Featured Apprentice Story
As a retail apprentice, Katie England’s role involved serving customers and making sales, as well as assisting with the day-to-day operation of the branch and processing documentation, however, the pandemic allowed Katie to shine in much more than these areas, resulting in her manager in the Exmouth branch describing her as ‘invaluable crutch’ to the rest of the team. In less than two years she has successfully completed her apprenticeship and been promoted to assistant manager, all during a global pandemic.
The pandemic resulted in most of our apprentices having to work from home with a key focus on encouraging our customers to amend rather than cancel their holidays. This built influence and negotiation skills. As customers became frustrated with the constant changes in the situation the apprentices were required to build their patience and resilience and really build on their customer service skills.
Above all, many of them grew in maturity and confidence as they were in a position to make more independent decisions. The apprentices adapted well to working in a home environment as they tended to have good technology skills and were more able to troubleshoot themselves when technology issues arose. The apprentices also continued with their academic apprenticeship work independently and with zoom training sessions.
When the first lockdown struck, Katie’s role as an apprentice was thrown out of the window in lots of ways as she had to step up to the unique challenges that faced her. Katie not only had to focus on self-directed learning, she took on extra work from colleagues and other stores. Working autonomously, Katie looked after the Facebook pages for six different stores, making her an invaluable part of not only her own branch but many others.
Katie was committed and organised and supported others who were feeling the pressure. Now assistant manager to Rick in the Exmouth branch, he describes Katie as ‘the second half of me’. Showing incredible resilience and leadership during the uncertainty of the pandemic, Katie’s promotion has seen her take responsibility for team motivation within her branch. She uses her initiative in this role, setting challenges, buoying morale and helping her team to work as a cohesive group. Her manager says she has amazing rapport with both customers and colleagues and has been so switched on and supportive throughout the pandemic, always reminding those around her that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.