YOUNG VOICES

Apprentice Of The Week: It's A Myth We Don't Get Paid Much. You Can Earn Loads

24/01/2014 14:32 GMT | Updated 24/01/2014 14:59 GMT
Neopost

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Introducing this week’s apprentice..

Name: Georgia Cosma

Job Title: Process Analyst

Company: Neopost Ltd.

Apprenticeship NVQ Level 4 in Project Management, Prince 2, Six Sigma

What's a typical day like for you?

My job at Neopost is to help evolve and improve the company. I spend my day helping employees from all functions in the business voice their opinions on how a process or system can be improved, and structuring projects so they can be delivered as efficiently and smoothly as possible, with the best outcomes. I use knowledge gained from different departments to make improvements to the company, and show the decision makers why the project will help, and what it would do for the business.

What has been the most memorable day of your apprenticeship so far?

The first day of our MONET project. MONET (Merging Our Neopost Enterprise Tools) is a project aimed at changing and improving Neopost’s internal systems all over the world, and I am part of the UK MONET team – one of about ten people. Sitting in that initial meeting with managers and directors and people from all over Europe was terrifying, especially as I was the youngest by a long way! This day was the start of Neopost’s evolution into the 21st century, and I was very lucky to be involved.

Why did you decide to become an apprentice?

Before I became an apprentice, I went to college and worked two jobs. I enjoyed learning, but as most people would agree, earning money was nice! I didn’t actually make a conscious decision that I wanted to do an Apprenticeship, but once the idea was presented to me by Connexions, I knew it was the right route for me.

Earning and learning seemed perfect, especially when it’s so hard for young people to get jobs, so whilst building skills and gaining qualifications I get to earn money, which is the cherry on top!

What are the best things about being an apprentice?

As an apprentice, you don’t just have the day job, there is room for progression. Neopost has a framework which means that apprentices build their own skills through their involvement in CSR, undergoing training such as PowerPoint and Excel, and having a Mentor to help them through their Apprenticeship.

What are the best things about working in the industry you work in?

Neopost is steadily evolving. In our industry, we need to make sure we move with the times. We are introducing new products and services at a rapid rate, and seeing how quickly technology changes, it is exciting to experience new innovations appearing all the time.

What's the most surprising thing you've learnt during your apprenticeship?

I think I’ve learned a lot about myself. Before I started my Apprenticeship, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do in life, and an office job wasn’t exactly a first choice! But I thought I would give it a go, and now I couldn’t think of doing anything else! I love getting up early, wearing smart business clothes, and seeing the people I see every day, some of whom will be lifelong friends. I love the feeling of accomplishment when a project is completed and the improvements start to show, and I love seeing the money raised from our CSR work going to our Charity of the Year.

What would you say to someone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?

After everything my Apprenticeship has done for me, including helping me decide that I would like to be a Project Manager, giving me invaluable skills both in and out of the workplace, and much more, I believe Apprenticeships are they way to go for young people. If you want a degree, you can still get one, and I will be in the next couple of years, the only difference is that I won’t have debt! If you are considering an Apprenticeship, go for it!

What do you think are the biggest myths about apprenticeships?

Over the last few decades, Apprenticeships have been mainly in manual work like Carpentry and Building. But under the current Government, Apprenticeship opportunities in business and other sectors have increased. There are now so many different options and levels for apprentices and several large employers now have an Apprenticeship programme.

Another myth is the pay. Though the National Minimum Wage for apprentices is quite low, it seems quite uncommon for employers to be paying the NMW for an apprentice. Most employers would pay similar if not the same amount for an apprentice as they would for a new employee, and I know a few businesses that actually pay higher, as they are putting their apprentices through a graduate scheme.

What do you expect to be doing in 10 years time?

In ten years time, I hope to be a fully qualified Project Manager, helping the business progress even further. With the world of technology changing so quickly, there will always be room for improvements and evolution, so project management will always be needed.

After an employer has nurtured an Apprentice from a young age, I know most apprentices feel a certain sense of loyalty towards their company. I hope to stay at Neopost and give back to them.

Why an apprenticeship rather than university?

Doing an Apprenticeship isn’t just about a qualification – you also get skills you would never get from university, including knowing how to behave and present yourself to others in the work place, professionalism, and experience of how a business works. You could read all of the books in the world about business and never gain as much as you would if you experienced it in person.

Choosing whether or not to go to university is a big decision, and, like a lot of other young people, one I had to make. I am now at the age that my friends are finishing university, and cannot get a job. If you were an employer, would you choose the person with three years experience and the same qualifications, or the person that has been in a classroom for three years with no experience?

These days, there are a lot more options for young people, and you could always get a degree later in life. I am very happy that I chose to start my career as an apprentice rather than go to university, as I am now a good few years ahead of those that have just walked into the world of business.

What advice would you give someone leaving school or college now?

Go for an Apprenticeship! If you don’t know what you want to do, start on one that could cover all bases like Business Administration or Customer Service, which are now the most common types of Apprenticeships in businesses. From there you will learn about the company and what you would like to do or be well suited to do, and like me, you will find a profession that you enjoy.

For more information on apprenticeships visit apprenticeships.org.uk