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National Apprenticeship Week 2013: Apprentice says opportunity changed her life

National Apprenticeship Week 2013: Apprentice says opportunity changed her life

A former apprentice who excelled after securing a permanent position with one of the UK’s largest industrial recruitment businesses says the work-based learning opportunity changed her life.

Stephanie Gilding, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, has gone from strength to strength since joining the Leeds branch of gap personnel as a 16-year-old apprentice in August 2010.

Six months after starting her career at gap as a trainee branch administrator, during which time she gained an NVQ level 2 in business and administration, Stephanie was offered a permanent position.

Fast forward to 2013 and Stephanie, now 20, is a confident young recruitment professional and a key member of gap’s Leeds operation.

As account co-ordinator she regularly works closely with some of Yorkshire’s largest manufacturing, recycling and waste management companies, to whom gap supplies temporary workers. 

It wasn’t always plain sailing for Stephanie, however. After leaving Crofton High School in Wakefield with nine A*-C GCSEs, she admits to feeling & lsquo;lost’.

Sharing her story to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week 2013, she said: “I enrolled to study animal management at college, but to be honest my heart wasn’t really in it.

“I just felt like I was doing the course for the sake of it, so after a couple of months I decided to leave college and enter the world of work.

“I got a job with a firm of solicitors, but really didn’t like the atmosphere and left there after a few months.

“At this point I felt a little bit lost and wasn’t at all sure where my career was headed.”

It was then that Stephanie found out about the apprenticeship scheme with gap through training firm JHP Group.

“It all happened very quickly”, she said. “I had the interview, gap offered me the job and I started the following Monday.”

Since then Stephanie hasn’t looked back, seizing the opportunity to build a career at gap.

She has added to her first NVQ qualification by gaining an NVQ level 3 in customer service, and was even named service champion of the year at gap’s in-house 2012 awards ceremony.

She said: “Since being given the chance to shine by gap I just feel so much more confident in my own abilities, and more positive about the future.

“By learning on the job and combining work with study, I’ve managed to gain some really valuable skills.

“In some ways I think my experience has put me in a better position than my friends who went to university to study for a degree.

“I’m in a settled routine of work, I’ve got a great bunch of work colleagues, and I’ve developed skills and experience within a specific industry.

“Looking back, securing the apprenticeship with gap was a massive moment for me. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say it changed my life.” 

Paul Illingworth, manager of gap personnel’s Leeds branch, said: “Stephanie is extremely diligent, professional and hard working.

“It has been a pleasure to see her develop new skills and grow in confidence over the past three years. I hope she will remain a part of the gap family for many years to come.”

Stephanie is one of more than 20 current and former apprentices working within the gap personnel group across its different regions, divisions, and head office in Wrexham, North Wales.

gap plans to take on at least 10 apprentices over the coming months.

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