National Apprenticeship week 2021

National Apprenticeship Week takes place this year between 8 and 14 February 2021. This annual week-long celebration is held to shine a light on the amazing work being done by employers and apprentices across the country and aims to recognise how employers of all sizes have stepped up to the challenge during this unprecedented time. Employers talked further on the Busines Live website, how apprenticeships have developed their strengths.

In November 2020, Harry Barker joined the company as an IT infrastructure technician and Danielle Poulter joined the support team on a Business Administration apprenticeship and National Apprenticeship Week at Link ICT.

We interviewed Danielle to discover her thoughts about National Apprenticeship Week at Link ICT and how she thinks being an apprentice will help her career.

Link ICT Apprentices Danielle Poulter and Harry Barker

Why did I choose to follow the path of an apprenticeship?

The year 2020 was like no other and unfortunately, it was the year I was supposed to be attending my Criminology degree graduation ceremony, but that was cancelled and I got my certificate through the post during a lockdown which was not quite the same! Therefore, after all my work was submitted it was crunch time to become a full-time employed young adult within the real world! This was a daunting experience, especially within a global pandemic. Like lots of others who had graduated within these unprecedented times, finding work was not without struggle and difficulty.

But an opportunity presented itself for me to do a Business Admin Apprenticeship with Link ICT and although some may see this as a step back from a degree, I wanted it to be a stepping stone that would help my long-term career prospects.

I thought that if I build my skills and experience within a workplace I would be able to add more value to an employer and differentiate myself from graduates with no work experience. The real-life experience of work, compared to university life, was something I was eager to experience and for me to understand that my educational learning had not yet ended.  I knew from friends who had gone straight from school into apprenticeships that they are a great way to learn, earn, gain a great career and CV building qualification, with the more certain possibility of a full-time position at the end of the course.

What have I learned so far within my apprenticeship?

For my Business Admin Apprenticeship, I have learned so much, from simple admin tasks like document scanning to building complex relationships with suppliers.

Some of the simple admin responsibilities are based around learning how to prioritise tasks and to complete all tasks within a timely manner which has taken time to absorb, but I can see how an apprenticeship helps you learn things that gaining an academic degree could never achieve. That real-life experience within an organisation, working with real people and other real organisations is something you can’t learn in within a classroom.  It has to be physically experienced.

I had my expectations as to what admin work meant, but I was surprised to see how much organisation goes into it. As ensuring attention to detail, keeping up with ever-changing alterations and the variations of communication are all skills that I have had to improve on due to them being fundamental to my role within Link ICT. I think that Administration has been really complimentary to my CV and my skills and knowledge base and I think these different abilities that I have learned will be relevant to whichever career path I may choose.

Also, being an apprentice within an IT company my IT skills and knowledge have developed a lot, as I have access to complex systems that help us complete our everyday tasks but I can also state that my understanding and development of the Microsoft Office tools has also greatly increased.

Working with our suppliers and our customers has shown me how significant and effective specialised relationships with others can be. Furthermore, I have learned how many people an organisation comes into contact with, and how important it is to remain professional but to also have a friendly approach in order to really develop and progress relationships rapidly.

Learning while doing an apprenticeship is continuous. You never have a day where you do not learn something new. I’d also argue that this is one of the best things about being an apprentice, you gain transferrable skills for future employment and this experience is invaluable in today’s harsh employment environment.

How do I think an apprenticeship will improve my career?

An apprenticeship is not for everyone, but I can say that they are vital to people who want that real-life experience within a workplace along with earning a wage!

Apprenticeships can be a pathway to gaining that knowledge in a preferred, specialised sector or simply to learn skills that can take you towards another career path.

This is a route that I would like to take after my Business Admin Apprenticeship has been completed. As I have already completed my degree in Criminology I would like to merge both of my qualifications together and maybe pursue a career within the police force, where aspects of my business admin qualification will complement my degree. Alternatively, I may find that there is a full-time permanent position at Link ICT.

Whichever opportunity presents itself,  an apprenticeship has given me the type of workplace environment experience that employers value and therefore may be more interested in hiring me as an employee.

For me, completing an apprenticeship has been a vital life experience as I now understand how businesses works, it is another recognised qualification, and I have many transferable skills I can add to my CV that hopefully make me stand out to a potential employer.

Link ICT, utilised a Government scheme has enabled them to offer opportunities to apprentices for the very first time. The £2bn Kick Starter Programme was launched in July 2020 as part of the government’s plan to protect, support, and create jobs in order to prevent unemployment from becoming rife among 16-24-year-olds.