It’s National Apprenticeship Week in the UK. Across the country, young people and the businesses that employ them, will be shouting as loud as they can about the impact of the “new apprenticeship”.
The old dictionary definitions of the terms seem strange to modern eyes now. The Cambridge English Dictionary describes an apprentice as “someone who has agreed to work for a skilled person for a particular period of time and often for low payment, in order to learn that person’s skills”.
It’s true that, traditionally, small businesses or sole-traders would use a “master-apprentice” model to train up new members of staff and teach them a craft or trade. This model has now been adapted within new Government frameworks, with most now offering a mixture of practical work, formal and informal training and qualifications, and networking. Pay-packets during these multi-year programmes means that apprenticeships are an attractive option for young people when compared with higher education.
Visa invests heavily when they employ young people and train them. It’s like we’re Padawans to the Jedi Council. Padawans who get seriously exciting practical experience, backed up by foundation degrees in Computing and IT Practice. Padawans who get salaries beyond the living wage. Padawans who are treated like permanent employees, with development plans. And hey, if we work hard enough, and keep working beyond our apprenticeships, we know we might be sat on the Jedi Council someday… making the decisions, calling the shots.
We’re valued as Padawans because we deliver.
I’m in my final year of a three-year programme, in a specialist placement working in the UK & Ireland Sales and Marketing team. Specifically, I work on Market Development, expanding access to Visa cards & technology. One of the key reasons I am able to deliver value to the company is the four other placements I’ve completed in the business. Each of the 6-month roles gave me necessary experience as well as insight that helps me with what I do now.
I now have the capability to deliver data-driven reports and propositions fast, using my experience with the data fields of Visa’s Authorisations and Settlement systems. I train other members of staff how to use valuable tools which will make their jobs easier. I bring fresh ideas and the perspective of a millennial.
I get both experience and training which makes me pleased that I’ve chosen this career path.
Two of my fellow apprentices, Simeon and Emma are first and second year apprentices respectively, and despite being newer to Visa, are also already making contributions to the company.
Emma’s current role is with our Project Management Office, and she has told me how she has been supporting a project with exceptionally tight deadlines. Like me, Emma can bring her experience from other placement areas, and her flexibility, to help out her colleagues in her department.
But that’s not enough for Emma – she is always looking to go above and beyond her job role. Working closely with our Corporate and Social Responsibility team, she’ll be helping out at a local Job Centre, delivering a massive benefit to the community by helping them get to grips with IT – a valuable skill they’ll no doubt use in future work opportunities and in life.
Simeon is just starting out – he’s only been with us six months and we’ve already put him through a few exams to test his
strength with the Force knowledge of Visa systems. He needs this knowledge because he’s on the frontline answering client questions just the same as any other full-time employee in his department. On top of that, he’s juggling his own development with his Diploma and Foundation Degree. When Simeon moves to a different area, he’ll have an exemplary insight into clients’ wants and needs, and an exceptionally detailed knowledge about our systems.
He didn’t have long to train up when he joined, and perhaps it was a bit of a shock to go straight into intensive job training – but he passed the exams with flying colours because, in my experience, apprentices have an incredible willingness to learn and Simeon is no exception.
National Apprenticeship Week is a busy time for us, we’ll carry on delivering value but we’ll also be putting ourselves in the spotlight a bit. We’re taking our apprenticeship on the road, supporting loads of activity across the week. You can follow what we get up to this week, and across the year, by following our Twitter, @VEApprentices.
Dan Herridge is a third year apprentice, soon to graduate, working with our UK and Ireland Sales and Marketing team. No stranger to writing for Visa Vision, Dan has fresh opinions and perspectives on payments.
Emma Wing is a second year apprentice who has achieved many different things in Visa but is currently supporting projects in our PMO (Project Management Office) and arranging exceptional Social and CSR events for all the apprentices.
Simeon is a member of our latest cohort of apprentices at Visa Europe, who joined us in September 2015. He’s about to finish his first placement, which has been in Client Services – the placement which probably gives the broadest perspective on Visa.