More young people than ever are going on to higher education, but this isn’t the only route available once they finish their school education. For those who still want to secure a qualification but without the financial repercussions that come with university and student debt, there is a different path.
At BNP Paribas Personal Finance UK, we believe apprenticeships can be a great alternative to university. The combination of hands-on work experience and qualifications that apprenticeships offer makes them a brilliant route into the workplace, and opens up a whole world of opportunities.
We spoke to Cameron Ford, an apprentice in our motor team, to find out about his journey with the company.
Cameron’s Apprenticeship Journey
Like many of his peers, Cameron went straight to university after school, but by his second year he found himself becoming disheartened by the investment in time and finances he was putting in, in comparison to what he felt he was getting out of it.
As a result, Cameron decided to leave university and started looking at what other options were out there. Having experienced the world of work previously, and with a residual hunger to learn from his time at university, he knew he wanted to do something that combined the two and decided to begin an apprenticeship here at our Solihull headquarters.
Starting his placement in the collections department, Cameron simultaneously studied for his NVQ in customer services while working in his day-to-day role. With support from his team and managers, he met his monthly targets whilst being pro-active in taking on extra responsibilities in order to gain exposure to other departments in the wider business.
Being part of much larger company means there’s always room for growth and movement, and when one such opportunity arose for Cameron a year into his apprenticeship, he jumped at the chance and was soon offered the position in the motor finance team.
Unlike a stand-alone qualification, an apprenticeship gives you real-world experience in a working environment and being exposed to this early on helped Cameron develop his confidence, as well as a whole range of other skills.
“I used to feel anxious when I had to call people, but the more I did it, the more my nerves settled. Everyone here at BNP Paribas Personal Finance is so approachable and there’s a really supportive culture.” said Cameron - something that has been a key factor in his impressive progression within the company.
We’re proud to offer development hours to all our employees, and for our apprentices this consists of one day a week where they can learn about other roles in the business and their positions within the wider company. They give you the chance to explore what other opportunities lie in the business for you and can help steer you towards your career path.
Of course, it’s not just the apprentices that benefit from apprenticeships, employers can also reap the rewards from having fresh new talent in the company. Retention rates are typically higher when an employee has trained with a company from a young age and employers can also be sure that the training they’ve received is suitable for the role they’re being asked to undertake.
Cameron describes apprentices as “some of the most enthusiastic in the workplace who have a real hunger for learning and development” and he’s been using his experience and skills to help inspire other young people through BNP Paribas Personal Finance’s work with Dallaglio RugbyWorks. By sharing advice with young people in the same position he was in a few years ago, he’s now enjoying being able to pass what he’s learned on to his peers and the next generation of workers.
Once he’s completed his apprenticeship, Cameron will be armed with strong work experience and work-related qualifications that will put him in a great position to advance and flourish in his career.
On where he sees himself in five years, Cameron simply said: “You won’t need to ask who I am in the business, you’ll already know” – and for all the right reasons!
Cameron’s top tips:
- Be open-minded about what you want to do – there are so many different apprenticeships available so don’t limit yourself. Although it might not be exactly the role you want, getting into a company can always open doors to new opportunities.
- Be willing to apply yourself – you get out of your apprenticeship what you put into it; hard work really does pay off.
- Know where to look! To find out more about apprenticeships, visit https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship
To find out more about Cameron’s journey watch his video here