Apprenticeships are a great way to fill the gap between school or to get back into work after a career break. Initially the employer has lower expectations than they do for job and this gives the apprentice time to pick up the cunning to survive in the workplace. In our opinion the British education system is failing employers. There is far too much emphasis on project work, yes we need teamworking skills but above all we need the ability to cram information, disect it and repackage it in different guises for a multitude of everyday situations. That's what exam only education brings.

There is no age barrier to an apprenticeship and apprenticeships can vary in length. Some replace missing GCSE grades with NVQ's in work-based topics, others go through to HND and degrees also.

Its not a quick way to big bucks but with the right employer it is definitely a sure way to get ahead long term without the debt that you would otherwise be left with from University.
Mary-Anne Bowring

How Ringley suggests any responsible employer can support apprentices

National Apprenticeship Weekis in march each year and is themed "Apprenticeships Deliver". The week is dedicated to showcase the benefits high quality apprenticeships deliver for both apprentices and their employers.

Apprenticeship Ambassador Mary-Anne Bowring, Managing Director of The Ringley Group Property Services company tells us why every company who takes CSR (corporate social responsibility) seriously should immediately take steps not only if they have an empty desk to fill it with an apprentice but also to show their support to young people.

Interested, then here's the steps Mary-anne says you should take

  1. create a CSR page on your website
  2. adopt the 'youth charter' The 'youth charter' is at the centre of the getting young people focussed on their future. You'll find it at www.youthcharter.co.uk and you can sign up to show your support at The Recruitment and Employment Confederations website www.rec.uk.uk.
  3. review your business growth strategy – see when someone leaves if you can take on an apprentice, this gives great opportunities for other staff to test their training and mentoring skills, brings great enthusiasm into an organisation and helps re-inforce a learning culture, something that any organisation in pursuit of excellence needs.
  4. find out about the various apprenticeship routes, the number of frameworks are growing, for example Ringley supports Apprentices on the Customer Services Framework, Property Services, Accounting Technician and Creative & Digital Media Apprentices.
  5. either you can go to a training provider, useful if you need support throughout the process and they become the employer for year 1, otherwise you can go to an apprenticeship delivery organisation and employ the apprentice direct.
  6. when taking on your 1st apprentice you can claim a £1,500 allowance from the government.

To support National Apprenticeship week Ringley invites local employers to drop in to Ringley House, 1 Castle Road to see their apprenticeship programme in action. Right now Ringley have 9 apprentices and have graduated 3 already. This will give local employers the opportunity to (a) meet an apprentice (b) understand how their training works.

At Ringley, we strongly believe in growing staff from within and have proven that when you replace one leaver with two apprentices the extra research and data you can collect can spur business growth and marketing efforts that otherwise we would not have time to resource. Ringley were voted ‘Local Employer of the Year 2012" as chosen by the Camden & Islington chamber of commerce – perhaps this is one of the reasons why.

There’s more about Ringley’s success on apprenticeships at here >>

Case study Customer Service Apprentice - Jasper

Jasper 1 The London Apprenticeship Company helped Jasper secure his apprenticeship at Ringley Group. Jasper has worked in an administrative and client liaison role, where he has proven himself to be a real asset to the team. Ringley are a group of property companies specialising in Property Management, Survey, Engineering, Estate Agency and Legal and Management Company, so Jasper has had to work within a dynamic and diverse environment, dealing with lots of different departments, people, deadlines and challenges.

Jasper 2 LAC caught up with Jasper to see how he was getting on, this is what he had to say: “The last year really has been exciting. It all started when Annette interviewed me for a Carpentry apprenticeship last year. After interviewing me, and talking through my options, Annette and I came to the conclusion that, actually, I may be better suited to something else, and thankfully, Annette had just the job in mind, apprenticeship at Ringley.

Jasper 3 When I got the job with Ringley I was over the moon! I started out in the Surveying team, where Lee was my line manager, and straight away I knew I was going to like it. Since then I have moved from the Surveying department to Legal department. These days I find myself dealing with queries, that when I first started, I thought sounded like another language! I am learning so much, that really is the best thing about my apprenticeship at Ringley.

Jasper4 Before my apprenticeship started I’d describe myself as underqualified and inexperienced. Now, I don’t have any doubts about my ability to do a good job. I am used to a professional, high pressured work environment. I don’t think A-levels, or even a degree can give you this. I am so grateful for all the support LAC, and in particular Annette offered me. I’d applied to hundreds of jobs with literally no replies, and LAC gave me a certainty about what I wanted to do that I’d been struggling to find on my own.

Quotes
"When I got the job I was over the moon! straight away I knew I was going to like it. Before my apprenticeship started I'd describe myself as underqualified and unexperienced. Now, I don't have any doubts about my ability to do a good job. I am used to a professional , high pressure work environment. I don't think A-levels, or even a degree can give you this"

A message from the ‘Host’ Ringley

“When we first interviewed Jasper we saw something in him straight away that we thought could be built upon here at Ringley. While he didn’t walk into the job and get everything right first time, Jasper’s determination, positive work ethic and initiative have taken him a long way during the past year. Jasper has come a long way, and we can see a clear route of progression for him- he has such a strong foundation now, the experience he will take away from this will never leave him. I’d like to think Ringley have played a big part in shaping, what can only be a very bright future for Jasper.”
MaryAnne Bowring
Group MD

Case study Customer Service Apprentice - Sean

Sean 1 The London Apprenticeship Company (LAC) have just placed Sean in a Business Administration Apprenticeship with “Host” employer- Ringley, a group of property companies, specialising in property management, surveying, engineering, estate agency, legal leasehold and freehold. Sean is currently working within the Public Relations and Communications deparment at Ringley and is so far thoroughly enjoying his time with them. LAC went to catch up with Sean at work to see how it’s all going, here’s what he had to say: LAC has been brilliant at supporting me into an excellent Apprenticeship with a brilliant employer. I literally couldn’t have asked for a better company to be working for or nicer people. Everyone has been extremely helpful. Ringley have given me a really thorough induction so I am getting to know how the whole company works, which also means I get to meet all of the different teams so it’s made communicating with all these new people much easier!

Sean 2 When I finished studying I was really eager to get out into the world of work, which I did. I worked as a Policy Assistant for Westminster City Council for a while, but then I was made redundant. I have done various other part time retail jobs in between, including working for Harrods... but nothing as challenging as this new role as an Apprentice with Ringley. I really feel I have prospects here, I can see where I would like to go, career-wise. It’s a company that really seems to invest in its staff, and I’m just really grateful that LAC put me forward for the interview here.

Sean 3 Since I’ve been at Ringley I feel I have already matured, I have learned how to manage my time better, which is crucial for meeting all the deadlines I have. I think keeping everyone happy isn’t as impossible as it sounds when you are really good at time management! It’s also a bonus having two other apprentices at work with me, though all of the staff seem to treat us as their equals anyway- it’s such a friendly place. Yet at the same time there is a professional, corporate feel, which I really like. I feel like I have a reason to get up everyday and something to contribute to.

Quotes
"All of the staff seem to treat us as their equals - it's such a friendly place, yet at the same time is a professional, corporate feel, which I really like I have a reason to get up everyday and something to contribute to."

A message from the ‘Host’ Ringley

Sean4 “Sean is settling in really well. At the moment he is still in the induction phase, learning the ropes and all the different functions within the departments we have here. At Ringley we like to give all our new apprentices the opportunity to spend some time in the different departments so they get a clear idea of who does what, it makes communication much easier thereafter! I think Sean will do really well here, he has a positive attitude to work and a good work ethic, and he’s doing particularly well working in PR and Communications this week.”
MaryAnne Bowring
Group MD

Case study Finance Apprentice - Jake

Jake 1 London Apprenticeship Company (LAC) have just placed Jake in a Finance Apprenticeship with “Host” employer- Ringley, a group of property companies, specialising in property management, surveying, engineering, estate agency, legal leasehold and freehold. Jake became Ringley’s third apprentice last month and is so far settling in really well. When Jake applied to the Fast Track scheme through LAC’s website he was successful and shortlisted to attend LAC Assessment day. Moving onto the second stage of the LAC selection process, Jake was then put forward for a number of finance roles. Sonia and Annette from LAC’s Business Development (BD) team provided Jake with feedback after each interview, in addition to two formal one-to-one interview preparation sessions. After three interviews, and this pre-interview preparation, Jake was sent for the finance position at Ringley, and to his delight he was of- fered the job!

Jake 2 Sonia and Annette, LAC BD team, commented: “Jake was quite nervous to start with, but the feedback we gained from other employers we had sent him to was always positive, giving us something to work on with Jake, making every interview better than the last, until, success!”

Jake 3 Jake commented: “When I was doing my AS levels I thought I wanted to be- come a PE teacher. But I really wasn’t enjoying my AS level courses at all. So, I started applying for volunteer sports coach roles with local schools, only to find that they hadn’t the budget to pay for my CRB check, being unemployed I didn’t have the budget either! When this didn’t seem to be taking off for me, I thought about what else I was good at. I enjoyed maths at school so I thought maybe a Finance apprenticeship. Attending the LAC assessment day was really helpful and reaffirmed my decision to do Finance. So far I have spent time getting used to the computer system used at Ringley. Once I have a firm grasp on this I will move onto more advanced stuff, like “bank reconciliation!” I haven’t been here that long, but I already feel I’ve learned more here in my induction period than I ever did at school! I was also quite a shy person before, this job is helping me come out of my shell... Anyone considering an apprenticeship should pick up the phone and call LAC, or “Facebook” them!

Quotes
"I enjoyed maths at school started a Finance apprenticeship. I learned more here in my induction than I ever did at school! Anyone considering an apprenticeship should do it."

A message from the ‘Host’ Ringley

Jake4 “Jake is the third musketeer at Ringley! And, of course, he is doing excellently! Jake was quite shy to start out, but I think it worked out quite well for Jake, as Sean had started just a week or so before him, and Jasper is pretty established here now, so it was nice that he had other apprentices to greet him when he ar- rived. Jake is on the Finance apprenticeship and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop into a young professional.”
MaryAnne Bowring
Group MD

Case study IT Apprentice - Samuel

Sam 1 I got to find out about this great company during one of my job search sessions on jobsearch.direct.gov.uk
The truth is that, I totally under-estimated Ringley in terms of what I would gain as an IT developer, initially I wondered what I could learn from a Chartered Surveying/property management company in terms of IT – how mistaken I was.
Ringley is a company that has given me every resource needed to develop my skill sets. I really like the fact that the company is integrating IT into every business aspect and as my classroom/degree learning becomes combined with the learning aspects that only a real business can deliver each day I become more enlightened. Any modern business that wants to be a market leader needs to be serious about IT and I know Ringley is on the right path.

Sam 2 Before I came across Ringley I was focusing my job search more on the IT/Media companies. I simply had not realised that there are actually multi-operational companies such as Ringley that have infused IT as part of their foundations for growth and market success. It is this approach that I believe has helped them stand apart from other competitors, maintain proper business audit trails and to stand as a major competitor in their various markets.

Sam 3 Apart from my IT role, I've been given the opportunity to assist the office in general office tasks. This makes it special at Ringley, I get more exposed and enlightened about business.
Finally, there’s a poster on the wall at Ringley, which says, "Real confidence comes from experience". As an Apprentice, this sentence affirms my role, as I would say everyday for me is an experience filled day and I'm glad to be part of the company.

Quotes
"There's a poster on the wall at Ringley, which says, "real confidence comes from experience" to me this affirms my role....everyday for me is an experience filled day and I'm glad to be part of the company."

Case study IT Apprentice - Alex

Alex 2 After graduating from university and moving back to London I was one of todays forgotten graduates suffering the economic woes of there being fewer graduate jobs than at any time in history. Having had to sign up for Job Seekers Allowance on leaving an appointment, I decided to check the machines they had for anything of interest, one of which was for Ringley. I phoned up and arranged to have an interview

Alex 3 I was not successful at the first round. There were many people at the group interview that morning. My luck changed when about a week later was offered a role and asked if I wanted to start on the following Monday. Since then I have learnt how to program in Ruby, use Source Control and CSS with HTML. During my time here, I have helped fix bugs and add features to existing systems as well as create new systems to be used. The people are a joy to work with, and the process in which things are done has much to be improved but that’s all just a days work in IT.

Quotes
"I was one of today's forgotten graduates....I have learnt how to program in Ruby"

Case study Finance Apprentice - Karim

Karim 1 After I completed my A-levels I was confused on whether I should go to University or look for a job, as the tuition fees are currently at an unbelievable high, this was a major deterrent for me not to go to university. I got in touch with several agencies and connections in finding to find an alternative path and a work based placement, after a few months with no luck I was re-thinking on taking the first option and then a notification popped up, an email from Ringley.e machines they had for anything of interest, one of which was for Ringley. I phoned up and arranged to have an interview
Since I started my apprenticeship in property Finance, one of the biggest decisions in my life, I have no regrets. I have learnt so much in my first 4 months, from month end procedures to comforting clients, preparing for estates meetings and how to manage and be on top of your work load.

Karim 3 I truly believe some of these skills are non existent, you just do not learn them at school. So there is quite a big transition when you get stuck into working life. I have also started AAT course provided by Kaplan through Ringley which has benefited me in brushing up on cash management techniques and again learning new but specific things. The Ringley staff are also made me feel at home and have made it an easy and comfortable transition from being a student to a working man.

Quotes
"I have no regrets. I have learnt so much in my first 4 months....stuff you do not learn them at school. I have also started an AAT course."

Case study IT Apprentice - Christian

Christian The course I did in college gave me a decent foundation in what I wanted to do, unfortunately it wasn’t delivered very well so I left college feeling incomplete in my skill set. Since I wasn’t too sure about university, I decided to take a year out to plan my next move. When I found and completed a part time course I did in my time off, I felt ready to put my skills to good use. After a few months of job searching I came across the advert for a chance of an IT/Media Apprenticeship at Ringley. Since I’d never had a full time job role before, I knew an apprenticeship would be a great start to my career (especially in the career field I want).
So I applied, went through the interview stages and now I’m here at Ringley having one of the best career starts I could ask for. The work is at a level I can handle, I’m always busy; the tasks vary so it never really gets boring, I’ve gained a lot of experience and the people are truly a pleasure to work with. I haven’t started my course yet but once I do, it will be the icing on the cake.

Quotes
"I left college felling incomplete in my skills set, now I'm here at Ringley having one of the best career starts I could ask for."