Did you know that apprenticeships are available at United Response? They range from roles in local and central office-based jobs in areas like finance and administration, through to our newly launched Apprentice Support Worker positions, advertised through the YMCA. 

We spoke to current apprentice Amy and her manager Jane about the benefits of an apprenticeship.

“This apprenticeship at United Response is my first paid job,” explains Amy Sellwood, who has been a full-time Business Administration Apprentice with United Response for over a year. “All I needed were 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, so thankfully it didn’t matter that I started off as an extremely nervous and shy 17-year-old with very little work experience.”

18-year-old Amy is currently completing her NVQ Level 3 in Business and Administration at Cornwall College, and is based at United Response’s Truro office in Cornwall. Having completed her NVQ Level 2 with us, she is due to finish her Level 3 at the end of this year.

Ever since day one, Amy’s line manager Jane has been impressed with her eagerness to learn. “Amy is outstanding in her enthusiasm towards new tasks – even filing!” she says. “When she joined us she was heard to exclaim on several occasions how much she loved filing. I think her love for that particular task has waned a little now, but she remains exceptionally willing and helpful.”

Win-win all round

This is the first time United Response’s Truro office has employed an apprentice and Jane describes the decision as “win-win all round”.

She expands: “It has been great to see a young person, straight from school, become competent and confident in a business environment, and being responsible for making sure Amy is taught best practice in everything has made us all reassess how we do things more efficiently, too.”

And as for Amy? “I’ve learnt huge amounts in the past year!” she enthuses. “Everything from running a busy reception, ordering stationery and taking minutes to writing reports, preparing HR documents and taking on projects. It is now my responsibility to regularly audit whether all support staff in Truro have up-to-date DBS [Disclosure & Barring Service] checks and training, which is fairly new to me and I’m really enjoying the challenge.

“I think one of the most important things I have learnt is to have confidence in myself and also to manage my time effectively,” she continues. “Before this apprenticeship, I didn’t really have much self-confidence and would always put myself down, but this job has shown me that actually I can do it.”

She is now a top-notch organiser at work and beyond: “I always make sure I am on top of my college coursework and schedule social events around my work life.”

Setting Amy up for her future career

“One of the best bits of my job is meeting the people we support when they come into the office,” Amy says. “I love seeing their happy faces and it’s such a great feeling knowing that every single one of us has had a positive impact on their lives.

“My team are also really helpful and easy to get along with,” she adds. “I know that if I have a problem I can speak to Jane as she’s there to help me get the very best out of my apprenticeship.”

Jane nods: “We’re all 100% committed to giving Amy the skills and training to set her up for her future career.”

In fact, at the end of Amy’s Level 2, Jane and the rest of the management team arranged for her apprenticeship to be extended because they were so impressed with how well she was performing.

“That was my proudest moment and a complete surprise,” says Amy. “It was overwhelming to think that everyone had come together to get me to stay another year! It felt so good knowing that all my hard work had been appreciated and that I fitted so well into the team.”

Amy is keen to pursue a career in administration and is hoping to secure a job as an Administrative Assistant following her apprenticeship. “I’m working towards becoming an Office Manager or managing an Admin team,” she says. “Being able to choose my own units as an apprentice has given me a good chance of achieving this.

“I would love to be stay on at United Response as it’s a fab organisation and I couldn’t wish for better colleagues,” she concludes. “But whatever my future holds, I owe a lot to this opportunity and I’ll take a huge amount from it. I’m no longer the timid person I used to be.”

Amy and Jane were talking to Laura Cook, web and digital communications assistant.


Find out more about our apprenticeships with the YMCA