LilyIris are an accounting and payroll company who specialise in the construction industry within the Bristol and South Gloucestershire area. They currently have 3 apprentices who are all at different levels of their accounting and finance apprenticeship.
Samatha Nelmes, Director of LilyIris, is passionate about growing and developing people within her business and is proud to state that 50% of her team are apprentices. We managed to get some time with Samantha to find out more about LilyIris apprenticeship journey. the critical role the apprentices play in her organisation and her aspirations for the apprentices.
How have your accounting and finance apprentices progressed in their roles and contributed to your organisation?
Apprentices play a pivotal role within our business. We currently have 3 apprentices who are all at different stages within their apprenticeship journey. One apprentice has been with us for over 2 years, another apprentice who has been with us for 3 months and the final apprentice who has been with us for 3 weeks.
If I reference the apprentice who has been with us for over 2 years, she has completed her AAT Level 2 Accounts and Finance Assistant Apprenticeship and is now doing her AAT Level 3 Assistant Accountant Apprenticeship. Throughout her apprenticeship journey she has learnt a lot of new skills, and as an employer it is great to see her confidence grow with each task she does. She has now taken responsibility for all the self-assessment reports within the organisation.
How has Damar’s approach to training benefitted the apprentices and your organisation?
What I really admire about Damar and their approach to apprenticeships is the visibility you get as an employer. I have access to systems which allows me to understand how my apprentices are progressing. I have the functionality to be able to see what modules they are covering now and in the upcoming months and I also get to see what work they have submitted and if there is any way I can support them.
I also like the fact that I have access to the training plan so I can understand the structure of the apprenticeship, this allows me to manage the practical aspect of their jobs as I am able to coincide this with the theoretical learning.
What future goals and aspirations do you have for your apprentices within your organisation?
I would like all to see the apprentices progress from the Level 2 apprenticeship to the Level 4 apprenticeship. I want to support them in being AAT qualified. As an employer I get satisfaction knowing that they are learning new skills and developing. I have conversations with them to see how I can support and nurture their long-term development and see what support I can provide them. If it means they move onto another company at least I know I have supported them in their career journey.
What advice would you give to other employers who are thinking about taking on an apprentice?
My advice would be just do it but be very realistic with your expectations. Having an apprentice is not a quick fix to getting someone in your team and thinking they will just get on. You will need to invest your time and energy, but rewards are huge.
As an employer it is great to see the growth, confidence and results in the apprentices. On a personal note, the biggest satisfaction for me is knowing that I have helped them on their career journey.
Has anything stood out as being exceptional about your apprentices or is there any examples where they have added value to the team?
It’s difficult to say as there has been many examples of exceptional and outstanding performance and work by all 3 of the apprentices. A great aspect for me as an employer is the visibility and, as mentioned before, this is what I admire the most about the way the apprenticeship is set up at Damar. I have a 6 weekly review meeting with the Damar coach and each apprentice where we can discuss modules, work and results, updates and how I can support them as an employer.
I am immensely proud of all 3 of the apprentices we have. They add value to our team by looking at tasks and seeing if there are more efficient ways to do something, they challenge processes we have and the way we work. It is also amazing to see this generation of accountants having great knowledge of software system and the ease at which they use them.
Pictured from left to right: Jodi Read (apprentice), Erin Clayton (apprentice), Jamie-Lee Nott (apprentice) and Samantha Nelmes (Director of LilyIris.)