Wrekin apprentices blaze a trail

National Apprenticeship Week 2019 (NAW 2019) took place at the beginning of March and Wrekin Products used it to reflect on some of its very positive apprenticeship experiences – including the fact that one in seven of our permanent employees started their working lives with us in this way.

The week is designed to showcase the opportunities doing an apprenticeship can bring – both for the individuals concerned and the companies employing them.

The theme for the week was “blaze a trail” and to demonstrate how Wrekin Products does that, we are sharing the thoughts and experiences of two members of staff who joined us as apprentices – Oli Grice and Sarah Booth.

Oli Grice (pictured below) started at Wrekin Products in 2015, studying Business Administration Level 2.

Today he is Purchase Ledger and his varied workload involves matching up statements, posting invoices on the system, chasing payments and dealing with customers and suppliers.

Talking about making the choice to start his career in the way he did, Oli says: “I first considered an apprenticeship when I was nearing the end of my Business course at college. I thought I would get great working experience and a good understanding of how an office operates out of it.

“My apprenticeship was one year, and I was taken on full-time before my apprenticeship finished.

“I didn’t consider anything else as I wanted to stay around where I lived. The apprenticeship was my first choice, because not only are you in full-time work but you are earning whilst you’re learning, and you are in no debt come the end of it.  It’s a great way to start your working career.”

“The apprenticeship was my first choice, because not only are you in full-time work but you are earning whilst you’re learning, and you are in no debt come the end of it.  It’s a great way to start your working career.” 

Oli is now looking to do further training. “I have progressed a lot since I first started,” he says, “and I’m currently discussing doing a Business Level 3 course.”

Asked what advice he would offer anyone considering doing an apprenticeship, he says: “I would say to any young person to do an apprenticeship because it’s great experience in a working environment and you are also earning money from a young age.”

Sales Service Administrator Sarah Booth, who competed her apprenticeship with Wrekin in January, took a slightly different path from Oli, but has nevertheless had an equally successful apprenticeship.

Sarah studied Level 2 Business Administration and having successfully completed that and landed a permanent role at Wrekin, she is now considering whether to move to level 3 or have a customer service qualification to go alongside her Level 2 Business Administration.

Sarah’s Level 2 studies consisted of having visits from an assessor and participating in guided discussions and completing written assignments to demonstrate she could communicate effectively in the business environment and provide a good quality of administrative services.

It was during a visit to an open day at a sixth form that Sarah decided she didn’t want to stay in full-time education for another two years. “This suddenly occurred to me when we were having taster lessons of the subjects I had chosen, so I looked at other options I had.

“I felt as though I needed to learn by having hands-on experience. I thought business administration would be a good career pathway as I have skills that would help me in this role such as having good attention to detail, and it was a good way for me to learn how a company operates.”

Asked what she has gained from it, Sarah explains: “Doing an apprenticeship meant I was learning on the job, so I could get the qualification as well as gaining the experience. Another advantage of doing an apprenticeship meant I was earning money, and this enabled me to pass my driving test, which was important to me.”

Sarah’s advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship is: “I’d advise them to consider what career pathways the qualification can lead to, and whether there will be scope for them to progress further and develop themselves.

“I’d also advise them to think of what skills they already have and what apprenticeship they can do that will help them to utilise those skills.”

Wrekin Products is proud to have helped Oli, Sarah and many others to start their careers by offering them apprenticeships and to support National Apprentice Week by sharing their stories.