For this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (which takes place from 8th to 14th February 2021), Rochelle explains how her apprenticeship has supported her to succeed during the pandemic, even though she was made redundant because of it.
Hi Rochelle! Can you tell us a little bit about your apprenticeship experience during the pandemic?
I have recently completed the Business Administration Level 3 with Babington. Whilst on the programme, I was in charge of reception, booking meetings, events, catering, screening calls, ordering catering, and maintaining records of catering costs for the Newcastle Office. I also organised meetings and greeting clients and was involved with First Aid and Health and Safety.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the office I worked at has been permanently closed meaning my role became redundant. But my apprenticeship training with Babington meant that I have been able to build on the following skills, which will help me prepare for my next role:
- Key management skills
- Liaising with all types of colleagues/clients such as Stakeholders, Shareholders, Managers, Secretaries, key workers like postal delivery workers, caterers, and cleaners.
- Using different forms of Enhanced Communications. Example, I was a part of a team at Deloitte in Newcastle for a Wellbeing Group, looking after staff and providing advice. I was able to set up a Teams channel for these meetings. As well as set up a channel for colleagues to join this group to motivate each other to talk about how they were feeling during lockdown.
- Providing the correct steps of process around the given task and knowing how to tackle it. Example, I used to send long-winded emails to colleagues. I have learnt to condense my communication into more structured sentences or dialect.
- Gained great knowledge in Health & Safety, Consumer Act, Equality Act, Digital Act, Diversity and Equality. Health & Safety Act 1974. Example, a staff member had spilt hot coffee in reception and did not notify me. I took them to one side and explained Health & Safety procedures and the importance of what disaster could have occurred due to their lack of understanding of the importance of Health & Safety and being responsible.
- Gained great knowledge in GDPR. The knowledge around this procedure gave me confidence in speaking up when a colleague was not following GDPR procedures when answering a call. They were giving contact details of Managers to a so-called person on the line. I stepped in and explained about GDPR.
How do you think apprenticeships are helping businesses to succeed during this difficult time?
The Government is stepping in to support Apprenticeships as there has been an 85% drop in apprenticeship jobs since 2019. This will help the recovery plan for businesses as apprenticeships now come with a cash incentive for employers.
An excellent incentive is that you are training your apprentice to your needs. So that they learn the skills that work best for your business.
Apprenticeships can put the employer in the driving seat when it comes to the quality and the diversity of training that staff receive, resulting in qualifications that are as valuable to the employer as they are to the employer.
Consumers want to buy or do business with companies that are doing their bit to support society, like giving opportunities to young people.
You will also find that employees jump at the chance to share their knowledge and experience with apprentices, especially those who have completed apprenticeships themselves.
What progression opportunities do you have now because of your apprenticeship training?
I have an interview scheduled for a Personal Assistant role. The Business Administration course has given me the skills and confidence to feel optimistic that I stand a good chance of being successful.
I have another interview for a Customer Service Advisor role, this is something where you can work your way up. The Business Administration Qualification has given me the tools to feel I could lead a team in the future.
Would you consider recommending apprenticeships to others? If so, why?
I would strongly recommend an apprenticeship course to others; gaining the necessary tools to demonstrate what you can do at work. Unfortunately, we often say what we CAN’T do, not what we CAN do! You will gain the confidence to learn whilst you are in your current role, using necessary tools that are covered by your trainer to use within your organisation. It is less stressful completing modules based on work-life situations, as you can provide perfect answers with supporting evidence.
As well as learning new skills from the course to add to your knowledge, it also ensures that your employer is looking after you, considering the support that you should receive. Your employer invests in you, they will reap the rewards from your passion and determination to perform to the highest standards gaining positive results all round.
Do you have any other comments to support National Apprenticeship Week 2021?
There are sometimes underlying reasons why people do not achieve well at school or progress in their career development. Which could stem from their childhood experiences as well as material deprivation, being bullied at school or not being able to concentrate.
As part of my Business Admin course, I had to study methods used by Belbin’s team roles where Belbin demonstrated you do not have to be an ‘A’ class student to achieve. I would like to use this as a prime example, an individual only requires 3-4 skills working on a task together within a team of different abilities who can achieve anything.
I have experienced good and bad days working through my apprenticeship course, mostly due to not always believing in myself. However, I have had the most amazing support and encouragement from my tutors, colleague’s, and clients. It is never too late to learn. I am 49 years old and just starting. Watch this space!