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Employer Partner Wins Apprentice Employer of the Year

17 December 2019

One of Capital City College Training’s employer partners, The Pension Protection Fund (PPF), recently won the Apprentice Employer of the Year category at the Croydon Business Awards. We caught up with employees Sharon Godfrey, Talent Development Manager, and Rishma Poojara, Commercial Apprentice, who were at the awards and told us what this meant to them and the PPF.

“Winning this award is great recognition for all the work we have been doing,” said Sharon. “The awards were a really nice evening and we took all our apprentices. As levy payers, we want to do the right thing and develop future talent. We create opportunities for young talent and often recruit from the local community so this external recognition at the Croydon Awards means a lot to us.”

Levy paying companies make a yearly payment of 0.5% of their total payroll bill, which they then use to pay for apprenticeships in their company. This is a government initiative to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships in the UK.

Sharon continued: “Rishma was our first apprentice back in 2018 and following her success in the company, we now have 12 apprentices working at the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). They work in a range of areas and at a number of different levels (from 2 right up to level 6). All our apprentices get to do ‘real work’ because we really want to make sure that what they learn is real and relevant to the career they want to build. Everyone within this business understands this which is what makes it so valuable for our apprentices.

“As well as new employees who are on apprenticeships, we are also up-skilling our current employees. This gives them an opportunity to learn new skills and gain sector-relevant qualifications. What we like about apprenticeships are they give all involved relevant career qualifications and knowledge on the job.”

Rishma was PPF’s first-ever apprentice when she started her Level 4 Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply in 2018. Rishma studies at college one day each week and works the rest of the week at PPF. One year into her two-year course, Rishma only has one exam, a project and a Q&A to complete until she will be awarded her well-deserved pass.

Rishma said, “I was looking for a fresh start. After studying at university-level, and now with two kids, I wanted to kick-start my career. CCCT and PPF offered me a great opportunity for something new and challenging.

“I am in a team of 10 and we all work really closely. It is great working end-to-end in every process, it means I fully understand what the business is doing and how it is done, rather than being stuck on one small part of the job like some other apprentices. The theory I learn in class, I then put into practice at work.”

I have enjoyed everything about it so far. This career offers me the opportunity to travel around the world and learn so much. All in all, it is a brilliant opportunity for me to grow both in my career and as a person.

Working with Capital City College Training, The Pension Protection Fund plans to employ 10 new apprentices each year.

RISHMA POJARA:
“Why I chose to do an apprenticeship – my journey”

“I completed school like everyone else, went on to do my A-levels and then to university.  It wasn’t easy as I had my son to look after as well, but I got through it with the right support.

The path I wanted to take was in life sciences, but I just couldn’t find a way to get into the industry.

“It is tough when just completing a qualification is not enough. Back in 2009, I was looking for an apprenticeship but the opportunities were just not there. To make the situation even more difficult, I suffered from a rare form of brain injury which took me almost 3 years to recover.

“Fast forward, in my early 30s I had to re-evaluate which career path I wanted to take, and have a balanced home/working life.

“I came across the Commercial Apprentice role at the Pension Protection Fund and decided to do a bit of research on Procurement and Supply and the CIPS Level 4 qualification. The more I looked into it, I knew that this wasn’t just a job but a fantastic career opportunity, to learn and train on the job. I was able to transfer the skills and knowledge I have gained over the last two years whilst volunteering.

“I met my Account Manager Luke Mills at college, he advised me on how to approach the job interview and he supported me throughout the process. This gave me a lot of confidence and self-belief.

“I attend college once a week for my weekly workshops which gives me the opportunity to meet other students and network and to get the support I need to complete my two years of training. You do have to put the extra time in to study and practise exam questions, but it is manageable and my home life has not been affected, with the support network around me I get the time to study, work and spend time with my family, which has been amazing.

“My line manager and the Commercial team have been absolutely amazing, supportive and patient, and have put time aside to work with me to go through what I am learning at college and put it into practice and my day-to-day activities. 

“I have learnt and developed a lot of new skills and I look forward to completing my apprenticeship and developing my career in Procurement and Supply. What I want from this apprenticeship is to take the knowledge, skills and behaviours I have learnt in theory and to apply it to my role and to understand the processes and best practice. 

“My advice to anyone looking to do an apprenticeship is ‘go for it!’ – I thought I was too old and wouldn’t fit in, but it does not matter, as long as you put in the work and set yourself objectives and goals and show your employer that you have what it takes. 

“Doing an apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to learn valuable skills, earn a salary and gain independence, jump-start my career and has opened many doors to my future.”

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