Newcastle Building Society's HR Director, Karen Anderson, and Customer Adviser, Callum Parkinson, explain how apprenticeships operate at the region's leading Building Society.
Sum up your business story so far in the time it takes to make a brew.
We are a financial services organisation based in North East England. We employ around 1,100 staff through our headquarter buildings in Newcastle and North Tyneside and through our branch network, which stretches as far south as Stokesley, up to Berwick and across to Penrith. We also have three subsidiary businesses: one providing financial advice; an IT business; and Newcastle Strategic Solutions which delivers savings management services, leading edge technology and customer service solutions for a range of banks and other financial institutions.
So we’re not just a building society - we can offer people variety in terms of employment, with opportunities ranging from IT to marketing, finance and retail roles.
What types of apprenticeships do you offer?
We offer a mix of apprenticeships at different levels and in different areas of the business including customer service, mortgage advice, IT and legal.
What value do apprentices bring to your business?
Apprenticeships have been a really positive development for our business. We’re really excited about our ambitions for our apprenticeship programme and we want to offer opportunities for talented people across the North East. Our region produces some fantastic talent and we want to work with people coming from a diverse range of backgrounds. It can be difficult for young people from less privileged areas to realise their potential and we see our apprenticeship programme as a really important alternative to the university route.
Is there a reason why you’d choose an apprentice over a graduate?
We offer a graduate programme as well and there is a place for both, but apprenticeships really do offer an alternative to university where you can be paid a good salary while you learn on the job. Our apprenticeship programme plays a really important role in what we do for North East communities – part of our contract with the region is to be a great employer and we have great ambitions for what our apprenticeship programme can do.
How do you go about recruiting apprentices and is it difficult?
We use our branch networks, local networking events, our careers site and social media to recruit. We’re also in the process of creating new partnerships with organisations that work with young people from less advantaged areas which could also potentially feed into our schemes
Would you recommend apprenticeships to others?
Absolutely. If not, you could be missing out on some real talent.
In three words why would you recommend degree apprentices to other businesses?
Alternative talent acquisition.
Callum Parkinson, Customer Adviser
What kind of apprenticeship are you doing?
I’m doing a three year Mortgage Advice apprenticeship and when I complete it I will be a fully-fledged Mortgage Adviser and will have achieved my CMAP qualifications (Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice).
What excited you about the apprenticeship scheme?
The Society put together a really attractive package. I’ve been to university and have worked at other companies in the past but my previous roles didn’t offer the training opportunities I wanted. This role offered a clear pathway and at the end of the day I will come out with very useful qualifications and a really good start to potentially gaining further qualifications in the financial industry.
What’s the best bit about splitting time between work and study?
While I’m working, I know I’m helping the team here by doing my role and being a part of the business gives me confidence that I’m going into my exams well prepared. I feel as though I’m earning my keep as an employee and I’m really involved with the Society. I’ve experienced so many different areas of the business, I’ve learnt so much and been given support at the same time.
I have an exam coming up and the business is very flexible in terms of giving me time for revision and studying - they want me to succeed as much as I want to succeed.
How does it feel to be part of the world of work?
Coming in to work, I felt useful and involved instantly. Everyone made me feel very welcome and I really feel like I’m a part of the biggest building society in the North East. I absolutely love coming in to work and the support network here is second to none – all they want is for you to succeed and be happy.
Is there a reason why you chose to follow the apprenticeship route over other routes available to you?
The major thing that made me decide to do an apprenticeship is that it was an opportunity to work for such as well renowned business. In other jobs I’ve had, the development opportunities aren’t always there but with an apprenticeship you’re always learning, there is progression built into the role and your pathway is clear.
Would you recommend others become an apprentice too?
Yes I would. In the past, the focus for my generation has been on going to university but that is so expensive. Apprenticeships can give you a lot more options. You can get a great education and you’re supported every step of the way. It’s a much better way of learning in my opinion.