As one of the most widely respected ways of getting ahead in an industry, apprenticeships have seen a dramatic rise in uptake over the last ten years - according to Government statistics, apprenticeship starts have risen from an average of 468,000 between 2011 and 2019, compared with 234,000 between 2001 and 2010. At Sofology, we offer a range of learning and development opportunities to give our Sofologists the best avenues to advance their careers. As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke to some of our current and previous apprentices to see where they’ve come and what the future holds as an apprentice.
Jack Wynn - Commercial Finance Analyst
Jack started working at Sofology in December 2015, moving into his current role as Commercial Finance Analyst through an apprenticeship at our Support Office in Golborne.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
Having left college with my AS levels, I decided to continue my education through channels other than University. Now I’ve almost completed two apprenticeships with Sofology, the first was as a Customer Services apprentice which I did whilst working two jobs after leaving college. I’m now set to complete a level 4 diploma in Data Analytics, which will enhance my skills and help me to better understand the role I am in and advance my future career.
What support did you receive from your manager and colleagues?
The support has always been there for me. My tutor meeting my from the qualification provider gave me the knowledge I needed to succeed, but it was the on hand support from my line manager, as well as the professionals in our People Team that has helped me to succeed. I’ve tried to pursue my qualifications as independently as possible, but it’s been nice having the help there if I’ve needed it.
Did you find securing the apprenticeship difficult?
Not at all. I approached Leigh Cleary, Talent and Learning advisor in the People Team, and within a couple of weeks we met various times to select and review available courses. We met with the training provider who explained the qualification in more detail before accepting the course offer and pursuing the qualification. It was really that simple.
What does the future hold for you as you reach completion of your qualification?
I am due to finish my Level 4 Diploma in February or March 2020, so I’m looking forward to having that qualification under my belt. Regarding the other 2 qualifications I have already gained, they’ve helped me get my current role in Finance and laid the foundations for the qualification I look forward to achieving.
Amy Whitehead - Graduate Finance Analyst
Starting her career as an apprentice Sales Ledger at Sofology, Amy has spent 2 years working towards her recent success, completing her apprenticeship and working as a Graduate Finance Analyst.
Why did you choose to pursue an apprenticeship?
My style of learning has always been suited to a more vocational role. I benefit from being ‘hands-on’ as well as in a classroom rather than solely learning in a classroom. An apprenticeship was the right path for me to pursue qualifications whilst also working and being paid - I gained first hand experience of the role and experience working in a busy office environment, and that’s helped my personal growth and my career.
How have you juggled your learning and work effectively?
For me, the best way to juggle learning and work was to keep a positive attitude. I always made sure I made a plan and stuck to it, even when things got challenging. I learned that I needed to ask for help if given things that overstretched my abilities early on, and made sure that the work and the learning was at the right pace for me to get to grips with the job properly.
Were you always interested in a career in finance?
Honestly, no. I always thought I would move into a creative career, but I found out over time that I preferred keeping my creative skills as a hobby. Focusing on my stronger academic skills has been more rewarding at work and I enjoyed learning more about finance as the apprenticeship progressed and ended. I’m really happy that I pursued finance even though I never would have thought I would end up having a career in this area.
What’s your career like now you’ve completed your apprenticeship?
Completing my apprenticeship felt fantastic as I’d finally achieved the qualification I’d worked so hard for. My career now is heading in the right direction and is consistently relevant to my education. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for me!
Gemma Herbertson - Junior Developer Apprentice
Gemma started with Sofology through her apprenticeship that commenced in January 2020. Having only just started her apprenticeship and career at Sofology, Gemma looks forward to getting to know her role and the company as the year goes on.
Were you always interested in a career in Software Development?
Software development was something I first came across during previous roles in Systems Development. I found myself really interested and keen to learn more about the development process and the skills required - logic, creativity and problem solving. It took me a long time to build up the courage to pursue the qualifications, but Sofology has been great in giving me the opportunity to do a Software Development apprenticeship.
Has doing the apprenticeship helped with your confidence?
Starting on this journey has given me a great sense of purpose, as I know I’m working towards an achievable goal with great support. Although starting to learn again after such a long break from education has come with its challenges, the structure of the training has allowed me to work at my own pace and grow in confidence day by day.
What are the top 3 benefits you’ve gained thanks to starting this apprenticeship?
So far I’ve gained valuable experience and skills in a growing market and industry, I’ve gained a greater sense of inclusion and I now feel I have real job satisfaction - I’m seeing a tangible outcome from my work. I’m really looking forward to where my apprenticeship will take me.