I began my apprenticeship with Romney Marsh Wools at the age of 20, having previously studied Animal Management at Hadlow College for two years and had a gap year whilst looking for work or further opportunities. The advert posted by Romney Marsh Wools for a Social Media apprentice was sent to me by the Kent Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs and I immediately thought it could be a good opportunity.
I was grateful to receive the position and begin my work and studies. I took to my job at Romney Marsh Wools very quickly, largely because I am lucky enough to have a great boss who is flexible towards working methods and highly supportive, and my love of my job and the business I am placed with has never been in question.
However, the studies part of my apprenticeship was not quite such plain sailing. For the first year of my (supposedly 1 year) apprenticeship I studied with a company which has since been closed down. Throughout my studies I felt that the training provider was not giving the support or level of education required for a Level 3 course and after the company closed down 12 months into a 12 month course with around 6 months’ worth of work left to complete both my boss and I were left confused and frustrated.
My training was then transferred to a second training provider, Profile Ltd., who have been wonderful in their support and training methods. My new assessor, Andrea, is very supportive and comes into the office to assess my work rather than having me go to a class. She is flexible enough to allow me to work at my pace, completing assignments which I find easier in shorter spaces of time and giving me longer for more complicated assignments. From the beginning she was very understanding of the difficult situation that my boss and I had been put in and has worked hard to encourage me to keep going and complete the course.
I am now less than two weeks (all being well!) away from completion and, although it has taken six months longer than expected and been very frustrating at times, I would absolutely recommend the apprenticeship route to anybody looking for further education. Whether as a first job and continued learning opportunity or retraining for a new career, I firmly believe that apprenticeships work!
I have always loved learning, but I hated the classroom environment and after two years at college I decided that university was not going to be for me. This made it hard to decide where to go next and what to do, since all my life I’d planned on studying a degree at Hadlow college. When I found the apprenticeship I realised that this approach was perfect for me. It allowed me to continue learning and training without being stuck in a classroom, and it also allowed me to get my first real experience of working life.
To any young people who either do not excel in academic subjects or have simply had enough of being in a classroom, I would urge you to consider an apprenticeship. The important things to remember, I would say, are the following points:
- The Company – Who you are working for is incredibly important, if you love your work like I do the rest should fall into place and your boss and colleagues should help you with your studies. You may even get offered a permanent job when the apprenticeship ends.
- The Course – Make sure the subject suits you. With apprenticeships, prior knowledge is not usually required but it will help you. The more interested you are in your studies the easier the assignments will be.
- The Training Provider – Do your research, along with your boss if possible, and try to find a reputable company to avoid the situation I was left in. I would wholeheartedly suggest Profile Ltd. to anyone in the Kent area studying a course which they provide.
- The Money – This is an important part of an apprenticeship, studying whilst being paid makes a big difference to those of us who are unemployed and have no idea what to do next! But prepare yourself for the fact that apprenticeship wages are NOT the same as a normal working wage. As long as you are prepared to do your studies, learn on the job and put everything you have into it, it will be worth the lower salary in the end.
- Your Attitude – At the end of the day, the only person who can make this work for you is YOU. If you’re determined to succeed and try your best all the time, you should find that it all comes together eventually (even if you have to take the long way round!) It would have been so easy for me to give up and drop out when my first provider closed down but I was determined to keep going, and I’m coming away much better off for it.
So with 2 weeks left of my apprenticeship, most people would be asking what happens next?! I’m fortunate that my boss and I have been discussing this right from the beginning of my course, so I know what’s next. I plan to study a further one-year apprenticeship, this time a Level 3 in Business & Administration, still with Romney Marsh Wools of course! I am very grateful to know that Profile Ltd. offer this course so I can continue my studies with Andrea, who I know I work well with. Following that second apprenticeship I hope I shall be able to stay on with Romney Marsh Wools full time, taking a more in-depth role as the company continues to expand. I am also looking into the possibility of setting up as a freelance Digital Marketing Consultant, as I know whenever I talk to business owners about what I study, the first thing they say is ALWAYS “well that’s what I need because I have no idea how to use social media” so I’m certain there’s a big market opportunity right there!
So to sum up, if you’re considering studying as an apprentice, I would definitely say do it! And if you are a business owner considering taking on an apprentice, again I’d say do it!