At Sharp UK, we’re all about training and development, and this ‘National Apprenticeship Week’ we are celebrating some of our current and former apprentices who work here at Sharp UK.
National Apprenticeship Week 2024 (5 – 11 February) is a week-long celebration across the UK to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make on individuals, organisations, and the wider economy. This year’s theme is #SkillsForLife.
Jon Boardman, Learning & Development Advisor looks after our apprenticeships at Sharp UK. He makes up part of the Learning & Development Team with Paul O’Hara, Learning and Development Manager. Together they facilitate team member development through team personality profiling and helping to orchestrate both external and internal training, to develop skills and knowledge which contributes to our collective success in becoming the technology partner of choice.
We currently have over 30 apprentices at Sharp UK, working across our different offices, in a variety of roles from IT to Marketing to Finance. In this blog, we talk to 6 of these apprentices, exploring their reasons for choosing an apprenticeship in their chosen field, what they love most about their apprenticeship, how they have handled challenges that have occurred during their apprenticeship, and more. Discover more about each of their roles and apprenticeships below:
Alexis Zuluetta – Apprentice Technical Consultant, Home-Based
‘I am currently taking a Technical Consultant Apprenticeship at Sharp UK.’
Harvey Fitzsimmons – Business Development Executive, Warrington Office
‘I am currently undertaking the IT Technical Sales Level 3 Apprenticeship with Pareto, working in the Warrington office at Sharp UK.’
Holly Mead – Administration Assistant, Thames Valley Office
‘I am currently enrolled on a level 4 junior management consultancy apprenticeship, however, my job role at Sharp UK is called an administration assistant - a junior management consultancy apprenticeship is the apprenticeship with criteria that links the most to my job role.’
Inga Drabble – Business Development Executive, Warrington Office
‘I work in sales as a Business Development Executive, doing an IT Technical Sales Apprenticeship Level 3.’
Jack Tolley – Apprentice Support Analyst, West Brom Office
‘I am on the Information Communication Technician apprenticeship in IT Services.’
Rhys Young – Apprentice Customer Support Engineer, Swanley Office
‘I am currently an Apprentice Customer Support Engineer based out of Swanley.’
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship in your chosen area?
Alexis: Seeing the endless benefits and opportunities for someone who wanted to pursue Software Development has influenced my choices towards the apprenticeship.
Harvey: When applying for jobs post-university I chose Sharp as a company over anything else – the apprenticeship came as a bonus and I saw it as an opportunity to focus my career a little more.
Holly: I chose to do my apprenticeship as it is a very broad course, so it has enabled me to develop my knowledge in all areas. My course includes assignments including marketing, finance, team working skills, communication skills, etc.
Inga: I chose to do one because it is part of my role within the Sharp Graduate Team to help me learn more about how to be an effective salesperson.
Jack: I have been destined for IT since birth, with my first conversations being “Mummy, computer!” – I’ve grown up around computers and it was the clear next step. I learnt to program at age 10 and it’s just blown up from there.
Rhys: I chose to do my apprenticeship in the Service sector as I do want to become an engineer in the future and doing my apprenticeship in service is the route towards that.
What do you enjoy most about the area that you are working and studying within, or your apprenticeship itself?
Alexis: It's like a journey of discovering something new daily and weaving my creativity and cognition into reality.
Harvey: The aspect I like most within my role is the people, especially the group of 7 in the ‘Sales Academy’ – they keep my head up when it’s a tough day but also challenge me on occasion. In terms of the role itself, I have enjoyed focusing myself a bit more recently, as the general telesales role I was put into initially had a lack of focus. I have enjoyed my recent transition into workflow solutions a lot more enjoyable.
Holly: How broad, it is. I am constantly learning how to do new things. I enjoy being able to meet new people within Sharp UK and have therefore had the opportunity to build professional relationships.
Inga: I like the fact it is customer-facing, I like to help our clients or prospects find ways to streamline processes to make their jobs easier, reduce stress, and increase time. The part of my apprenticeship I enjoy the most is our training days because the team works together and we can all share our own personal views and findings from the previous sessions’ learning.
Jack: Mostly my team and colleagues, and being pushed outside of my comfort zone. I am challenged daily and I learn skills I will take with me for life.
Rhys: The thing I like the most about the area in which I am working is that I am respected by my peers and know it is a place where I will be learning the ins and outs of Sharp Printers. I enjoy having the responsibility of getting machines prepped and being trusted to get tasks done.
Have you faced any challenges during your apprenticeship, and how did you handle them?
Holly: The only challenge I have faced is when my tutor was off long-term sick for 6 months. However, my tutor's manager stepped in his place, so my apprenticeship could carry on as normal.
Harvey: I’d say the biggest challenge was the practical element of using the models they teach during the in-person modules in the real world. This is because I found them quite structured and left little flexibility, but as it was a requirement I used them.
Inga: I’ve found it challenging to test out all of the different sales techniques we’ve been taught because it’s so easy to revert to what you know and are comfortable with. But by implementing these different methods, I’ve learnt more as a salesperson and this has led to personal and professional growth.
Rhys: I haven’t faced any challenges during my apprenticeship to date, however, I’m fully confident that if any do come up I will be able to overcome them and be able to turn to help if I need it.
What is a key thing that you are learning from this apprenticeship?
Alexis: Compared to Full Education in Computing, I realise a vibrant distinction when it comes to an apprenticeship. You get the full immersive learning experience, working alongside experienced professionals, which I think is quite cool!
Harvey: I practically had no idea how to approach sales before this apprenticeship so where do I start?! The aspect that has stood out most to me is the in-person training with Jon Beagles because he is unique and great at what he does.
Holly: Since being at Sharp my knowledge of IT has improved before Sharp I didn’t even know the basics.
Inga: I have learnt about a wide range of personality types and how to best communicate with them to help them realise their own needs and requirements.
Jack: Working in a business with over 1000 clients, you learn a lot about different backgrounds/infrastructures and get real exposure to a whole range of systems and processes.
Rhys: I believe that I’m truly learning the responsibility of which a job holds as an adult and I’m not sure if I would learn this elsewhere in another apprenticeship.
Can you share a skill or knowledge you've gained that you think will help you in your future career with Sharp UK?
Harvey: I’d say the account management module stood out to me as it showed me how to build a relationship with a client and allowed me to build rapport with customers even after the initial sale. Building relationships is a skill that I’d need in everyday life anyway.
Holly: I would say having developed a basic knowledge of the IT industry will help me in my future career as IT is so important nowadays and is expanding.
Inga: It’s a bit basic, but the power of silence. I’ve found that helpful when I’m speaking to someone about an issue they may have in their company – and if you stay quiet, they often reel off about how it makes them feel.
Jack: Exposure to systems like VMWare Horizon and vSphere. Industry-leading systems are skills I will take with me for the rest of my professional career.
Rhys: Just knowing when to take a step back and fully look at the situation at hand to make sure I’m taking the right steps to get to the end product and get the job done.
What is the best aspect for you personally and professionally, learning through an apprenticeship?
Harvey: Getting the extra qualification for my CV allows me to have better job prospects in the future and stand out from the crowd of people who have a similar University degree.
Holly: I wanted to go straight into work after college, and finding an apprenticeship has allowed me to do that. An apprenticeship has not only helped me with my confidence, but it has also helped me develop professionally as a person as it has given me the experience of what a job in the business world is really like. The idea of gaining experience on the job is what motivated me to apply for one.
Inga: The best aspect of learning through an apprenticeship is the external group of people who are also there to support and help me in my career.
Jack: The ability to learn from professionals, get a qualification, and work practically is something I wouldn’t give up for the world.
Rhys: Being able to get the “real world” experience while at the same time still learning and being in education.
‘People are at the heart of everything we do at Sharp UK, which is why we recognise the importance of supporting the learning and development of our team, both professionally and personally. Apprenticeships are a key part of helping our people carve their career pathways, and develop their skills, knowledge, and confidence.
With over 30 apprentices spanning across various business areas within Sharp UK including IT Services, Sales, Finance, and Leadership, we have cultivated a culture of learning that demonstrates a true passion to be the best in what we do.’
- Jon Boardman, Learning & Development Advisor at Sharp UK