Former Pupils’ Perspectives on Apprenticeships
Bolton School Careers

Head of Girls’ Division, Mrs Lynne Kyle, introduced the third virtual Perspectives lecture of the academic year at Bolton School and the second held in conjunction with the Boys’ Division. Under the microscope this time around were apprenticeships. Sixth Form student Sophie Patel espoused their benefits, explaining how you can gain experience and a salary at the same time as you work towards a qualification, and how you can instantly apply what you learn in the workplace. She also acknowledged that they can be time-consuming to apply for and that it is usually highly competitive to secure a place. Sophie then introduced former pupil Patrick, the first of the evening’s panellists.

Patrick told how, after leaving Bolton School in 2014, he went on to undertake two apprenticeships. His first was with Horwich Farrelly Solicitors where he undertook a Level 3 CILEX (Chartered Institute of Litigation Executives) at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Working in fraud litigation, his qualification helped take him from the role of Admin Assistant to Case Handler. He recalled how, in 2017, he moved on to join Barclays Bank for a period of four years during which time he achieved a First in his BSc in Digital Technology Solutions (cyber pathway) degree at MMU. Patrick said a mentor at Barclays offered great support along the way as he became a software engineer within corporate banking. His next move, in 2021, was to Greater Manchester Police where he became a Cyber Crime Investigator, which saw him battling hackers and online scams. His current role, which he started this year, is with Lloyds Bank where he has joined the ransomware team.

Considering the question of why young people should undertake an apprenticeship, he spoke of how you do not build up any student debt, how you gain excellent work experience and how you can get your ‘foot in the door’ of a company. Patrick said that the skills required to succeed in an apprenticeship are hard work and organisation and, when applying, good research capabilities.

Next to present was Emily Rajbhandari, who left Bolton School in 2020. Emily spoke about her time in the Audit Department with Ernst & Young (EY) in Leeds and the Business Apprenticeship she was undertaking there. She told how she had always wanted to be a Chartered Accountant and how she knew that the Audit office offered a wide range of opportunities. The first two years she referred to as ‘getting your hands dirty’ as a Junior Associate. Now, she said, she is more senior she is starting to field questions from new graduate arrivals. Emily explained how she is working towards her Level 7 qualification in Accountancy and Taxation whilst earning a salary. She also told how she has completed ten of the fifteen exams required to become a chartered accountant. Besides earning a decent income, she also did not feel that she had missed the university experience as it had been blighted by Covid. Apprenticeships, she felt, meant you could develop some great connections and avoid the highly competitive graduate market.

The final speaker, introduced by Head of Economics in the Girls’ Division Miss Jones, was Lee Richardson, who works as a Detective Inspector for Lancashire Constabulary. Lee told how, after seven years at Bolton School from 1993 to 2000, he read Chemistry and Management at Nottingham University whilst holding a dream of becoming a fighter pilot. Alas, his eyesight was not quite perfect and, after a conversation with another former pupil who was a police officer, he joined the Lancashire force in 2007 as a Response Officer. From there he gained several promotions to take him to his current role which also sees him head up the Force’s investigative training department and new recruit training. Lee explained how, up until recently, you could leave the police after a fulfilling 30-year career with no formal qualifications. This had prompted many forces to join up with a local university to deliver BSc Honours degrees in Professional Policing. In effect, he said, you are doing a police apprenticeship but nobody would know; you earn the same money as a regular officer and undertake the same kind of work. Your time, he said, alternates between a few months on the job and a few months studying at university. Lee said that one of the benefits of a job with the police is the range of careers and specialisms that you can go into as you get older. He felt the skills needed to be a good police officer were a desire to want to help those in need, a strong moral compass and a good awareness of your own personal values.

As ever, the audience asked a good range of insightful questions. Do you think you have missed the full university experience? How competitive is it get onto an apprenticeship? How early do you need to start your application? Can you start a police apprenticeship straight after school? Why did you choose the Leeds office rather than the Manchester office with EY? Do they offer degree apprenticeships at EY too? When you are working, does the academic workload sometimes feel overwhelming? Where is the best place to start your research about apprenticeships? Why a forensic apprenticeship rather than a forensic degree?

Perspective Lectures are free to attend and open to pupils in Year 9 and above, parents, alumni and all other members of the school and local community.

You can watch the full lecture again here.

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