Selina Richards

Published November 14th, 2013 | Features

Different routes


Selina always knew she wanted to get a job straight from school. This is how she’s doing it…

“I did OK in my GCSEs, getting good grades in English and Maths and was really delighted with A star grades in Drama but it was a real job I wanted, not to stay on and study. Work in an office environment has always been top of my list – I’d already done a week’s work experience at Progress to Excellence, and it was the best thing ever. It was a whole new experience going into a busy workplace and it was scary at first but I knew right away this was where I wanted to be.  Amazing to think that although I’m only 18, I’ve been working for close to two years now – and that means independence, earning money and having a chance to work my way up the career ladder. I know people the same age as me who are in dead-end jobs – that’s not for me as I believe you’ve got to grab every opportunity you can to reach your goals in life. Things could have been so different if I hadn’t been offered an Apprenticeship at Progress to Excellence.

That’s the amazing thing about this job – I’m actually doing real work while I’m training

Selina started a year’s Apprenticeship at Progress to Excellence (see our back page) in 2012 and achieved Business Administration Level 2. She is now working towards her Information Technology Qualification (ITQ) Level 3, which she will complete next summer.

“My day actually starts the night before as I like to plan what I’m going to wear for work. Everyone dresses smartly and I get a real buzz out of looking nice – Friday is always Dress Down Day though and we can wear jeans and t-shirts. I’m always in bed by 10 as I have an early start in the morning.

“The alarm goes off at 6.45. I get a lift into work from my mum and I’m there for 7.45. We’re all very lucky at Progress to Excellence as we have a fantastic place to work – it’s on the waterfront at Birkenhead and the views are brilliant. Not that I’ve got time to look as I’m always busy!

“My job mainly involves processing data for learners so they can complete their training and assessment. I’m also training and upskilling on the company software which links in with my ITQ qualification. That’s the amazing thing about this job – I’m actually doing real work while I’m training. It involves computes, which I reckon I’ve always been quite good at. Before you know it, it’s lunchtime. That means either going to the staff room or out shopping, something I definitely do when it’s pay day!

“I remember when I saw my very first pay slip. I was so excited that I absolutely had to celebrate by going out for some new clothes and make-up!

“The afternoon flies by, particularly as I get on really well with the people I work with. Although we’ve all got our own roles, we work together as a team. For instance, I’ve got my own job to do but if anyone else needs a hand, sometimes I can help out. It’s an open office so you get a chance to find out what other people’s jobs are all about. And yes, I do sometimes make the tea! In fact, we nearly all do as there’s a departmental rota.

“Finishing time for me is 4.30 but I don’t go until 5 so I can get a lift again from my mum. Then I’m home. Time to kick off my shoes and relax after a busy but rewarding day. How do I unwind? By singing! I really love it and hopefully the neighbours do too! I’m a big fan of Eva Cassidy and regularly sing karaoke when I go to the pub with my boyfriend.

“I’m having a brilliant time and would love to see myself moving on over the years into more senior roles within the company.”

The basics…

So, what exactly is an Apprenticeship? An Apprenticeship is a real job with training so you can earn while you learn and pick up recognised qualifications as you go. If you live in England, are over 16 and not in full time education you can apply. They take between one and four years to complete and cover 1,500 job roles in a wide range of industries.

What types of Apprenticeships are there? Apprenticeships are available in all sectors and industries throughout England. There are more than 280 different types of Apprenticeships available offering over 1,500 job roles, in a range of industry sectors, from engineering to boat building, veterinary nursing to accountancy. They generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Intermediate Level Apprenticeships
  • Advanced Level Apprenticeships
  • Higher Apprenticeships

What are the advantages of an Apprenticeship? Key benefits include earning a salary, having paid holidays, receiving training, gaining qualifications, and learning job-specific skills. Getting qualified while on the job can also mean:

  • you work better and more effectively
  • it can set you up to move into better jobs
  • you get better pay
  • you get to experience different challenges your existing skills and knowledge are recognised and can help you gain a qualification faster
  • you learn at your own pace and get support when you need it
  • more job security
  • you gain skills and knowledge which can be used across a range of jobs and industries.

Visit for more information, including lots of great videos about becoming an Apprentice.

Apprenticeships: How to make a flying start

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