For thousands of teenagers across Greater Manchester, the anxious wait for A Level results is finally over this week. But regardless of the results, there are still big decisions to take about the next steps to that dream career.
The Sutton Trust recently reported that the average student debt on graduation is about £44,500, and that many graduates will still be paying back the loans into their 40s and 50s. With that in mind, more and more school and college leavers are now looking for an alternative route that will allow them to earn while they get qualified rather than running up debts. And it’s not just those who are not academically inclined who are choosing the Apprenticeship route.
Alex Pierpoint, who is originally from Yorkshire but now lives in North Manchester achieved an A* and two grade As in his A Levels at college. Alex considered his career options, and ultimately decided on an Apprenticeship route into his chosen career, where he could get professional development and qualifications on the job, rather than in an academic setting.
Alex applied successfully for an Apprenticeship in Providing Financial Services with Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, which employs around 17,000 staff. This was the first time that Nationwide’s Commercial Division had recruited apprentices, and Alex was part of the Division’s first Apprenticeship intake.
During his Apprenticeship, Alex moved between a number of different teams, mainly working in Nationwide’s Business Development team, focusedon delivering new loans to commercial customers. Alex said: “I valued the opportunity to work across a variety of projects. My line managers have all kept an eye out for development opportunities and given me the chance to work with different teams and in different locations to widen my experience.”
“The Apprenticeship training was very effective. Each meeting was well documented and my assessor recorded all the actions in a follow up email which worked as a road map for collecting evidence towards my portfolio month on month.”
“Having completed my Apprenticeship, I’m currently studying for the Level 4 Professional Certificate in Banking through the Institute of Financial Services and would like to continue this up to Level 6. Over the next year I want to progress to manage my own deals in the transaction team. In the longer term I want to complete higher level qualifications and continue to progress within Nationwide.”
“I think the Apprenticeship is a real opportunity to gain valuable work experience with the flexibility to move into different teams and work on different projects. Being part of the scheme means that you are exposed to a number of learning opportunities and I received plenty of support from The Skills Company as well as my colleagues.”
Steve Luty, Head of Business Development, North in Nationwide’s Commercial Division said: “Nationwide has been a strong supporter of the Apprenticeship scheme for many years now but Alex was one of the first inductees into our Commercial Division. We had traditionally only employed graduates and industry transferees into this specialised area but we recognised a need to address our succession pipeline in a more comprehensive way.”
“I’ve been delighted with the commitment and enthusiasm Alex has brought to his role which in turn has definitely contributed to building the positive culture within our office. People have enjoyed supporting his learning and seeing how he has developed. I was surprised how quickly Alex was making a true contribution to the output of the team and how quickly he has learnt some relatively complex aspects of his role.”
Jayne Worthington, Managing Director of Greater Manchester’s largest Apprenticeship training provider, The Skills Company said: “It’s a difficult time for college leavers and their parents, but the good news is that there is a choice for those who have completed their A Levels. The range of Higher and Advanced Apprenticeships has increased hugely in recent years, and they are now available in occupations as diverse as Insurance, Accounting, Social Media, HR and IT, as well as the more traditional Apprenticeship areas such as Construction and Engineering. And with the birth of Degree Apprenticeships and their planned future growth, it means that young people can gain a degree and a great CV at the same time.”
“We currently have well over 250 Apprenticeship vacancies available with companies large and small right across the region, including many household names. In terms of progression, over 90% of apprentices remain in employment at the end of their training, usually with the same company, whereas a recent survey has shown that 40% of recent graduates were still unemployed six months after graduating.”
“Alex is one of many talented and ambitious young people who have proved that you can get your career off to a flying start by choosing a high quality Apprenticeship.”
To find out what Apprenticeship opportunities are available, phone 0161 233 2656 or visit www.theskillsco.com/.