This week is National Apprentice Week and over the last year our first modern apprentice, Sophie Mayes, joined our Finance Team as Finance Administrator. Sophie took some time out from her work and from gathering evidence for her upcoming assessments to speak with us about her experience so far.
1: Why a modern apprenticeship?
I left school just before I turned 16 as I didn’t enjoy my time in education; l learn more from doing things than from books. It was a colleague of my mum that suggested giving an apprenticeship a try and given I didn’t have much work experience or many qualifications I decided to take a leap of faith and really enjoyed it. This is actually my second apprenticeship, my first one is in customer service. I enjoyed that one so much that I wanted to build on what I learned and joined Contract Scotland last year. This apprenticeship is different because I’ve done one before so I know what’s expected and this one has got a different focus. At the moment, I’m learning processes whereas before I was building my customer service skills. Luckily the two complement each other and I get to use both skills with what I’m doing at Contract Scotland.
2: What are the pros and cons of a modern apprenticeship?
The main advantage is I get work experience as I learn. The balance between learning and working is just right for me and it’s up to me to set the pace and targets for my coursework. The apprenticeship is really like a trial basis for the company and for me; we both get the opportunity to see if we work well together. I have a head on my shoulders and know I can do a job, but if I had to interview for a similar position I know my qualifications might hold me back. Contract Scotland gets to see exactly what I can do and if I do well I get to do more. If things didn’t work out for either of us then I could go and try something new and they could get another apprentice. Compared to studying for 3 years and then realising that a certain career path isn’t for me I get the chance to try something out and gain valuable experience whilst helping the company out.
One thing that could be better is the terminology used in the coursework. Sometimes it isn’t too clear what’s expected from a module, but thankfully I get an invigilator that I meet and stay in touch with if you have any questions. Another thing that could be improved a lot is the choice of apprenticeships. I’m happy with the choices I’ve made, but for others, there might not be the right opportunities for them. By having more companies and industries take part in the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme I think it’ll help with the skills shortage the country’s experiencing.
3: How have your found your time at Contract Scotland during your apprenticeship?
I’ve loved it and I feel I’ve matured a lot during this apprenticeship. I really enjoy the office atmosphere here and my team’s great. I’m learning a lot from them all and I get a lot of job satisfaction from helping with the payroll enquiries.
4: What does the future hold?
I have some more course work to complete and an assessment coming up so I’m focusing on that. I’ve really enjoyed this apprenticeship and I’d think about progressing to the next level of the business and admin apprenticeship I’m doing.
5: Would you recommend a modern apprenticeship to others?
Definitely! The benefits speak for themselves and I just wish the scheme was had more public awareness. I’ve even suggested it to my boyfriend’s sister and friends who are in a similar situation. I’m really positive about my future.
Somethings Sophie’s team had to say about her:
“Marvellous addition to the team.”
“A wee gem”
“Not afraid to try something new”
“Great attention to detail”
“A breath of fresh air”
“Lovely and helpful”
“Brightens up the office”
“A great sense of humour”
“Good at making a cuppa”
Sophie’s manager, Anne Fotheringham (Head of Finance), said, “Sophie started working for Contract Scotland through a modern apprenticeship in May 2015. It has been a very enjoyable experience and Sophie has brought enthusiasm and energy to the finance department. She shows commitment and determination to learn and approaches all tasks in the same manner. From what I have seen Modern Apprenticeship does not give you the relevant qualification as a given either as there is a lot of hard work and evidence that goes into each learning module. I would look to take on a further Modern Apprentice in the future.”