David Stoddard, COO at UK professional services consultancy, Barnett Waddingham, shares his views on the benefits of investing in people at the early stage of their careers, and shares his top tops for people looking to start their career journeys.
The crisis of the past year has thrown the job market into a spin and hit many industries particularly hard, with some unable to function, let alone take on new roles. But many employers have remained agile, remotely hiring and training new recruits, and continuing to invest in people at the early stage of their careers.
For many financial and professional services firms, recruiting apprentices hasn’t been sacrificed in the tumultuous economic environment.
If anything, many firms have recognised the value of multiplicity of thought, with opportunities to think freely and creatively, and challenge conventional approaches in light of the learnings from the pandemic; all the more essential in such a fast-moving and digitally-reliant world.
Where possible, industries should be collaborating to create space for apprentice and graduate roles, establishing early careers networks, and creating a good environment, albeit virtually, for new recruits to both learn and have a good early career experience.
Not only will this provide hope and broaden opportunities for young people, but it’ll enrich companies and help drive their business forward.
Top top tips for apprentices
- Don’t aim for a job title
While you may have a role in mind, it narrows your options if you pinpoint and strive for a specific level or job title in your search. Instead, it can be beneficial to think more broadly. Is there something you’re passionate about, you enjoy, or you’re particularly good at? In what sectors do you feel you can make a difference? With these things in mind, it’s easier to find a company that shares your values and beliefs, and that will support, challenge and inspire you. Focus on those things and the opportunities will present themselves.
- Build your network
Having a strong network has been proven as a powerful way of developing your career. It opens up opportunities in the job market, connects you with interesting people at different levels in their career, and helps you develop new skill sets, knowledge, and powerful stories and insights. It doesn’t have to be ruthless or difficult. It’s about taking the time to reach out to people who inspire you and be willing to learn from them.
- Consider work/ life balance
The value of work/ life balance has been highlighted over the past year as people have adjusted to having their home as the office, and the office as their home. But the same goes for anyone actively looking for a new role. Striking a balance between the job search, and time to focus on your wellbeing, is crucial. It enables you to stay focused on the task at hand, motivated and resilient, while not losing sight of the areas that inspire you.
Angela Love, director at Active Workplace Solutions, a company which specialises in workplace change from design and build to furnishings and business relocation shares her view.
Successfully training and developing skills in a new apprentice often comes down to them being paired with the right mentor. The whole process is focused on a willingness to teach and learn and enthusiasm for the sector. Both parties should understand that employment is as much an educational program as it is a working job. For the mentor, it requires a level of commitment in terms of time, patience and, importantly, the ability to listen and lead. The workplace today has changed considerably – remote working, new technologies, virtual collaboration – they are new skills that we’re all learning. These challenges offer new opportunities as well though. A young apprentice will have much to learn from a mature team member, but now, more than ever, there is plenty that a senior team member can learn from their younger peer. Both will enjoy enhanced job satisfaction as a result. Similarly, a self-motivated rising star taking an apprentice under their wing offers insight into paths available to the apprentice in terms of who they could become, as well as providing the mentor valuable leadership and management skills.