Our Marketing Apprentice Shares his Experience of Apprenticeships
This time last year, James Bruce became emfec’s marketing apprentice, and as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2016 he asked other apprentices within the emfec and ABC Awards team their view on apprenticeships. One year on, and we now ask James to reflect on his year working with the emfec marketing and communications team.
What apprenticeship(s) did you complete, and what made you want to do an apprenticeship?
When I finished Year 11 at school, I started going to the sixth form, but soon found that it wasn’t for me, and that I wanted to do something different and get away from the school scene. I wanted to continue my development, but I wasn’t satisfied with going to college as I wanted to be earning my own money, so I explored apprenticeship opportunities.
After leaving sixth form early, I took up an apprenticeship at Notts County Football in the Community, studying a Level 2 Business Administration qualification. I didn’t enjoy it that much and decided that route wasn’t for me. I considered a few other opportunities and decided I would like to take up another apprenticeship when I saw a position advertised at emfec.
I am now coming towards the end of my Level 3 qualification in Social Media for Business, working within the marketing team.
What do you think are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
I think the main benefit is the fact that you are basically studying a college course, but you’re also earning money at the same time. It gives you confidence and you feel like you’re going somewhere, as well as gaining vital experience of the workplace environment from as young as 16 years old.
What do you feel you have gained from your apprenticeship?
Firstly, I’ve gained a qualification and I’m due to complete my second one in the coming months, so obviously that’s a big plus. But also, I think it helps you grow as a person.
Before I worked at emfec I didn’t know how to communicate with adults properly, or how to hold myself in a professional environment, because I’d never had to do it before. I genuinely feel I have matured as a person and my confidence levels have rocketed.
Since being here I can communicate much better and I feel much more suited to being in a working environment. It’s helped me to improve my skills, realise my strengths, develop new skills, and I feel that is reflected in the work I produce. The difference in quality and accuracy in my work now compared to when I started is clear to see, which is a good indication of the positive impact apprenticeships can have.
How have ABC Awards and emfec supported you with your apprenticeship and what opportunities have you been given?
They have supported me no end here. I’ve had some ups and downs since joining, but whenever I’ve had a down, the team are always there to offer support and help, and I know I’m not the only person here who can say that.
I’ve also been given the opportunities to go out on projects to help with my personal development, go to conferences, and I’m also looking to attend a couple of courses to aid my progression so that once I’ve completed my apprenticeship, I am better prepared to go on to study a higher level qualification.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship as a good stepping stone for young people leaving school?
Absolutely, I think, particularly at my school, you’re pushed towards going to sixth form, and then to university. We never really got educated about apprenticeships or any other opportunities for that matter. I knew since I started secondary school that I didn’t want to go to university as I didn’t think it would suit me. But I also knew that, despite wanting to gain more qualifications, I didn’t want to go to college because I wanted to be making money.
Apprenticeships are perfect for me because, as well as getting paid, you also gain qualifications for life and really valuable experience of being in the workplace, which you wouldn’t get from going to college or university. I think they really help to build you as a person in all areas and I strongly recommend them.
Do you feel that completing an apprenticeship has broadened your horizon?
Yes, definitely. Before starting my apprenticeship with emfec I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. But now I’ve gained more skills and realised my potential and opportunities, I have a much better indication of what I want to do, and can see several different paths I could go down now to better myself and my career, which is really positive, and I have the teams at both emfec and ABC Awards to thank for that.
If you could change one thing about apprenticeships, what would it be and why?
If I’m honest I wouldn’t change a lot, I’m genuinely really pleased with how my apprenticeship has gone so far. I think some of the work towards the qualifications is sometimes not challenging enough. Having said that, the questions can often be very vague, which can make completing some tasks rather awkward, but that might only apply to my specific qualification.
Do you think there is a certain stigma attached to doing an apprenticeship?
Yes I do, and it’s a shame. I think people see apprenticeships as being for the people who aren’t “good enough” to go to university, which is total nonsense. University isn’t for everyone, and I genuinely believe that I’m better off from doing an apprenticeship than I would be had I have gone to university. People go to uni for years, accumulate thousands of pounds worth of debt, and even then aren’t guaranteed a job after completing their course. I went down the apprenticeship route and I have no debt, I’ve been getting paid for the past 2-3 years, I’ve gained qualifications and genuinely useful experience, and I’ve been offered a permanent position once I’ve completed my qualification.
I think apprenticeships are the way forward, and I think they should be given a lot more credit, appreciation and recognition as a way to develop yourself, your portfolio and your career opportunities.
It’s great to see first- hand, how when given a chance, young people can really develop and grow into a work place environment and prove to themselves and others that going to university or college doesn’t need to be the only route into a successful career.
To find out how you can be supported with your apprenticeship needs, visit the ABC Awards website or download the ABC Awards Apprenticeship Guide.