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Rising up the ranks with an Advanced Level Apprenticeship

16 Nov

When you think ‘apprentice’, your mind naturally wanders towards either Alan Sugar’s annual televised sackathon, or to those straight out of education embarking on the first steps of their career.

But according to a 2017 House of Commons report, those over the age of 25 account for 46% of apprenticeship starts, up from 43% in 2016. 7% of those had hit the age of 60 before signing up.

The number of people starting an apprenticeship higher up the corporate food chain has almost doubled in the past two years, contributing 7% of the apprentice market. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the talent that exists within the organisation, wanting to ensure they have the right skills for both current roles and the emerging jobs that will shape the future of their business.

Travis Perkins Group is well aware of the need to raise and standardise skill levels across a range of occupations. Whatever part you play within the company, and whatever stage you’re at in your career, it’s never too late to get yourself on a scheme that will serve you well for years to come.

Katy Pengilley is one such team member who is taking an already interesting progression through the business to the next level. We spoke to her about moving from her current Internal Recruiter position to a team leader, via a high-level apprenticeship. 

“I started in recruitment externally in 2011 as a recruitment coordinator and I’ve grown from there”

Joining Travis Perkins in 2013, Katy has recruited across marketing, commercial, HR, legal, property and head office support positions. Now taking care of Benchmarx roles, Katy recruits for kitchen designers, branch managers, assistant branch managers and telesales staff. This experience of end-to-end recruitment gave her a great number of leadership qualities, and as her team grew, so did the need for someone with her attributes in a more senior role.

“When I joined the Benchmarx team in 2017 I was clear with my manager that I wanted progression and to develop myself”

Paying great plaudits to her manager, Bex Pooley, Katy stressed the importance of putting yourself out there. While there’s always going to be natural progression, the real opportunities present themselves to the self-starters - the people who figure out what they want to do and position themselves within a role, seeing to it that their managers recognise their merit.

When Katy was told she could be put forward for a leaders apprenticeship scheme, she jumped at the chance.

“I section out my day, basing my time around completing my apprenticeship commitments. Having a supportive person behind you is a real help”

At the moment Katy is juggling a workload of active recruiting, leading a small team and an apprenticeship too. While it sounds like a lot to take on, the practical nature of work is as important in any apprenticeship as the theory. Keeping your feet grounded, understanding the latest trends and knowing how the day-to-day aspects of the department work isn’t something you should lose.

“This first module in the 12 month programme is all around developing ‘me’. It’s research on unconscious bias, so I’m learning more about diversity, inclusion, and how that’s applied in our company strategy and the operating plan”

The Managing a Team Level 3 Apprenticeship that Katy has embarked upon is available to anyone in a First Line Management position across Travis Perkins, whether that be in branch, distribution or head office. Some of Katy's fellow scheme members include colleagues from other head office functions and people who are in management roles. 

Some of the other modules on the horizon are based around seeing things from a business and team perspective, as well as more practical exercises such as delivering a presentation or chairing a meeting, and communication.

“I’m learning to introduce more flexibility in my communication style. This is useful when speaking to people internally and externally in a number of different situations”

Beyond a host of new skills, the apprenticeship ends with a recognised Chartered Institute of Management qualification. A worthy recognition for the hard yards that have been put in.

Katy says she’s stayed at Travis Perkins Group because of the culture, people and opportunities. A recent highlight was visiting a recruitment festival, spending time with her extended team, listening to influential figures discuss the latest industry developments.

She believes that as long as you have a supportive manager, there’s no reason why you can’t grow your role and get what you want from your career. That’s exactly the kind of attitude we love to see from those looking to join our apprentice schemes. When Katy is able to apply this philosophy from a senior position, it should seep down throughout the team she oversees.

A UK Government study of 555 decision-makers in organisations across England found 59% thought that apprenticeships gave them the ability to grow the business from the bottom up. A third of employers thought apprentices were more loyal than other types of employees - at Travis Perkins Group these are both areas we firmly believe in, helping form part of our unique culture.

Katy’s story demonstrates how we put this philosophy into practice, with a range of apprentice roles available across the country, whatever your level of expertise.

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