Jill Campbell (pictured) has experienced apprenticeships from both perspectives, as an apprentice employer and as someone who began her career as an apprentice herself.
Today, Jill is one of seven partners at JWPCreers, a chartered accountancy firm with offices in York and Selby. However, 17 years ago, she herself was a young person looking for an alternative to university, as she explains:
“When I was doing my A levels I knew for certain that I didn’t want to go to university but I wasn’t sure which route I wanted to take. I decided I wanted to earn while I was learning in the workplace. It was a friend who pointed me in the direction of the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), and highlighted where that could take me.”
Having secured an AAT apprenticeship position with an accountancy firm in York, Jill went on to complete all four levels of the training. She followed this up studying for further accountancy exams, whilst simultaneously undertaking a degree programme. Jill became a fully qualified accountant in 2005 and took a job at JWPCreers two years later. Over the years she gradually gained seniority, eventually becoming partner in 2014. One aspect of her new role as partner was to take responsibility for recruiting and training apprentices. Although the company had previously taken on apprentices, Jill’s first arrived in 2012. Since then there have been others and JWPCreers is currently recruiting for a further three. The business has various recruitment routes to ensure they attract a wide range of strong candidates, which Jill outlines:
“Some send in CVs, but more recently I’ve advertised through our local college to target recent A level finishers, which is good because the college do the initial legwork of collating applicants. I have also attended an apprentice recruitment event run by the local council, which had a fantastic turnout. Then there’s our internal scheme, which lets current members of staff put forward interested friends for a small incentive.”
During their first year with JWPCreers, apprentices have no formal studies, allowing them to get settled into working life and make sure this is the path they want to pursue. However, the firm does sign its new apprentices up to short one-day courses that may enrich their professional skills and less formal training is given in-house.
“Although the apprentices don’t go out to college during the first year, they are put on an informal training programme. They’re assigned to a manager / mentor who is responsible for their internal, hands-on day-to-day training. Having the first year free of ongoing, formal training lets us see if they have what it takes, and whether they have a flair for this type of work.”
Jill is very enthusiastic about apprenticeships, as well she might be given that her own fast-moving career began with one. She believes apprenticeships offer SMEs a high calibre of candidates and the opportunity to shape a young person’s raw talent into something with significant business value. She says:
“In my personal opinion there aren’t any downsides to apprenticeships. All of the apprentices we’ve had have been extremely eager to come on board and develop through a training programme whilst doing day-to-day hands-on work as well. We’re able to train an apprentice up from scratch with our methods, how we like to get things done. I have always found that by investing the time in them throughout their apprenticeships they stay loyal and want to stay with the firm and further their studies.”
Hear about Jill’s apprenticeship journey as an apprentice and employer in our recent Apprenticemakers LIVE webinar,