Joe @ Beaumont Leys0Joe Sheahan, Assistant Business Manager, Beaumont Leys School
Having completed his A Levels and received offers from three universities, Joe Sheahan, 21, a former student of South Charmwood High School, thought his future plans were set. However, after getting in touch with the Business Manager at the Leicester secondary school, Beaumont Leys, Joe realised there were alternative paths to his chosen career. Joe decided to delay his plans to go to university and accepted an offer to do a one-year business administration apprenticeship at Beaumont Leys - becoming the first apprentice taken on by the school.
Change of plan
Since making the decision to embark on an apprenticeship in 2013, Joe's career has gone from strength-to-strength. Joe started an intermediate apprenticeship at Beaumont Leys, however his abilities and enthusiasm meant he rapidly advanced through the course, being upgraded to an advanced apprenticeship. Upon completing his advanced apprenticeship, Joe progressed into a full-time role as a Business Administrator and, after a year in this position, was promoted to Assistant Business Manager.
Joe explains: "Finding my apprenticeship was a stroke of luck! If I hadn't got in contact with Beaumont Leys I would have probably just gone to university without any work experience or clear direction for my career afterwards." He continues: "I have older brothers who had already been through the university experience and were struggling to find employment. When I was offered the apprenticeship by the school I knew it was right for me. I realised that Beaumont Leys could offer me great career opportunities and I could also get valuable experience from the age of 18 - rather than three or four years down the line."
For Joe, an apprenticeship was the perfect way to acclimatise to the working world, as a route to gaining core transferable skills as well as more technical expertise. Joe explains: "The great thing about apprenticeships is that your colleagues are aware you don't have any prior experience and will happily help you with anything. It makes entering the working world less of a shock." He continues: "It's the small things you learn that make the biggest difference, like answering the phone or just getting used to going to work every day - things you would never experience at university."
As a large secondary school, Beaumont Leys provided Joe with the opportunity to work in the different areas - including two reception areas, a finance department, and a business office. However, sharing an office with the Business Manager meant that Joe was never far away from someone to guide and mentor him. He explains: "As my apprenticeship progressed I was given more and more responsibility but always felt confident in my abilities due to all the great support around me."
Apprenticeships were not only a new experience for Joe but for Beaumont Leys too. In fact, the school have been so impressed with Joe, they've now started taking on more apprentices in other areas of the school, such as the kitchen and the office.
Dawn Parkinson, Headteacher at Beaumont Leys says: "We have used apprenticeships at Beaumont Leys School since 2013. For us they are an effective way to get staff who are eager to learn into school, who bring a new perspective to their role through their studies. We are a school that values and benefits from great loyalty from our long serving staff and the desire to "grow our own" fits entirely with the apprenticeship model."
"As a school there are a number of areas where apprenticeships would work well: ICT, community use and marketing and permises, to name a few. There are a number of routes to choose from when recruiting staff. Based on my experience I would not hesitate to look to the apprenticeship market for our recruitment."
On the career ladder
Having experienced working in a school environment, Joe is keen to remain. With aspirations to become a School Business Manager in the next couple of years, Joe wants to continue learning to enhance his career. He is now taking a Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management and says university is not off the cards, Joe explains: "I have always planned to complete a degree and I belieive it can now help me to progress even futher in my career."
Joe's advice to young people is: "Apprenticeships are a great way of getting your foot on the career ladder and provide the best of both worlds." He continues: "Be open minded and thank about what path suits you best. Not having a degree doesn't have to be a barrier and is always something you can do as part of your apprenticeship or later on."
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