Spotlight on Apprenticeships NI

Business in the Community’s ApprenticeshipsNI programme offers the opportunity to upskill your current and future workforce. Here, Aisling Faulkner, Business in the Community’s Employability Executive based in the North West, talks to Demi Bradley, one of the programme’s participants about her experience.

Demi is 22 years old and works full-time for Convergys in Derry/L’Derry.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your background.
I’ve moved a lot over the years; Coleraine, Portrush, and all over Derry, That’s the reason I didn’t get my GCSE’s. I was uprooted and moved somewhere else, and that’s the way it was in the care system. I missed quite a bit of school but I knew I was smart enough to pass the exams, I always did OK at school even though I missed a lot. When I didn’t get to do my exams, it was the worst time of my life. It really hit me on the day my friends got their results, especially, because I knew I would have passed them. It was so frustrating because it was down to circumstances in my life and not my ability. I’ve just recently moved in with my partner. We’d been living with his parents for a little while, but now we’ve got our own place, so I feel settled.

What was your work experience before Convergys?

Not having my GCSE’s held me back for a while. I kind of bounced around a bit, different courses at the Tech and Derry Youth. I did hairdressing for a while as it seemed like my only option, but I didn’t do it because I wanted to. That’s when I asked my social worker to help me get work experience as I noticed that jobs always asked about previous experience. I had the opportunity of working for McLaughlin & Harvey Construction at its site office. I really wanted to work in administration, and I was there for six months. I loved having a routine, set times to start and finish work, and it gave me a real purpose. I knew that’s what I wanted to be doing – working full-time and earning a wage. The work experience I gained with McLaughlin & Harvey was very valuable. During my time there, I decided to apply for role with Convergys.

Tell me about your current role?

Lucky enough, I got the position and I’ve been here for almost two years. I started as a Customer Service Agent on the phones and I’ve progressed to a coaching role. I’m still an agent and spend a couple of weeks a month on the phone, but I’ve got more responsibility now. I’ve been looking after two teams for the past three months. The coaching team helps team leaders with agents who are on Performance Plans, getting them to where they need to be. We ‘floor walk’ and play a big part in staff training. It’s a big difference from an agent role and I really enjoy it. The Apprentice training has really helped me with this role, and it’s helped my confidence outside of work too. I’m going to apply for a training role internally and my current experience gives me something solid to include in the education section. It’s brilliant, it makes you feel a lot better about yourself.

If someone asked me about GCSE’s or qualifications, I didn’t want to talk about it. A lot of my friends have been moving to go to university. I felt the conversation was always one-sided as I didn’t have anything to talk about. Now it wouldn’t bother me talking about it because I know I’m going to get these qualifications through ApprenticeshipsNI.

What do you like most about your current role?

I’ve really been enjoying taking on more leadership in the coaching role. I like having responsibility for myself and others. I love working in Convergys. I think work is what you make of it, and I like talking to customers. Every call is different.

The ApprenticeshipsNI programme has really helped me. Being out of education for so long and getting back into it has been great. The tutors are lovely, and having the support of my employer to complete the training is brilliant. It has helped most in my own confidence, and I know I’m going to finish the qualification and hopefully move on to the next level. It will 100% help me in my role and also in my career.

Would you recommend ApprenticeshipsNI to a friend?

I’ve already recommended ApprenticeshipsNI to so many people in Convergys. I think it’s a brilliant programme, and I’m really grateful to be given the opportunity to gain these qualifications and work at the same time.

Convergys Derry has 50 employees engaged in the programme, and with deadlines for training fast-approaching in line with the new Apprenticeship Levy, if you or your staff want to get involved, please contact Aisling Faulkner before 24 March 2017 E: or call (028) 7186 1550.