Apprenticeships – An opportunity like no other | Deloitte UK has been saved
Jade Harris joined Deloitte at age 17 as a business administration apprentice in our Cardiff Delivery Centre. Five years on, she’s now an assistant manager and an apprentice coordinator.
Deloitte’s Business Administration apprenticeship, which I later found out is unique to the firm’s operations in Cardiff, is an entry level programme that combines learning on the job with part-time study at Cardiff & Vale College and leads to a recognised qualification.
It stood out to me for many reasons and I remember I particularly appreciated the minimum entry requirements – to me, they seemed pretty achievable. From what I could see, the firm was really giving young people, perhaps unsure of how to get their career started, a chance to earn and learn. I didn’t think twice about applying. Until then, I had always assumed I would need to go to university and get a good degree just to be in with a chance of gaining an opportunity like the one I eventually found at Deloitte.
I think the opportunity to earn and learn at the same time is a great draw for many people, especially as an apprenticeship allows you to gain real life work experience very quickly. I did initially find it difficult seeing all my friends go to university and questioned whether I had made the right choice. But when I saw so many of them struggle to find jobs afterwards, often being rejected due to a lack of experience, I knew that I had made the right decision and I was in the best place I could be.
I learned how to juggle college and work. I diarised as much as I could in advance and learned very early on to create an equal balance of everything so my life outside of work wasn’t impacted. This really helped me maintain my positive attitude towards the whole earn and learn set-up and made me really appreciate the support system I had around me. I had a great team and manager who supported me with my workload whilst I was working towards my qualification. They would pick up the work for me on a Tuesday when I attended college or provide cover for me if I had college reviews on other days.
I am extremely happy with how my career has progressed. When I joined Deloitte at age 17, I didn’t think at age 22 I would be an assistant manager, leading my own team. I was fortunate to be successful at promotion one month after finishing my apprenticeship, and then again two years later when I became an assistant manager. With each of these progressions I’ve had a number of opportunities to develop which in turn helped me progress further within the business.
Deloitte has given me a wealth of knowledge and training has broadened my skillset - soft skills such as communication, time management etc as well as technical skills too. The biggest skill of all was learning and understanding the operations of a business which then became my main role for almost four years. I have been able to use the training I’ve received and share my knowledge with other members of the team, including those who hadn’t completed the apprenticeship.
I try to attend as much training as possible and also seek out opportunities where I can to develop and broaden my skills and knowledge further. Getting involved with various projects across the team has also helped me as there’s always something new to learn from each individual. And with my depth of knowledge, I’ve become the go-to person for many people within my team
Most recently I’ve done a lateral move within my division which means I can gain more experience as a people leader, which will help me to fulfil my goal of becoming a manager. Part of my everyday role is to be an apprentice coordinator for the new business administration apprentices that come into the firm. I love to see their progression and development from when they first start right the way through to the end of their apprenticeship. I love being able to help them gain a recognisable qualification and also develop themselves professionally.
I have weekly calls with the apprentices to chat about how they are finding college work alongside their day to day work at Deloitte. I also check their progress by giving them targets and ensure they are on track to pass their exams. In line with this, I host calls with the college on a monthly basis to provide any feedback, for example how to make the units in college relatable to the work they are doing at Deloitte, and also to understand what units the apprentices are currently doing and what are scheduled next.
I also have calls with the apprentices to discuss their goals once they finish their apprenticeship. I highlight their options and we explore how we can go about achieving those. For example, someone might want to move onto our higher apprenticeship programme, which is called BrightStart.
I very much believe in the success of Deloitte’s business administration apprenticeship - it’s a great scheme with a growing number of intakes. I think it is important to get the message out there about apprenticeships in general and how significant opportunities like these are. From my own experience, I would really like to see them considered and talked about more in schools as an option for starting your career. I don’t think everyone understands that, even though you’re an apprentice and you may be learning on the job, the work you are doing is valued and it’s no different to that of your colleagues. Apprentices are fully-fledged members of the team and, in my view, some of the most determined people you will ever come across.
I have achieved my short-term goals but still have some long-term goals to achieve, such as becoming a manager. I think an important goal of mine has to always be happy in what I’m doing, and I feel like I’ve always achieved that.
I also aspire to be a voice for apprentices and an advocate for the apprenticeship. Apprenticeship Week Wales is just one way to get the word out there. I’d like to help as many people as I can recognise what a fantastic opportunity an apprenticeship is and how they can tailor it to their long-term goals.
Apprenticeship Week Wales celebrates apprenticeships and the value they bring to employers and learners across Wales.
Deloitte is a supporter of Apprenticeship Week Wales and, by sharing our stories, we would like to encourage everyone to consider how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career. We’re one of a number of employers celebrating the apprenticeship community, highlighting the opportunities to earn a wage and gain new skills and qualifications, and showcasing the resilience of apprentices and their employers during the pandemic.
Deloitte’s virtual Spring careers festival is underway - a programme of virtual events that potential applicants can join, as well as parents, teachers and careers advisors. It’s open to everyone and focused on helping you learn more and make career decisions. Events range from discover sessions, where people can chat online with Deloitte people about different opportunities at our firm, upskill sessions – on demand or live – to boost your strengths or find out more about our assessment process, as well as ‘Meet Deloitte’ sessions.
Jade is an assistant manager within the service control team based in Cardiff. Her role involves MI and operations supporting the Engagement Support Services division. She joined the firm as an apprentice in 2017 and gained a diploma in business administration.