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Five minutes with our first cohort of apprentices

Friday 2nd November 2018

Transport for the North apprentices share what they’ve learned so far and how it is helping to shape their futures.

Adam Richardson, Directorate Support Apprentice
Damien Plunkett, Finance Officer Apprentice
Aaron Schofield, Strategic Road & High Speed Rail Apprentice
James Beaumont, Strategic Road & High Speed Rail Apprentice 

Tell us about your apprenticeship and the key skills you’re learning.

Adam: “I have really developed my people skills. I’m naturally quite an introvert, so by growing my confidence to liaise with people in a professional setting it has allowed me to effectively manage relationships with colleagues and visitors, while taking real ownership of my responsibilities and completing tasks effectively. I feel I’m now also more approachable and able to solve any problems in a cool-headed manner.”

Damien: “The finance apprenticeship has afforded me the opportunity to learn a series of new skills relating to the accounting profession, including taxation, bookkeeping principles and management accounting techniques. Within the workplace, I have had opportunities to apply these skills in a practical manner.”

Aaron: “I have learnt fantastic new skills in areas such data analysis, GIS (graphical information software) and modelling, and adapted to working in a new professional environment. I am now able to tailor presentations and reports to both technical and non-technical audiences and effectively produce information that may be scrutinised by the public.”

James: “I’ve been heavily involved in evaluation and analysis work, which I hadn’t been involved with previously, and developed strengths that I never thought I would possess. My role has also included a focus on engagement – which included sustainability work with partners at Transport for Greater Manchester. Overall, the apprenticeship has given me the chance to develop knowledge and skills in areas I never thought I would, and I have even found enjoyment in them.”

What opportunities has working at Transport for the North given you?

Adam: “I’m certainly more career-minded now – I feel the apprenticeship has helped me build the foundation for my long-term goals. The role has given me first-hand office experience and taken me out of my comfort zone, which has told me that I want to be involved in an organisation where I can work with people and look after individuals – whether that’s health and safety or another business services position. Also, it’s given me independence and allowed me to go on my first holiday!”

Damien: “Transport for the North has provided me an opportunity to gain experience within an all-encompassing Finance department. Exposure to the full finance function has improved my overall understanding of its functionality and enhanced my confidence in performing my role.”

Aaron: “Working at Transport for the North has allowed me to be a part of the transport scene and contribute to improving this vital lifeline for the economy. It has been hugely beneficial for me to have the opportunity to be so hugely involved in transforming rail travel across the region.”

James: “Transport for the North has given me a great opportunity to pursue something when I was quite uncertain on what industry I wanted to work in – I now have a strong idea of not only the industry, but specific sectors and roles I wish to explore. I think this provides me with higher levels of motivation and also gives me an advantage over other people around my age, as I already have a foot in the door. I saw the apprenticeship as a great opportunity to follow my interest in transport, which has subsequently developed into a passion during my time here.”

Apprentices James Beaumont (left) and Aaron Schofield (centre)

Apprentices Aaron Schofield (left) and James Beaumont (centre)

What has been the highlight of your experience to date?

Adam: “The most satisfying moment has to be when I handled the important Executive Board meeting. It was very early on in my apprenticeship and it was quite daunting, but I effectively organised security and competently liaised with all individuals involved. When those doors shut to start that meeting it told me I was doing the right thing.”

Damien: “The most memorable experience at Transport for the North thus far relates to my contribution in shaping the Finance teams present functionality and the sense of achievement having aided my team in overcoming the initial challenges associated with the transition to a statutory transport body.”

Aaron: “My greatest achievement so far would be the work I have done mapping the Major Road Network, which involved using my technical skills I had learned using GIS, consulting with partners on their proposed amendments and putting in the hours to make the changes and ensuring and ensure they are accurate. This work has then gone on to be used in a response to the Department for Transport on their major road network and is set to be used in Transport for the North Final Strategic Transport Plan.”

James: “The most memorable experience to come from the apprenticeship would have to be my trip to the Netherlands, where I had the opportunity to cycle across the country – which as an avid cyclist was hugely enjoyable and something I may never get the chance to experience again. It’s unique that I am able to pair such experiences with the day-to-day work.”

Why is it so important that Transport for the North supports people at the start of their careers?

Adam: “For me, this apprenticeship has been an important first big step in my career. I’ve had first hand professional experience, while having the opportunity to get involved in helping improve transport for so many people across the North. There are lots of young and capable people across the region who I think, with the right opportunity and encouragement, can become experts in the field and of huge benefit to the North.”

Damien: “Competition within the accounts profession is such that gaining relevant useful experience within a salaried role at the very onset can be difficult to come by. The finance apprenticeship has afforded me an array of practical experiences which will, without doubt, open up to me many avenues within the finance function as I move forward in my career.”

Aaron: “The apprenticeship has sat alongside my studies, where I have been working towards a Level 3 in Transport Planning Technician qualification at Leeds College of Building. The combined academic and professional real-life experience in transport is providing a great foundation for me to progress onto higher education and seek a career in project management.”

James: “There’s so much pressure now on people around the age of 18 to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives. This can result in them being forced down a career path that may not be for them. Apprenticeships offer a logical option of testing out a career and exploring an industry that could be of interest, while simultaneously developing knowledge and gaining industry-recognised qualifications. For me, it’s clearly identified a career path that I want to pursue and allowed me to be part of a unique organisation that supports continuous development of employees.”