He then became a design engineer and was the Chief Engineer behind the design of the Spitfire. The Wright Brothers are another fantastic example of success through the desire to do better and problem solve. Farming boys from deep in the heart of the USA. They both served apprenticeships and went on to invent the first flying machine! Much of what they developed back then, we still use today.

    What I’m saying is you don’t need to do a full time degree or higher education to be a good engineer. One thing we all have in common is a curiosity and desire to problem solve. To make something work better. This is why an apprenticeship is the next step – earn while you learn. This award isn’t just about the privileged few. We are all here, we all enjoy what we do, we are growing in number, and we should all be recognised for our achievements – big and small! Bring on the 8th March!

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Visit to Matthews Construction

    3rd February 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    Pip @ Matthews ConstructionMatthews Construction

    I recently had a meeting with Jenny, Rob, and Sue at Matthews Construction. Last year they won Worcestershire’s Small Employer of the Year. Through this blog you will definitely be able to see why this was the case, and the ambition that this family run company has for the future development of young people in this industry. Prior to this I knew little of the construction industry and the types of apprenticeship available to young people seeking this pathway as a career choice. I have to say though, I feel that after just having spoken for an hour with Jenny, Sue, and Rob, my eyes have been well and truly opened!

    Matthews Construction was formed in 2004.  There are currently 4 directors, 3 of which qualified for their trades studying and training as apprenticeships.  Matthews Construction is a multi-award winning company, having just won the Worcestershire apprenticeship employer of the year 2016.

    The company has grown considerably over the last few years and now employ in excess of 15 direct employees as well as approximately 50 subcontractors. The works carried out started off as small residential extensions and quickly moved onto larger commercial buildings.  One completed commercial building was the Cobb House on the outskirts of Worcester. The company now specialise in the construction of innovative, high quality, sustainably designed residential dwelling and are about to commence their largest project to date, a gated Georgian Square in the heart of Worcester.

    One of the first things Rob, Construction Director, said to me during our meeting was, “The best way to learn is to get hands on experience doing the job. We believe that the key to a successful project is liaising with our clients at all stages of construction and ensuring communication is at the heart of the partnership. Our team have the relevant training, qualifications and experience to carry out their jobs efficiently, effectively and to the highest standard.”

    Part of the ethos at Matthews Construction is ensuring that apprentices are “buddied up” and train with colleagues who have decades worth of experience. A young person, although lacking industry knowledge, is both keen and physically able to do the work. Their mentor, although full of industry knowledge, is perhaps not as physically capable of doing the work as they once were. This has been proven as a powerful teaching style through the sheer number of successful apprenticeships completed by young men over the years at the company.

    The apprenticeship lasts 2 years but possibly longer should the apprentice wish to continue to higher levels. During their time as an apprentice, the student will learn multiple disciplines including First Aid at Work, Health and safety awareness, toolbox talks, working at height, any machinery usage ie. Paslode Guns etc. The typical qualifications expected of applicants is three GCSE’s A-C. But other than that, a willingness to learn and being enthusiastic about a job in construction is a great starting block.

    Rob uses the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and local colleges to find out if they have any students who would be the right fit for the company. Currently they have 7 apprentices, two are just coming to the end of their apprenticeships, two  are sub-contractor apprentices, and three are still in training within the company. I asked a couple of them some questions around their pathway choices;

    Jarrel, Apprentice Carpenter, “My dad told me all about apprenticeships and that they were a great option if I was to learn whilst earning. My college offered the hard working students help to find an apprenticeship and it went on from there. Dad influenced me to do the apprenticeship. He thought it was the best thing to do after school. Even though I didn’t have the best grades at school I wouldn’t change anything as I have managed to be more successful than most of my school friends and I’ve settled into a great company!”

    Luke, Apprentice Joiner, “I  wanted to learn a trade whilst getting paid at the same time. My mum and dad influenced me in getting an apprenticeship so I could start a career whilst earning money. I wouldn’t do anything different because I reckon an apprenticeship is the best way to start a career.”

    After having spent time understanding this business and their dedication and work ethic, I can see why it won Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2016. This is a great company of choice to complete an apprenticeship with and I wish everyone at Matthews Construction all the best in the future.

    If you want to find out more about a pathway in the construction industry, visit www.citb.co.uk for more information.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Apprentices in Business hosted by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce

    31st January 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    AiB Photo 1 AiB Photo 2 AiB Photo 3

    “The young people in this room, you are the future of business. You will be our future business leaders and owners.”

    This was part of the speech Mike Ashton – CEO of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, gave to a group of 40 or so apprentices and young professionals on January 25th at the first Apprentices in Business (AiB) Event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. AiB is a free event which takes place on the last Wednesday of every other month to inspire young professionals to network with other apprentices and local businesses. Each event will have a relevant theme and speaker to motivate and develop individuals in their careers. I found out about the AiB event through a local newsletter and through my HR Manager at work.

    This month’s key speaks were Mike Ashton and Kim Cook. Kim is the Managing Director of the Worcestershire Training Provider Association (WTPA). WTPA are a not-for-profit network of training providers, Further Education Colleges, and voluntary/third sector organisations delivering Apprenticeships, Traineeships, and Study Programmes for adults and young people in Worcestershire.

    The AiB event allowed the 40 of us apprentices and young professionals to network with one another and learn more from Kim about Degree and Higher Apprenticeships. When I started my apprenticeship four years ago, Degree Apprenticeships were not really available or easily accessible. Once your level three apprenticeship was completed, and if both you and your employer were keen to continue your development to degree level, then this was the best way of studying for a degree.

    That has all changed! There are companies who now offer apprenticeships straight at degree level. This movement shows just how much companies are starting to consider apprenticeships at all levels, not just your basic level two and three’s anymore. The value of apprenticeships is climbing, and my hope is that you grab a hold and climb with it.

    If you are an apprentice or young professional, between the age of 18 and 24, and you would like to give networking and learning about local businesses a go, then I strongly suggest you come along to the next AiB event on March 29th. I went along by myself and found everyone was easy to talk to. If you have some apprentices at work who would also be keen to get involved, bring them along! Did I mention the food and drinks are free?!

    A massive thank you to Abi, Lauren and Yasmin for organising the event, and the team building activity. I’m already looking forward to next time and what you have in store for us!

    If you would like to find out more about the Apprentices in Business events and how to get involved, visit hwchamber.co.uk/events/apprentice-in-business

     

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Visit to St Augustine’s with Helena Baxter

    27th January 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    St Augustine's with Helena Baxter

    I play hockey for Hereford Ladies 2nd Team. The club also has a couple of men’s teams. A friend of mine, who plays for the men’s 1st team has just recently come back from University. He graduated with a Marine Biology Degree. Now, I’m not sure you know where Hereford is, but I can tell you it is about as far from Marine Life as you could possibly be. He’s now back in Hereford, applying for jobs, and is really struggling to find anything in his field of study…shock! If he decides to pursue work in Marine Biology he will need to move away from family, fund himself, and move to the coast. But in the meantime he is stuck at home looking for any kind of job to tie him over. No jobs of which have any relevance to his degree.

    This is the story I told to a group of year 12 and 13’s at St Augustine’s Catholic High School And Sixth Form Centre in Redditch earlier this week. I was there to help promote Higher and Degree Apprenticeships with Helena Baxter. Through initiatives like “Meet the Apprentice” and “Apprenticeships Made Easy”, Helena helps schools to prepare students for the world of work. The workshop she gave the year 12 and 13’s was to develop a full understanding of Apprenticeship programmes, personal and communication skills, better performance at interviews, and knowledge of Apprenticeship local job opportunities.

    I was there as Apprentice Ambassador for Worcester. After the story about my friend and his trials to find a job in his chosen field of study, I then went on to tell my own story. A story of how I came to choose my pathway – not being happy at college and wanting to look for other pathways than just going to university, of the ups and downs during my apprenticeship – The ups – being hired in the first place. The downs – being made redundant. The ups again – being hired a second time to complete my apprenticeship, and finally successfully completing my apprenticeship, and what I plan on doing next – applying for internal roles at Southco Manufacturing to take the next steps into the engineering sector.

    Something I tried to show the group of students sitting in front of me was the enthusiasm I had for my apprenticeship. Enthusiasm got me my first interview, enthusiasm got me my second interview, and hopefully enthusiasm is what will help me to be successfully offered a new position at Southco. The truth is, enthusiasm is infectious, and I really hoped I was able to enthuse at least some of the students in that room, so that they would seriously consider an apprenticeship as just as good a pathway as alternative higher education routes.

    An apprenticeship is what you make of it. Compared to when I first started looking for an apprenticeship, there is so much more available now. You can do degree apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships across a wide range of industry sectors, rather than the advanced apprenticeship I was offered. Doing an apprenticeship means you don’t pay anything for your education! In fact, you get paid to do further education!

    One young person we met wanted to do accountancy and I got an email from Helena to say that she has found the young person an apprenticeship in Bromsgrove. This really proves how the Hub and Clearing House really is working, and how quickly it is working.

    I look forward to the next session with Helena and hopefully inspiring more students to take the pathway I chose four years ago.

    If you would like to find out more about Apprenticeships near you, visit www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship or head to www.getingofar.gov.uk

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Statistics Behind Apprenticeships

    17th January 2017 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    statistics

    I read an article in The Engineer recently, “Unlocking engineering’s appeal to girls by Stuart Nathan”. One piece of information caught my eye; only 4% of engineering apprentices are women. As a woman who has just finished their engineering apprenticeship, this statistic shocked me. This means that, per statistics, in a group of 15 engineering apprentices, only one is a woman. Often I think that because we have become so used to hearing statistics, we become immune to what it is they mean, and the power that they have.

    Having said that, during my apprenticeship, out of roughly 77 engineering students at my local training provider, Hereford & Worcester Group Training Association, only 4 women started an engineering apprenticeship. Of those 4, only 2 completed their apprenticeship. Of the 77 students, 67 completed their apprenticeship, 7 did not finish their apprenticeship, and 3 are still working on their apprenticeship to finish their framework.

    I am not disputing what Stuart Nathan is stating by any means, but I wanted to find out for myself whether “4% of apprentices are female” could be the case. I typed in “percentage of female engineering apprentices” into a search engine and several in depth reports from a few years ago jumped out at me.

    Top of the list…the Woman’s Engineering society with some interesting statistics. “In 2013/14, women accounted for only 3.8% of Engineering apprenticeship starts and 1.7% of Construction Skills starts.” I am hoping that three years on, we would see a rise from 3.8%. Much more information came up during my search. This included information on apprenticeships in general, in roles and vacancies in engineering sectors, STEM subjects and the influential roles of parents, teachers, and careers advisors.

    By not going into too much detail, the feeling I got was that by 2022, if things didn’t change soon, the engineering and STEM sectors were going to be in real trouble. This, however, is where organisations such as Worcester Local Enterprise Partnership, and Worcester County Council, started to make a difference. These organisations are working with schools, training providers, and companies to try and turn this set of events around. But they cannot do this alone. They require input from students, schools, and industry alike.

    As a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent, teacher, careers advisor, employer, or member of government, surely it is also your duty to help inform the next generation of both boys and girls that a career in engineering, or any other industry, is attractive and obtainable? Is it unreasonable to say that it is you who can show them the different ways of getting into engineering and other industries, be it via an apprenticeship, further education, or higher education?

    Something I feel also needs to be addressed is the information students are receiving before they decide on their apprenticeship pathway. Perhaps some reasons behind only 67 out of 77 students finishing their apprenticeship in my year was that they were disillusioned about what they were letting themselves in for, or they could not easily pull out all the facts before deciding on an apprenticeship. In a 2015 document “ Careers Guidance and Inspiration in Schools” was published by the Department for Education. In this it states that “High quality, independent careers guidance is also crucial in helping pupils emerge from school more fully rounded and ready for the world of work.” It also states that schools should “Widen access to advice on options available post-16, for example, apprenticeships, entrepreneurialism or other vocational routes alongside the more traditional A levels and university route. This should also be giving other post-16 providers opportunities to engage with pupils on school premises.”

    But perhaps we should be considering targeting children pre-16 with non-biased, well-rounded careers advice. At a younger age, children, and their parents, are potentially more receptive to the idea of apprenticeships. Also, if children start to pick up this terminology at an earlier age, it becomes second nature to speak about it at school with their friends.

    So now it is up to you, I’d like you to think about your friends, students, and children. Are they getting the best information they can to make their future career choice? Maybe there is something you can do to help further the cause for the next generation of engineer.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

     

    Some useful links to reports and websites about apprenticeships in England can be found below:

    http://www.wes.org.uk/statistics

    http://www.engineeringuk.com/EngineeringUK2015/EngUK_Report_2015_Interactive.pdf

    https://www.theengineer.co.uk/unlocking-engineerings-appeal-to-girls/

  • Company Visit – Southco Manufacturing

    19th December 2016 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    group
    This week’s blog is dedicated to my first company visit – Southco Manufacturing! I’d like to give you an insight into the company that took me on to complete my apprenticeship. Over the next 12 months, through this blog, together we will visit various companies offering apprenticeships throughout Worcestershire. Understanding how both the company, and their apprentices, value apprenticeships.

    Southco Manufacturing Limited is part of a Global organisation employing over 3,500 people worldwide. We have two sites in the UK one in Worcester (350 people) and the other in Farnham, Surrey (115 people). Southco Manufacturing is the world leader in the design and manufacture of latches and access hardware with a client list of major companies in most industrial sectors.

    The pathways we offer are both craft and technical within many of our engineering and manufacturing departments, inclusive of, but not limited to, the tool room, quality, and design. These will last for between two and four years, depending on the level of apprenticeship offered. We currently employ 11 apprentices and the typical qualifications expected of you would depend on the type of apprenticeship you are looking for. From at least three C’s at GCSE including English and Maths for NVQ level 3, to A Levels or equivalent for higher apprenticeships. You will undertake at least one of the following courses during your apprenticeship; BTec, HNC, or HND as well as NVQ Level 2 & 3 in Manufacturing/Mechanical Engineering. To apply for an apprenticeship with us is mainly through our training providers, who advertise on our behalf through the government website.

    From what I have seen at Southco Manufacturing, apprentices can be the future pipeline of technical resources in the business. Through this experience, I’ve seen that apprentices can move through the business with great success. There is a supportive culture of learning and development and an established apprenticeship programme in the UK which enables individuals to grow and learn from experts in their chosen field. I for example, have taken on further study to become a graduate and have the added advantage of understanding how the company works, its ethos, and learning new skills on the job as I study.

    I also managed to get some time with a few of our apprentices to see what they think of apprenticeships and why they chose this pathway.

    Jack Dennehy, Design Engineering Apprentice, had this to say about apprenticeships, “You need to have an idea of what you would like to pursue as a career. An apprenticeship usually focuses on a specific area within industry i.e. Manufacturing Engineering, Design Engineering, etc. For me, being an apprentice is fantastic! I spend my time learning about my chosen industry and focusing on parts of the job I would like to specialise in. Not only this, I work in the “real world” so am developing a broader knowledge base which helps when doing my part-time studies. I am currently studying a Mechanical Engineering Higher National Certificate. This relates well to my current job role.”

    Matthew Davies, Manufacturing Apprentice, had the following reason for why he decided to follow this pathway, “While completing a Level 3 Engineering BTEC, and searching for a full time job, all the companies wanted at least 3-4 years’ experience, which I didn’t have. I wanted to start earning money as I was 17 years old, and learning to drive, so I looked into different apprenticeships and found all sorts of jobs at different levels that I could do.”

    Charlie Stainforth, Operational Excellence Apprentice, feels that “100% yes, an apprenticeship is worth completing over another pathway. You are getting the best of both! You’re gaining a qualification, which is what you get if you go to university, but also getting paid and gaining work experience, which you would get if you left college and went straight into work.

    When Andrew Higginson, Tool Room Apprentice, was asked whether he would have done anything differently he said “The only thing would have been to have started my apprenticeship earlier. Starting down this pathway is one of the best things I have done with my life. I did A Levels in Computing, Business Studies, and IT. I found that school was always university focused. One of my friends went from school straight into an apprenticeship at 16. He has now finished his apprenticeship, while I am just starting mine, he has a Higher National Certificate, and he is getting job offers from lots of companies via sites like LinkedIn.”

    Southco is one of many local companies throughout Worcestershire offering apprenticeship pathways. I hope that by giving you an insight into this business, and it’s apprentices, you feel motivated in investigating pathways into apprenticeships a little more than before you started reading this blog.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • Company Visit – Southco Manufacturing

    19th December 2016 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    group

    This week’s blog is dedicated to my first company visit – Southco Manufacturing! I’d like to give you an insight into the company that took me on to complete my apprenticeship. Over the next 12 months, through this blog, together we will visit various companies offering apprenticeships throughout Worcestershire. Understanding how both the company, and their apprentices, value apprenticeships.

    Southco Manufacturing Limited is part of a Global organisation employing over 3,500 people worldwide.  We have two sites in the UK one in Worcester (350 people) and the other in Farnham, Surrey (115 people). Southco Manufacturing is the world leader in the design and manufacture of latches and access hardware with a client list of major companies in most industrial sectors.

    The pathways we offer are both craft and technical within many of our engineering and manufacturing departments, inclusive of, but not limited to, the tool room, quality, and design. These will last for between two and four years, depending on the level of apprenticeship offered. We currently employ 11 apprentices and the typical qualifications expected of you would depend on the type of apprenticeship you are looking for. From at least three C’s at GCSE including English and Maths for NVQ level 3, to A Levels or equivalent for higher apprenticeships. You will undertake at least one of the following courses during your apprenticeship; BTec, HNC, or HND as well as NVQ Level 2 & 3 in Manufacturing/Mechanical Engineering. To apply for an apprenticeship with us is mainly through our training providers, who advertise on our behalf through the government website.

    From what I have seen at Southco Manufacturing, apprentices can be the future pipeline of technical resources in the business. Through this experience, I’ve seen that apprentices can move through the business with great success. There is a supportive culture of learning and development and an established apprenticeship programme in the UK which enables individuals to grow and learn from experts in their chosen field. I for example, have taken on further study to become a graduate and have the added advantage of understanding how the company works, its ethos, and learning new skills on the job as I study.

    I also managed to get some time with a few of our apprentices to see what they think of apprenticeships and why they chose this pathway.

    Jack Dennehy, Design Engineering Apprentice, had this to say about apprenticeships, “You need to have an idea of what you would like to pursue as a career. An apprenticeship usually focuses on a specific area within industry i.e. Manufacturing Engineering, Design Engineering, etc. For me, being an apprentice is fantastic! I spend my time learning about my chosen industry and focusing on parts of the job I would like to specialise in. Not only this, I work in the “real world” so am developing a broader knowledge base which helps when doing my part-time studies. I am currently studying a Mechanical Engineering Higher National Certificate. This relates well to my current job role.”

    Matthew Davies, Manufacturing Apprentice, had the following reason for why he decided to follow this pathway, “While completing a Level 3 Engineering BTEC, and searching for a full time job, all the companies wanted at least 3-4 years’ experience, which I didn’t have. I wanted to start earning money as I was 17 years old, and learning to drive, so I looked into different apprenticeships and found all sorts of jobs at different levels that I could do.”

    Charlie Stainforth, Operational Excellence Apprentice, feels that “100% yes, an apprenticeship is worth completing over another pathway. You are getting the best of both! You’re gaining a qualification, which is what you get if you go to university, but also getting paid and gaining work experience, which you would get if you left college and went straight into work.

    When Andrew Higginson, Tool Room Apprentice, was asked whether he would have done anything differently he said “The only thing would have been to have started my apprenticeship earlier. Starting down this pathway is one of the best things I have done with my life. I did A Levels in Computing, Business Studies, and IT. I found that school was always university focused. One of my friends went from school straight into an apprenticeship at 16. He has now finished his apprenticeship, while I am just starting mine, he has a Higher National Certificate, and he is getting job offers from lots of companies via sites like LinkedIn.”

    Southco is one of many local companies throughout Worcestershire offering apprenticeship pathways. I hope that by giving you an insight into this business, and it’s apprentices, you feel motivated in investigating pathways into apprenticeships a little more than before you started reading this blog.

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • The start of a 12 month journey

    12th December 2016 Pippa Dressler Pearson

    introduction-blog-photo

    Apprentice of the Year. A very broad title, but what does this actually mean? Well, I’d like to introduce myself, give you a brief history of my pathway choice, and what the next twelve months will have in store for us.

    I went to High School in Hereford where I completed my GCSE’s.  Upon leaving school I decided I wanted to give Sixth Form a try.  I chose to do A Levels in Mathematics, German, Business Studies, and Physics. After my first year I found that Physics wasn’t for me so I dropped the subject and continued with the others.

    During college our tutors wanted us to start the university application process.  We also had meetings with our careers adviser to explore other pathways.  I didn’t really want to go to university because I didn’t think my grades would be good enough and I wasn’t keen on paying the higher university fees.  After a meeting with my careers adviser I decided to see what apprenticeships were about and maybe apply to some training providers.  I went home and spoke with mum and dad.  Luckily they were very supportive, and that helped me make the decision in applying to the local Training Provider – Hereford & Worcester Group Training Association (H/WGTA).

    I applied and was successfully offered an apprenticeship with a manufacturer in Malvern – Dytecna Ltd.  I started my four year engineering apprenticeship in September 2012.  I spent my first year with H/WGTA, where I completed my NVQ Level 2 in Mechanical Engineering.  At the same time, I attended college one day per week studying a BTEC National Diploma in Engineering Manufacturing.

    Fast forward a few years, I was made redundant from Dytecna because the company went into administration. I found that Southco Ltd in Worcester were offering apprenticeships, and fortunately they offered me a place to continue my apprenticeship and finish it. During this time I finished my BTEC level 3, a Foundation Degree and an NVQ Level 3.

    My role at Southco is design engineering apprentice. We manufacture Access Hardware. This is anything from the glove box latch in your car, the security lock in a data storage cabinet, plus much more. My role includes the modification of these products. A customer can come to us with a requirement for a different colour, or head style, of latch. This is the type of project that I design and manage. I also help with any technical support queries customers and colleagues may have. It often takes a vast amount of product knowledge to answer these questions, and this is something I am getting better at, the more I do.

    I also found when  first starting to use the systems and software that Southco use it wasn’t easy to pick it up quickly. I decided that it would be helpful for future apprentices and new-starters if they had a guide book that they could use for quick, easy steps to help them through their first weeks on the job. So I created a guide book which was published on our internal database.

    Over the course of the next 12 months it is my intention to help you in understanding what apprenticeships are about, the events that you can get involved with, and the types of companies in Worcestershire that offer apprenticeships in all industries. I would like to broaden your choice of pathway so that when you come to finishing school, college, or if you just want to start in a new industry, you feel you are informed in deciding on where your pathway will take you next.

    The future looks bright for apprentices across all industries.  I think that anyone can do an apprenticeship, whether you actually enjoy studying, or whether you don’t enjoy studying, an apprenticeship works both ways.  It is important to think of an apprenticeship as a stepping stone to help push you forward.  You won’t be an apprentice forever, but when you come out of the other side, you will really feel you have achieved so much.

    Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Pippa

  • The Next Chapter

    18th November 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Last night officially marked the end of an amazing 12 months as I passed my crown over to the much deserved Pippa from Southco Ltd. Once again Worcestershire Apprenticeships and all those involved threw an incredible night to celebrate the talent in our county. Since meeting the team last year, I saw first hand across schools, potential apprentices, apprentices and employers, the huge passion and belief in the scheme and I could not feel any prouder for being a part of it. It honestly makes me so proud to have grown up in Worcestershire and had the opportunities to work with such brilliant individuals, it now only seems fair to mention those people..

    Firstly, a MASSIVE shout out to all at TDM Wyre Academy whom I started my journey with. Anne Pilsworth acting as my fairy godmother from the very start. As Anne and my employer would recall (and continue to remind me!), I wasn’t completely convinced I’d made the right decision on my first day of enrollment. Anne was the one who told me to stick with it and I thank god I listened to her! Thank you to Tabi for being a supportive mentor through my Level 3 whilst I was with TDM. Congratulations to Derrin and the team for being shortlisted last night, not surprising!

    Next, there are people who have looked after me since I was crowned last year. Helena Baxter is honestly one of the most humble people I have met and has given so much to so many people. Having spent some time with her whilst on a school visit, she really does fly the flag for apprenticeships and she is someone I would aspire to be. Jennie Leeson for helping me every step of the way! Nothing has ever been too much trouble and she has been my go-to for anything and everything. I’m sorry for the constant back and forth emails Jennie but it’s only because I want to talk to you!

    Now… A special thank you to my main man, Matt Tope. I adore you! I could not have asked for a better guy to have guided me through this experience and if he thought he was getting rid of me, he thought wrong! For those who don’t know, I can be quite shy and Matt through all the different videos, interviews etc, has kept me calm and cool for the cameras. I am almost a pro now! Matt has been another catalyst to me gaining confidence and has enabled me to do the things that I have done. Although I was never given the tiara I requested from Matt 12 months ago, I can let him off because he has given me so much more and I could not thank you enough. I still haven’t forgiven you for filming my parents and not warning me mind!

     

    My parents. 3 years ago they weren’t completely sold on the apprenticeship scheme but now, due to my successes, they are completely on board. They have almost become apprenticeship ambassadors themselves! Since leaving university without a degree, I felt insecure and uncertain about my future and my parents were always there to support whatever decision I made. I wanted my apprenticeship to not only work for me but to make them proud, something which hits a massive nerve for me. For those in attendance last night, you would have seen the video of my parents and I could not hold back the tears. I could not have done this without them.

    Whilst my title is handed over, my work here is certainly not done. My apprenticeship has given me so much, especially over the last 12 months. It therefore only seems like my duty to help others and give back to a scheme that has been so rewarding to me.

    So that’s it. Good luck to Pippa, I’m sure you’ll smash it! If your next 12 months are anything like my title reign, you’re in good hands and it is just the start of a completely new chapter to your career.

    Thank you for reading! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

  • #WLEP16

    4th November 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    It was an absolute pleasure to be personally invited to the sixth Annual Conference of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, which saw hundreds and hundreds of people all across the county attending! This was a great opportunity to hear first hand on how Worcestershire is being developed into a creative, connected and dynamic county. Personally, I was most looking forward to how we invest in the future, particularly our future workforce such as apprentices. The free breakfast and lunch was a bonus of course! 🐷

    On attending the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards last year, I was taken aback on the statistics of the growth of workforce skills. Today, it was reported that out of all the LEPs, Worcestershire had the strongest growth in higher level workforce skills. This hard work must come down to the dedicated employers, training providers and the work in which Worcestershire Apprenticeships and CSAB have been doing!

    During the presentation regarding apprenticeships, I was slightly embarrassed to find that the LEP had used photographs and a video of me speaking about my experiences. Cheers for the heads up guys! I felt myself sink slowly under the table. 😳 Having your face blown up on a massive screen in front of 500 or so people doesn’t sit comfortably with me!

    Events such as this just reiterates how proud I am to not only have grown up in Worcestershire but have decided to study an apprenticeship. The end of the conference further celebrated those who have contributed to the county in it’s growth and contribution, this included ‘school of the year’ and ‘outstanding contribution for volunteering’. Massive congratulations for St Augustine’s school in Redditch and to Helena Baxter. Having worked with both, it was completely deserved! Well done to all the others which picked up an award also.

    Check me out with Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP- Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove!!

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • It’s All About To Change…

    25th August 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Sixth Form? Work? Or an Apprenticeship? These are some of the next steps after collecting your GCSE Results. The issue that I had found (8 YEARS AGO!!) was it was easy to be swayed by the choices that your friendship group were making. At this point, I knew I would be going to university due to my siblings following this path, so the obvious decision was to stay on at my high school to study A Levels. Luckily enough for me, the majority of my friends were staying put. 

    We all get worried about the results in the envelope, however, what I hadn’t anticipated was how overwhelmed and upset people were getting over this change. Over half of my year were not staying on, 1929826_42487295219_7573_neither opting for employment or specialist college. From my experiences with speaking with students is that things have changed a lot since I was in this position. Apprenticeships are being embraced by different sectors, employers and students which is amazing! Back in 2008, this was pretty much a non-existent option with the perception being that apprenticeships were only offered for those wishing to pursue a career in engineering!

    We celebrated our GCSE results, as our year had surpassed expectations on the pass rates (we were troublesome!). Our summer ball was at Worcester Racecourse and it was probably the first time any of us had properly bothered to make ourselves up in front of each other. For me, it was even stranger given I lived in sports kit, never wore make up/curled my hair or wore a dress. You girls have it lucky as 16 year olds, we had it tough in our day! Our era embraced the Bench coats, hideous heavy make-up, hair extensions where you could see the clips and we’d moved away from the bulky Pod school shoes into the dolly shoe, Sony Ericsson and Motorola’s phones were deemed cool. The day after the ball, we had to go into school wearing what we’d wore the night before. And the floodgates opened….

    I believe it to still be the case that things change at this age and the quite scary decision of where you go next can make a massive impact on your future. My decision enabled me to go onto a Level 3 apprenticeship, even though I applied for one years later.

    Whatever decision people make today following their results, your future path can always alter. Do not be influenced by what other people want to do. Go for what you want to do. If you’re stuck, do not panic! There is enough support and advice, especially from the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Hub on your options.

    Well Done to everyone today I hope you got what you hoped for!

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • Results Day….

    18th August 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    44749_419610880422_6865315_nToday is the big day! Good Luck to everyone collecting their A Level results! For those that receive the results that they weren’t hoping for, DO NOT PANIC! This isn’t the end of the world and there is always a range of options, whether it is retaking, clearing or (and I wish I’d gone for this option sooner!) an apprenticeship. Going back 6 years, my day was a whirlwind of emotions…

    Prior to completing my exams (IT, PE and Art), I had my heart set on moving away and going to University. Finally deciding on reading Sports Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Massage at University Wales Institute Cardiff (UWIC).  I was soo excited to be leaving behind Evesham (nothing wrong with the  place but I wanted a change!) and having some independence. I needed to get 320 (old tariff) UCAS points and was unbelievably nervous that I wouldn’t get these grades (although I was a nightmare at school, I actually worked really hard!). On results day, a couple of weeks after my 18th Birthday, my mum drove me and my best friend (Jamie) to our high school to collect our grades. Jamie seemed really confident and it was no surprise really, the kid is an absolute genius and one of those really annoying people that wouldn’t have to study to get an A…I, on the other hand was a state. UWIC had such a good reputation with even my PE teachers studying their years before.

    We entered the sports hall with tables upon tables covered in envelopes laid out in alphabetical order by our surnames. I was literally shaking and struggling to find ‘Rawlings’. My PE teachers came over to give me a hug and my results. I went into a corner and nervously opened the letter. I was actually surprised at my grades, receiving a ‘A B B’ but had a panic that this wasn’t enough. The PE staff came over and said ‘Congratulations, you’ve got into UWIC’ but I wasn’t convinced. A Connexxtions officer grabbed me to find a computer where I could access my UCAS account to see if UWIC had submitted a welcome letter.

    I have never been the most patient of people and this was testing waiting for the sign in page to hurry up! I don’t know if this was due to the mass of students logging in but it felt like a lifetime away! And there it was… ‘Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into University Wales Institute of Cardiff’. The Connexxtions officer hugged and congratulated me but I was in shock and trying not to cry in front of this complete stranger!

    I began walking back to the sports hall to tell everyone the good news, with my phone beeping like mad from family and friends (I had literally disappeared!). For someone that is not particularly emotional, I started to well up and felt a sense of pride that I’d never experienced before. My happiness was slightly short lived however as Jamie hadn’t been accepted into Liverpool. The rest of the day was spent sorting out his options with clearing and finding an alternative course. After hours and hours, Jamie was accepted at Glamorgan.. We were both heading to Cardiff!!!!

    Although I attended university, I have learned more in the 2 and a half years in my apprenticeship than I did studying for a degree. I don’t regret the decision as I’ve made life long friends and gained experiences. But for my personal and career development, the apprenticeship was the right route for me. Regardless of all your results today, it doesn’t define who you are and what you can achieve .

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

  • An Apprenticeship Tailored to You

    4th August 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    image1

    Before breaking up for the long Summer holidays, there is that period where your teachers are urging you to make a decision about your future. For me, being in this position I didn’t care. I wanted to get out of the school gates to enjoy the late nights and not having those early mornings. Couldn’t I just panic a week before September?

    From the students and teachers I have spoken with since engaging in apprenticeships, there seems to be more structure and it’s fantastic that a lot of students know where and what they want to do. Well done to the guys involved in CSAB (Connected School and Business Programme)! So what happens when you finish your entry level apprenticeship? This was a decision I had to make exactly a year ago.

    I completed my Level 3 with TDM and if you have read my previous posts or met me, you’d soon learn that I put a huge amount of time and effort into my job. Not only am I passionate about the job I do, I love the company and am fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive team. My day to day duties continue to increase, which has been a massive learning curve, with me having to understand more about management and delegation (a toughie when Mummy Rawlings always taught me to just get on and do it!). With this in mind, I began to get concerned about my time management. TDM had advised me that there was a big difference between a Level 3 and a Level 4 apprenticeship. Could I fit this in with everything else?

    Unfortunately at the time, TDM didn’t offer a Level 4 (they do now which is great news!), so I began searching for alternative Marketing courses that would enable me to stay with my current employer. During my search, I was amazed at the amount of flexible and tailored apprenticeships that are out there. Noting that my job is very hands-on and requires me to occasionally work 14 hour shifts, I needed to find something that would fit in. Although I have accumulated a load of contacts and have experienced things I would never have dreamed of, I always want to learn and felt I needed the support of a qualification.

    I qualified for a Level 4 CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) after having completed a level 3 and holding a managerial position with The Replacement Service. What made this even better was I was able to do it all online and at my own speed. After selecting my modules, I could enroll on each one as and when. I am incredibly happy to have made this decision and it just proves how great apprenticeships and the learning providers are!

    So… exactly a year ago I enrolled onto my Level 4 alongside taking on a HUGE new project with one of the UK’s largest insurers. Creating this new insurance initiative has been a year of my life and yesterday this was officially launched to the general public! A great early birthday present!

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

  • This Year Is Worcs Apprentices Year!

    18th July 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Those that have met my employer James or myself, it will soon become apparent that we promote apprenticeships as much as we can! From having an insurance background where it is deemed boring, white, middle management sort of environment (these are the words of an editor at Insurance Times!), TRS are very proactive in introducing new, fresh and innovate blood into our sector. For over 3 years now, TRS have been involved in apprenticeships.

    TECH_INN_LOGO-FINALISTDuring National Apprenticeship Week (see post further down the page), I mention that when I joined TRS, there was only one other apprentice, Joe whom started his career as a software developer with TDM Wyre Academy. As we are predominately split between claims management and software solutions, Joe’s mentor gave him a lot of responsibility from very early on and due to the likes of me, his work load continues to increase. Technology and I don’t mix very well and our clients requirements are forever changing.

    Working on a new insurance initiative, this year is looking very exciting! Due to the hard work and grueling schedule (don’t tell James I said that..), we are incredibly excited and proud to be shortlisted for another award! The Insurance Times host the Tech & Innovation Awards in September at the Royal Garden Hotel in London and TRS are among those to be going. This new initiative which I have been working on, I had roped Joe into creating a brand new claims system which the genius completed in 3 days :O Half of the team which has worked on this project are Worcestershire Apprentices so a thank you to our training provider TDM Wyre Academy for their continued support and the opportunities which TRS has given us.

    If I haven’t flown the flag enough… Please consider a Worcestershire Apprenticeship.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • World Class Worcs

    18th July 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    What am I going to do with my life? This was a question I asked myself when I left Cardiff University a couple of years ago, and honestly I had no clue. I started off with a small part time job just to get some money in the bank to feed my ridiculous eating habits! Whilst rethinking about my future, the thought of apprenticeships had never crossed my mind and it was only due to a friend starting one that I even considered it!

    IMG_4115My journey from the awards in November to the current day, I have met and worked with some amazing people in our county, I really have been spoiled. This would never have happened if my employer hadn’t have nominated me, so thank you James! Most recently, I was approached by the team at World Class Worcestershire to be featured on the launch of their new website on ‘People in Worcestershire’.

    This section has a brief summary of my journey from university to making the best decision of my life and engage with Worcestershire Apprenticeships. As this feature states, my advice to anyone considering becoming an apprentice is if it’s truly what you want to do, go for it! Don’t be scared to try new things, walk along the tight rope, your employer is there to catch you so you will never fail!

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • Award Season

    3rd June 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    IMG_6298It is officially June which means the start of Award season and the panic for new outfits! Last night the insurance industry joined to celebrate the insurers and individuals that had been shortlisted. Including me :)

    From my previous post, I mentioned that I had been nominated for The Rising Star at the Insurance Post Claims Awards in Kensington which I was surprised and very proud to have been acknowledged by the company and shortlisted by such a prestigious panel of judges. The night was a great opportunity to chat with current and potential clients, and in addition, the food was immense.

    Although I was not successful on the night, I did manage (very successfully) to drink the hotel dry. My head has felt better.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

  • Get Voting!

    12th April 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    So this years Worcestershire’s Apprenticeship Awards are NOW OPEN!! To celebrate the hard work of apprentices, employers and training providers, West Midlands Safari Park are hosting the 3rd event this November! I encourage anyone to get your applications in before the 30th June! 
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    When my submission was put in last year, I didn’t expect to be short-listed, let alone win 2 awards on the night. Regardless of winning these awards, the evening is such a good night, beautiful decorations, great hosts, delicious food and made me feel incredibly proud to be involved. Worcestershire Apprenticeships is something everyone should be part of.

    The awards was only just the start for me and propelled my career beyond anything I ever expected. This alone should entice anyone to think about applying! It’s been 5 months on and what a journey it has been….

    – Working with the great people of Worcestershire I am helping to promote apprenticeships, not only to young professionals but also to employers. I could not thank my employer enough and the opportunities I have been given. This is honestly a mutual benefit.

    – I am currently short-listed for 2 awards. Firstly, Wonderful Worcestershire Women for Young Woman in Business Award and secondly for ‘The Rising Star’ Award to The Claims Awards.

    – Successfully won my first contract for TRS with one of the UK’s largest insurer for a soft launch in June (scary but exciting!). This new initiative will be an industry’s first

    – Progressing other sales and business development projects. I am now becoming a regular in London (not forgetting my roots of course!) Seeing the Malvern hills and the countryside after the chaos of London, it feels like such a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

    I cannot reiterate how these awards have helped and the doors that have been opened. Although it has been challenging and I am always tired, I would not change anything for the world.

    For more information on applying, visit Apprenticeship Awards. DO YOUR APPLICATION NOW!

    Hope to see you all there on the evening :) Mine’s a G&T.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

  • Buses Coming At Once

    4th April 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    rising starHeard the expression about all buses coming at once? I never understood what it meant until now. From my previous posts, you would have read how being crowned Worcestershire’s Apprentice of The Year was a massive shock to me. Following on from this, I was recently shortlisted for ‘Young Woman in Business’ for Wonderful Worcestershire Women (see previous post). Whilst I am incredibly grateful and humbled by both, the most recent announcement really has shown how far I have come and an acknowledgment which isn’t just within the county.

    For those who don’t know or read insurance publications (Yes, such things exist and they are interesting!), there are a few of giants. These include Modern Claims Magazine, Insurance Times and Post. Now, Post is probably the most established and every year they run The Claims Awards in London. Our company had submitted nominations for a few categories and given our busy schedule currently, we thought nothing of it.

    Whilst travelling back from the north  a few weeks ago with my boss, I received a Facebook message. This was from one of the companies old clients whom sent their congratulations for my nomination, which given everything else that us going on and the time that had passed, I didn’t know what the message meant. One thing you should know about me is that I can be quite slow… You can literally tell when the light bulb comes on and the realisation on my face. This happened then. Trying to find the announcement on my phone was difficult enough with my boss’ fast driving but I was so excited and didn’t want to be disappointed that there had been a mistake. After checking, re-checking, checking again, looking at my computer screen monitor back in the office and reading the email….I had actually been shortlisted for The Claims Awards for The Rising Star!

    If you are in insurance meetings, it all goes on in London and Worcester is unknown to many so for a small business in Worcester, this is pretty big. Whilst I am looking forward to some drinks and food at the awards ceremony, the thought of this opening up new doors is most exciting. I hope this will propel the companies hard work and efforts further. Fingers crossed for Friday 2nd June!

    For full list and details, visit The Claims Awards.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • Wonderful Worcestershire Women

    22nd March 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    If I was to describe myself, I don’t think I would choose the word Wonderful. Only because it’s quite feminine and for those who 79e74955-d127-4106-8fe0-fdb7ccaf4e3b-largeknow me, you’d happily see me with a pint and screaming at Liverpool FC (years and years of frustration this has caused me!). So when my boss was informed of the Wonderful Worcestershire Women Awards, I wasn’t sure I would get anywhere, especially with the fantastic talent that we have in the county. 

    After a very long and busy week at work back in February, I settled down to my Friday evening with a Gin & Tonic and received a phone call from Wonderful Worcestershire Women (WWW). The public vote had been running for some time with my colleagues and others supporting/promoting me on social media and other means. So when I was informed I’d got through to the next round, I was in complete shock. With our company being in tender period, a launch of a new service, an expansion of products and juggling my studies, the awards had slipped my mind.

    A few weeks back, I was invited to present to the WWW judges. Although I have done presentations and meetings for my job, promoting myself doesn’t sit particularly well with me. To be honest, I find it slightly embarrassing. Meeting with Sarah Mayo-Evans of Peach Recruitment (one of the founders), she put me at ease, asked questions about work and informed me it was now my turn. The judges were so welcoming and the nerves started to disappear. I managed to get through my speech and felt more comfortable as they asked an array of questions about my current job and my future.

    Now the announcement has been made and I’m really looking forward to the awards ceremony at the end of April. What Sarah Mayo-Evans and Julia Williams of Premier Places (the other founder) have done is brilliant and a great acknowledgement to all of the business women in Worcestershire. Congratulations to all of those that were nominated and good luck to those that have made it through to the judges round.

    I am INCREDIBLY grateful for those that have voted and supported me, without those I couldn’t have made it this far! Fingers crossed.

    For more information, visit Wonderful Worcestershire Women

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

     

  • We’re Going to London…

    21st March 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    IMG_5573Last Wednesday, Worcestershire Apprenticeships organised a trip to the Houses of Parliament for apprentices, training providers and employers with me being among them. I had mentioned this trip to my boss whom believed this was an extravagant excuse to not come into the office (Hence the photo evidence of me in Westminster Hall)! 

    Every time I go to London I feel like a tourist… But this experience was something else and felt completely surreal. Once the group arrived, we went through an airport style security; bags, belts, coats, everything was checked with visitor passes issued once we were given the green light.

    We met with Robin Walker MP, whom myself and TRS have a couple of meetings to promote education and apprenticeships within Worcestershire and beyond. Robin gave us all a warm welcome for what was to be a busy day in parliament as we’d arrived on the day the budget announcement was to be made. Meeting with our tour guide, we were shown around. For someone who was a complete nightmare in school, I would have typically been the clown, not listening and believe this to be a history lesson. I can honestly say I found it so interesting!  I don’t think I can describe the experience but every single detail within every single room caught your eye. The colours, architecture, paintings, floor tiles were something I have never seen before.

    For me the highlight of the day had to be near the end. Now, this sounds like an insult like I couldn’t wait to get home but it isn’t the case. Myself and a couple of others decided to wait to see if we could get into the public gallery in the Houses of Commons. Whilst many had waited ages and given up due to our coach coming at 2pm, we got there at the right time and got some spaces! Seeing Jeremy Corbyn speak, hearing the buzz from the room and seeing David Cameron sitting not that far away felt completely bizarre and an experience I will always remember.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • Made By Apprentices

    14th March 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Happy National Apprenticeship Week to all business, apprentices and training providers! This years theme is ‘Rise to the Top’ which celebrates the contribution that apprentices have made to employers. With this is mind, I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce you to one of my colleagues whom I work very close with at The Replacement Service.  Also an apprentice. 

    For those who don’t know, I started my career at TRS just over 2 years ago as a Level 3 Social Media Apprentice and when I joined, I was in the company of only one other apprentice (not the case now!). Joe was a Level 2 Software Developer Apprentice with TDM Wyre Academy and had been with the company for 6 months prior to my arrival. My first impressions was that this guy was incredibly quiet and given my frustrations with technology, I had no idea what he did or how he did it. It just happened. Working with Joe for 2 years now, He is an absolute genius! After completing his Level 3, he could easily go onto his Level 4 and all this whilst developing MI to customers requirements, automated cleansing abilities to data downloads and managing the in-house hardware and software. Such a good egg! It has to be said I hope my potty mouth when trying to complete my own studies hasn’t put him off doing this! My impressions have only slightly changed with him being more vocal and venting his frustrations with computers and printers that I break. It seems my personality traits are transferring onto him. So I hope that I gain from him more than he gains from me!

    With a lot of change within the company structure and the services we have broadened out into, it has been a particularity hard but rewarding 18 months. Much of mine and my boss James successes could not have happened without Joe’s support and ability to make what might be deemed slightly impossible, possible! I have never met a young professional as modest as Joe and his programming is used by some of our industry’s giants. As if I don’t pester and MUST annoy Joe enough with breaking everything in the office, asking stupid questions or making him complete riddles and puzzles, I had dragged him to last years Modern Claims Awards… 

    Joe Andrews. Level 2 & 3 Software Developer Apprentice with TDM Wyre Academy. 

    Due to this weeks celebrations and contributions, both Joe and I have the exciting visit to the Houses of Parliament with MP Robin Walker among some other projects. TRS will continue to offer apprenticeships and it has to be said, Joe and I may have given to TRS but we are both incredibly grateful that someone gave us the chance to shine.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • Skills Show

    10th March 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Yesterday, Connected Schools and Business Programme organised the Skills Show hosted at Sixways Stadium. An estimated 1500 pupils attended to discuss future career paths across an array of sectors with some of the best employers in Worcestershire exhibiting. 

    IMG_5503Whilst I was still in school, this would have been the perfect opportunity to have a day out of classroom as I was a little bit of a troublemaker! Speaking with a few students on the day, I was surprised on have things have changed. Posed with the questions I asked, ‘what are your interests?’, ‘what subjects do you enjoy’, ‘any idea of the sector you want to look into’, my 16 year old self would have worn a blank, confused face. However, yesterday the students could answer these questions even if it meant they weren’t sure on how to get there. The Skill Show was therefore a fantastic opportunity to find the resources and skills needed to get to the desired outcome. The CSAB programme really is helping students, schools and employers.

    What I found refreshing was the companies that had attended really interacting with the students with some ‘give it a go’ activities. Even at the age of 23, it had an appeal to me. With a fear of heights, having a go on a virtual sky drive hasn’t conquered my fear but the experience was surreal! West Midlands Safari had bought along a few friends including ‘Bob’, who to me looked like he belonged to the hedgehog family, only to find out he was related to the elephant…

    For my first year at the Skills Show, I can honestly see the appeal for employers and it was only due to other commitments that myself and TRS were unable to exhibit. We definitely will be doing it next year.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

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  • Walker 4 Worcester

    18th February 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    FullSizeRenderBefore the Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards back in November, I had always had a passion for apprenticeships in what it has provided me and the other apprentices at The Replacement Service. Bumping into old school teachers in supermarkets, it was refreshing to hear them say how they are now encouraging more students to seriously consider becoming an apprentice (a lot different from when I was in school!). 

    With the increased interest becoming apparent and a steady growth of apprenticeship opportunities within Worcestershire, my mission is to carry on this initiative and ensure we keep the great talent that have come out of the county, remain here! To help with my mission, yesterday I met with Robin Walker MP who has been appointed the Parliamentary Apprenticeship Ambassador and was very enthused in meeting to discuss future promotion opportunities and any joint ventures we could come up with.

    Robin had told me about his background, how he had got involved in apprenticeships as well as past campaigns and was interested in hearing my story as well as ideas myself, The Replacement Service and Worcestershire County Council have been working on. We have come up with a few ideas throughout this year to inspire both the employer and young professionals into the apprenticeship scheme.

    Watch this space.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here

  • St Augustine’s WorkShop

    10th February 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    At the age 16, I knew I wanted independence and to move away from the town I had grown up in (Evesham). For those who do not know Evesham, there is nothing wrong with it but for a teenager it is very small and the idea of moving to a big city and meeting new people is very appealing.

    I decided to stay at Evesham Sixth Form, now DMS, as I was still unsure what subject to take at university. At this time, Apprenticeships weren’t on the agenda with most of our age range thinking there were only opportunities for Construction and Engineering so university or employment were our options. I studied Physical Education, Art, ICT and French and being very fickle, I would change my mind regularly on what area to pursue further! Eventually, I decided Sport would be my route.
    St Augustine WorkshopFrom my previous blog post, you would have read how my experience at university didn’t work out and after 2 years at UWIC (University Wales Institute Cardiff), I made the hardest decision to leave my life behind, as I knew this wasn’t where my future would lie. Speaking with others today on this decision, I still maintain that this was the best thing I ever did and still to this day, I don’t look back and regret it.

    Following my very haphazard experiences of  university, work placements and apprenticeships, I am very passionate in sharing my story and trying to help and guide others into their own paths, without being bias. Although apprenticeships has given me everything I wanted, I can understand the attractions for university.

    Today, myself and Helena Baxter visited St Augustine’s High School in Redditch to introduce apprenticeships and guide them through the application processes as well as providing impartial advice on their options. Like myself, many were torn between what and where to go but are seriously considering an apprenticeship. Personally, I could not be happier as I would love others to experience what I have and it is incredibly rewarding for the work myself and Worcestershire Apprenticeships are putting in.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

     

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  • The Start of Ambassador Duties!

    4th February 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Last Wednesday marked the 1st day of my reigning Apprenticeship Ambassador duties with some promotional filming from my personal experiences and from my employer, The Replacement Service, into the benefits of work placements and the apprenticeship schemes.

    Personally, I decided to enroll in a work experience placement due to the fact I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WANTED TO DO. Being the youngest of four siblings, whom had excelled at University andIMG_5019 even went on to do Masters, there felt a pressure to live up to their high expectations. So massive thanks to Justin, Matthew and Natasha. It’s always a struggle being at school knowing where you want to go (Originally I was accepted onto an undergraduate degree for Sports Conditioning, Rehabilitation and Massage… Now I work within the Insurance sector. Point proven!). Teachers try to supply information to help make informed decisions and arrange external parties to deliver talks which can help but experience and getting into the working environment grows an understanding of what young professionals like and dislike. Those who are unsure, work placements really are beneficial and it is a great learning curve for employers to shape what they would like they future work force to look like.

    Working with Fix 8 Films and CSAB, my Wednesday afternoon and the TRS office had turned into a Hollywood set with an invasion of cameras, microphones, lighting equipment and a directors team. The photographs and short snippets of interviews of myself and my boss, James Hyslop are to released in social media campaigns.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

     

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  • #1 Apprentice with #1 Post

    27th January 2016 Victoria Rawlings

    Hello! For those who don’t know me, I’m Victoria Rawlings from The Replacement Service in Worcester, currently studying a Level 4 qualification in Marketing after completing my Level 3 Social Media with TDM Wyre Academy. 10 weeks ago, I attended the Worcestershire’s Apprenticeship Awards at West Midlands Safari Park after being nominated for the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year. To be nominated and shortlisted was the first of many surprises.

    Those closest to me and my colleagues will know that my first love is food…  Closely followed by my job. It may be a surprise to know that even with my job role I can be shy, (even though I have developed a voice which I believe my colleagues at TRS wish I would lose!) so being put in the spotlight probably isn’t the most comfortable for me and the nerves I felt at the awards had put me off the 3 course meal.. Another first for me.

    Once my name had been called out for winning the Higher Level Apprentice of the Year, I actually didn’t register but noticed my mum and boss, whom I was in the middle of, just bolt upright along with the rest of my table and the one next to it. Trying to walk up to the stage whilst everyone was trying to grab me was the first struggle, when all that was running through my mind was not to fall over… Not only did I achieve the award and not fall over but Steph McGovern from BBC Breakfast hugged me and told me I had a great dress on.

    What myself, my parents and my boss hadn’t accounted for was there was a final award for Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year. If you ever thought I had a voice, you have not met Mummy Rawlings. As soon as ‘Victoria Rawlings’ had been announced as the winner for the 2nd award, I could literally feel my eardrum burst, along with the shock I felt. I think it was actually commented on how I looked completely surprised. The streamers, clapping, photographs and videos were all a blur. I managed to find a hideous post reaction video on Twitter weeks afterwards!

    So… What’s next?

    Thankfully due to the heavy schedule TRS had in 2015, I had the luxury of 2 weeks off for Christmas to recharge the batteries, which was very much needed. Now, already at the end of January (HOW?!), the opportunities and support shown from people within my industry (Insurance….It honestly isn’t that boring) and Worcestershire has been overwhelming and I cannot thank those enough. This month has been even more productive than the whole of last year, with a few more nominations for myself, along with more responsibilities at TRS, studies and the pleasure of working with great people to promote apprenticeships. I’d love to give back to what an apprenticeship gave me.

    Keep posted on my year. For regular updates, follow me on Twitter @No1_apprentice

    Victoria x

    Higher Apprentice and Worcestershire Apprentice of the Year 2015

     

    Subscribe to the apprentice blog here