Apprenticeships are making a comeback in the 21st Century workplace, with employers increasingly valuing practical vocational experience in conjunction with qualifications from colleges and professional bodies.
For those less suited to classroom learning and keen to enter the world of work, apprenticeships offer an opportunity to learn directly applicable skills ‘on the job’ and earn a wage at the same time.
Experience counts for a lot with employers, and you earn a wage while you’re learning.Laurence O’Connor
One firm believer in the apprenticeship route is 18-year-old Shannon Kelly, now four months into her own apprenticeship with Burnley insurance brokers and financial advisors Financial Affairs, and loving every minute of it.
“I attempted college twice to do my A Levels, but I hated it and wanted to find a job instead,” said Shannon, who lives in Padiham and previously attended Blessed Trinity RC College, Burnley.
“Most of my friends went on to college for A Levels and it seemed like the thing to do, but it just wasn’t for me.”
Instead she secured an apprenticeship as a Financial Services Administrator with Financial Affairs, established in 1972 and based in Standish Street. It is a family-run firm and many of its team have been there since leaving school and risen to senior positions within the company.
That is encouraging to Shannon, who has her sights set on a career in the financial services sector.
“Everyone is really nice here, I fit in really well,” said Shannon, whose apprenticeship is part of a business administration course run by Southport-based training provider Joint Learning. An assessor from Joint Learning visits her in the workplace every month to monitor her progress.
In the office she is mentored by Financial Services Manager Alan Walsh, who shares the same open plan office.
“I’m here five days-a-week and Alan’s taught me everything and been really helpful,” said Shannon. “When I first started I hated answering the phones, but I’m fine with it now because I’m more confident.
“Everything I learn here relates directly to the job I’m doing and I can put that learning to work straight away.”
The firm’s MD, Laurence O’Connor, is also putting Shannon in for her first financial services exams, keen to establish a career path and develop her emerging skills.
“College is not for everyone and I’m really happy here,” added Shannon. “I would advise anyone in my position to look at an apprenticeship as one of their options. Experience counts for a lot with employers, and you earn a wage while you’re learning.”
For more about Financial Affairs visit www.financialaffairs.co.uk or call 01282 452255. For more about Joint Learning visit www.jointlearning.co.uk and for general advice and information on apprenticeships visit www.apprenticeships.gov.uk