Nurturing future talent

Apprentice Olivia

Having completed my apprenticeship I know it’s not just a qualification, it has given me skills, knowledge and confidence that will benefit me throughout my career.

It’s National Apprenticeship Week 2023 and we’re taking this opportunity to showcase one of our colleagues, Olivia Downings, a former apprentice who is now an important member of our team.  

Olivia (pictured above) achieved her Level 3 in Business Administration in November 2022 whilst working in our Business Support Unit, since completing this she has gained a promotion and now works in our Compliance Team. We managed to sit down with her to find out more about her apprenticeship journey.  

How did you decide to do an apprenticeship? 

I was at college, where I was studying my A-Levels but knew that I didn’t want to go to university, for two reasons, firstly the soaring costs associate to the university fees and secondly, I felt I was done with the formal set up of full-time education. 

My form tutor mentioned that an apprenticeship might be a good option for me, so I investigated it further. I really liked how you could get on-the-job training and gain hands-on experience whilst being able to earn some money too.  

So, I started applying to different apprenticeship vacancies and managed to secure a role with Damar Training.  

What made you choose the Business Administration apprenticeship?  

I studied Business Studies at GCSE and at A-Level and really enjoyed it. Having researched the Business Administration apprenticeship I liked how diverse the qualification was and how it didn’t limit you to a particular function or sector.  

What skills and knowledge have you transferred over from your apprenticeship to a working environment?  

My time and task-management have improved. Whilst doing my apprenticeship my coach would help me keep on top of my workload and ensure I was completing all my assignments and modules on time. The coach’s guidance and best practice approach is something I’ve taken across with me. With the support of my colleagues, I’ve learnt to prioritise my workload and complete one task before I move onto the next one. 

I feel modules such as Communication Skills within my apprenticeship were great because you learn how to speak to internal and external stakeholders. I’ve applied this to my work where I was tasked with managing all incoming calls and allocating them onto the relevant departments. At first it was very daunting, but I relied on the skills and best practice approach I learnt whilst doing my apprenticeship, but also found my colleagues were very supportive.  

I am a lot more confident when speaking in meetings, and I feel this was down to the group coaching sessions I had whilst doing my apprenticeship. Those sessions would allow me to meet fellow apprentices, and I would share our thoughts, ideas and viewpoints.  

What intangible skills do you feel your apprenticeship has helped you develop? 

At first I was nervous being in an office environment having left college, but I feel I have my feet and voice within the workplace, and that’s partly down to apprenticeship but also the support I’ve received from my colleagues. I’m no longer afraid to contribute and speak up in meetings, and I’m more confident having gained new skills. 

I feel I’m a lot more inquisitive, where I’m always asking questions and trying to make processes more efficient and better. 

What advice would you give anyone who is considering an apprenticeship?  

I would recommend you do your research into the sector you want to work in and see what apprenticeships are available to you. Once you’ve done that make sure you apply for apprenticeship vacancies.   

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back on your applications or are unsuccessful, I learnt not to take rejections or setbacks personally. So, make sure you keep persevering when applying for an apprenticeship and keep a positive mindset.  

Having completed my apprenticeship I know it’s not just a qualification, it has given me skills, knowledge and confidence that will benefit me throughout my career. 

I’m grateful that I am working for an employer who values the impact apprentices make on the world and they’ve given me a platform and a career pathway to help me reach my full potential.