With its workforce and service offering doubling in the past year, one Gateshead charity is investing in apprenticeships to help cope with increased demand, by following the success and training set by its star employee.
Katie Wilkinson has worked with Age UK Gateshead since opting out of her A Levels at 17. Three years and two apprenticeships later, the 20-year-old has shown leaders at the charity how an investment in apprentices will allow the business to fill its newly created and extremely-varied roles, with people who are the right fit.
Ian Wolstenholme, CEO of Age UK Gateshead, explains: “Thanks to the extension of our services, most notably the launch of our new dementia day care centre, our resource needs have more than doubled in the last 12 months.
“While we knew we had to recruit people into the organisation quickly, we also recognised that any new starters needed to be right for us – happy to work across the business, content to ‘muck in’, positive and dedicated. Reviewing all those attributes brought Katie to mind – our keen yet fiercely ambitious apprentice who has been a godsend and who has a bright future with us.”
Currently studying for an AAT level 3 assistant accountant apprenticeship, via award-winning, apprenticeship training provider, Access Training, Katie has recently been appointed as Finance Officer. In her new role, which includes handling the day-to-day finance for the charity – everything from petty cash management and payroll, to managing finance software and budgeting, Katie reports directly into the CEO.
Katie from Gateshead, explains: “I always loved maths at school and after spending a year doing A levels and hating them, I wanted to try something more vocational. Access Training helped secure my first level 2 business administration apprenticeship with Age UK and my subsequent level 3 social media and digital marketing apprenticeship.
“Working across many departments has been so interesting and really helped me get fully under the skin of the business. No two days have ever been the same and it is that variety that I love so much.
“Now onto apprenticeship three and I’m on course to fulfil my dream of one day becoming an accountant. It wasn’t until I started helping with the finance side of things, during my first apprenticeship, that I realised that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I feel really lucky that Age UK Gateshead is helping me realise my ambition – it is such a meaningful organisation and one that also really cares about my future development.”
“The career path Katie has taken really shows that finding someone who is the right company-fit and willing to learn, is high on the priority list for those looking to recruit,” adds Alex Meredith, Trainer at Access Training.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to train Katie on her current and past apprenticeships and like Age UK Gateshead, many North East businesses want to find new employees that ultimately share their values and beliefs, but who are happy to be upskilled on the job.”
With a current workforce of 32 people, set to increase to 35 in the coming months and up from 16 last year, Age UK Gateshead has recently appointed two new care apprentices with two more joining in the coming months. An autonomous charity, exclusively for the borough’s older population, Age UK Gateshead offers advice and support in the areas of health and wellbeing, bereavement, social activities and much more.
Malcolm Armstrong, Managing Director at Access Training, concludes: “Many employers, like Age UK Gateshead, are accessing Government funding to develop the skills of their workforce through apprenticeships. Our finance-related apprenticeships are particularly popular, and we’re already seeing a lot of interest in our AAT level 3 assistant accountant apprenticeship, which is due to start mid-September.”
As well as apprenticeships in admin, finance and digital marketing, Access Training offers programmes within management, customer service, manufacturing, warehousing and IT. The company is also the only regional provider of the fire, emergency and security systems apprenticeship.