Lauren Wilkinson shares her experience of an Apprenticeship at Bridge
How it started
Lauren Wilkinson, Bridge’s Credit Apprentice, has been with Bridge since July 2021. Previously, Lauren worked in retail alongside studying Business, IT and Theology in college. Whilst university is a path many take, Lauren decided that she wanted to earn a wage whilst learning, with a guaranteed career path at the end. After researching about Apprenticeships, she learnt that this route would help develop her future career whilst still having a practical approach to learning. She heard about the opportunity at Bridge through a family friend and decided that she would go for it.
Since starting at Bridge, Lauren has already been successful in navigating into the credit insurance world. Her proudest moment so far has been passing her 6 month probation period, in which she had to pass an exam. After spending a lot of time preparing for the exam, she’s proud to now be a permanent member of the Bridge team. Her colleagues have supported her a huge amount so far by providing guidance, sharing their expertise and helping her when needed. This support doesn’t stop once she leaves the office though, Lauren’s parents are extremely proud of her and take a keen interest in what she does…they even test her knowledge at home to ensure she understands what she’s learnt!
Mark Johnson, Director of Trade Credit and Lauren’s manager, decided that hiring an Apprentice was the next step for his team after feeling a moral responsibility to pass on the skills and knowledge onto the next generation.
Mark quotes “As someone who’s been in the Credit Insurance industry for many years now there are two things that stand out about our industry:
1) Very few people in this industry woke up one day and thought ‘when I grow up, I want to be in Credit Insurance’
2) As you look around, most Brokers are not bringing through the next generation of Credit Insurance specialists, and none of us are getting any younger!”
The reason Mark opted for the Apprentice Scheme, as opposed to simply recruiting a “junior”, was the clear pathway from training to role, as there is a requirement that at least 20% of the working week is “off the job training”. This has allowed him to expand Lauren’s training beyond the role looking at things such as basic Economics, Accounting and Finance, Risk Management and Underwriting, the wider Professional Market, and so on. While considering clients, what better way to add value than to become a true trusted advisor to the client on multiple fronts?
Building the future
Lauren’s thoroughly enjoying meeting new people, getting to know them and their roles. Already, she is learning new skills at Bridge daily, then applying them to real life. Previously, Lauren felt anxious and quiet when faced with new people and surroundings. However, now that she has settled into Bridge her confidence has grown immensely, especially during client meetings and phone calls to insurers.
Mark also weighs in on the positive impact Lauren has had on the team, the biggest being that the wider team can see “the next generation” of Credit Insurers develop, and they take pride in contributing towards that development. More established members of the Credit team find their own training needs while supporting and guiding Lauren, which has turned into a learning process for everyone involved. Ultimately, the biggest positive impact will be when Lauren finishes the Apprentice scheme which will be her success, but also Bridges’.
When asked about whether she would recommend taking the Apprenticeship route, Lauren replied “Yes! I would undoubtedly recommend doing an Apprenticeship. It meets both ends of the spectrum, you are working and earning money whilst still learning and gaining a qualification. This Apprenticeship is opening the doors to my future, and the knowledge I’m gaining is helping me to develop in my career path.”
And finally, Mark adds “It’s early stages at the moment, but the benefit to Bridge is that we have someone starting out on a potential career, not simply just ‘doing a job’, and someone who we hope will be a valuable member of the team for many years to come.
In addition, I personally look forward to the day when Lauren takes the knowledge and training she’s been given and then questions “established processes”, bringing her own ideas and views to the table, taking the industry forward into the future. Currently there is a lot of “we do this because we’ve always done it”, but I know myself that just because we’ve always done it one way, it doesn’t make it the right way! Fresh thinking can never be bad for business.
And this is the crux of the matter as far as I’m concerned: Lauren, and others working through apprentice programs, are absolutely the future of our industry.”
For more information
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