It’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week (6-10 March 2017) and we felt it was about time to give an update on our own modern apprenticeship adventure.
Our first modern apprentice, Sophie Mayes, has had a successful year since I last caught up with her and she’s now undertaking a new modern apprenticeship with Contract Scotland under the role of Trainee Accountant.
With the success we experienced with Sophie’s apprenticeship we decided to offer the same opportunity to another skilled individual. After a number of interviews, Dionne Brown joined our Finance team in September 2016 as our new Finance Administrator. Dionne kindly set aside some time to share her modern apprenticeship journey so far:
1: Why a modern apprenticeship?
I knew that I didn’t want to go to university or college quite early on. I knew that I learned better when actually doing something and that an apprenticeship would let me get a qualification as well as experience. I didn’t get much advice on apprenticeships when in school or even training about interviews, but after doing some of my own research online I was able to identify the schemes that were available in my area. I got in touch with QA in Glasgow and after completing tests/interviews I was put on to the apprenticeship with Contract Scotland. It was close to home, offered me varied work and the chance to work with different kinds of people.
My brother is in the last year of his electrician apprenticeship and my parents have always drummed into us about the importance of work so I think an apprenticeship was the natural path for me. When I was 14 I made sure I got a part time job (I worked in a hairdressers) and that experience really helped me understand what work was all about.
2: What are the best things about a modern apprenticeship?
Learning on the job. I’ve always learned better by doing something and it’s great to know I’ll be getting a qualification and have something to show for my time here. Some people end up going to university and come away realising maybe it wasn’t what they wanted to study or they end up getting the qualification they want but don’t have the experience to go straight into a job. With a modern apprenticeship, I know that I’ll have experience by the end and even if I didn’t enjoy the direction I’m going in that it was only a year and that I could take up another apprenticeship once I’m done. Lucky for me I’m loving my apprenticeship so far.
3: How have your found your time at Contract Scotland during your apprenticeship?
I’ve loved it. I feel really lucky to have been chosen! When I first read over the opportunity I could tell it would be a really good role and offered more than most modern apprenticeships. I was so nervous about the interviews because I just really wanted to get it! When I joined the Finance team it was a really busy time for the team and I got to see first-hand how well everyone worked together. I love my team! Everyone’s really friendly and sociable. I’m getting to work with a lot of new people and different teams so every day is different.
One of the big benefits of working at Contract Scotland is the training. I just finished an excel course recently and if I had to do that myself it would involve taking time off work and courses like that can be quite expensive. I feel really fortunate because some of my friends working in other places they don’t get the same training opportunities I do. Also, I’ve learning valuable life lessons, like time management and having to say no to people.
4: What does the future hold?
Since I started I’ve been working across credit control, payroll and administration and learning from each section has given a more rounded understanding of the business. I love working in payroll and by having knowledge of credit control I’ve can see how the different parts of the business connect and interact with each other. Learning from Louise in payroll has been great. She has a wealth of knowledge from working a number of roles in the Finance team so I can really see the benefit of spending time in each section. It’s also been really good to see Sophie doing so well in her own apprenticeship; she’s going to do so well in the future and that really inspires me too. I just feel really lucky to be working here and to have the opportunity to learn so much. It’s exciting to think about where I’ll be in a year or two!
5: Would you recommend a modern apprenticeship to others?
Definitely! I just wish modern apprenticeships were better promoted in schools and that the selection of apprenticeships available was be made clearer. I still think that when most people think about an apprenticeship they think about being a mechanic or engineer, but it’s much more than that.
A word from the Head of Finance, Anne Fotheringham:
"Modern Apprenticeships was new to the company in 2015 and we did not know what to expect. After now having 2 successful candidates flourish through the scheme it is something that we will continue to promote. Contract Scotland believe in organic growth and hope to see these 2 young individuals continue their careers with the company."