OBSERVING National Apprenticeship Week, five former and current members of the Cirencester-based Apprenticeship Programme at St James’s Place have shared their journeys.

National Apprenticeship Week celebrates the positive impact of apprenticeships on individuals and local employers, in order to mark this occasion current and former members of the programme have revealed the positives of undertaking apprenticeships.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Gemma Chatfield, 25, from Cirencester joined the first apprenticeship intake at St James's Place in 2012 and is now a digital marketing specialist with a team of three.

Gemma said: "An apprenticeship wasn’t my original choice; I was looking at going to university and obtained the grades to do so.

"However, I initially started having reservations because of the increase in tuition fees, which would have left me with over £40,000 worth of university costs.

"It was then when I was made aware of the apprenticeships available at St James’s Place by my college.

"I deferred university for one year and went down the apprenticeship route.

"After 6 months in the role I turned down my university offer and haven’t regretted my decision since.

“I felt that I matured really quickly, working in a corporate environment enabled me to meet new people, hear their stories and build on my own confidence and skills.

"I’ve been able to complete a number of qualifications, and build my personal skills and experiences, with the added benefit of earning at the same time.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Georgia Hamilton, 20, from Cirencester, started as an apprentice in September 2018 and is now in the investment communications team at St James’s Place.

Georgia said: “I really struggled with the decision of going to university or straight into the working environment, so when I saw this apprenticeship come up, it seemed the perfect opportunity for me.

"My apprenticeship has allowed me to develop skills I wouldn’t have been able to do elsewhere and try new things, which has overall increased my confidence as a person.

"I don’t know where my future leads, but for now, my main goal for the future is to complete my professional qualifications.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Oliver Wootley, 18, from Cirencester, is a current apprentice working within the investment division at St James’s Place.

Oliver said: “The Apprenticeship Programme really stood out to me as it offered qualifications while being inside the business and earning money.

"I have always found learning from the inside and being thrown into the deep end is how I learn best.

"An apprenticeship also gives an opportunity to establish the beginning of your career with great prospects of progressing within the business.

“Not only have I enjoyed the chance to build relationships with everyone in my team and the investment division, but also with new people in different areas of the business.

"One of the main highlights from my time at St James’s Place so far has been the opportunity to go and meet one of our fund managers in London.

"This was a great opportunity to see into what we do in the investment division.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Matt Cross, 25, from Cirencester, started as an apprentice in 2012 and is now senior adviser at Oakway Wealth Management, a partner practice of St James's Place.

Matt said: “Not going to university and starting work straight from college gave me the benefit of time.

"I was able to start at the bottom and build crucial knowledge about the industry and company I work in, from basic administration all the way up to the complex side of business financing.

“During my first year as an apprentice, I had a fantastic opportunity ahead of me but I knew there was no job guaranteed at the end of it so I had to make full use of my time and put everything into my job.

"By approaching my apprenticeship as though it would end after a year, it allowed me to get everything I could out of it.

"I still think of this lesson every day, not only in my career but also in my personal life.

“Now, as my business grows, I would like to expand our financial education proposition so I can inspire future generations to be more thoughtful with their finances.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Ben Murray, 22, from Cheltenham, is now completing a degree apprenticeship in management at University of Exeter with a role in corporate social responsibility at St James’s Place.

Ben said: “Originally, I didn’t choose the apprenticeship route but switched after realising that learning through working was the right route for me.

"Leaving university and then discovering St James’s Place was the best thing that happened to me.

"After 2.5 years in the business, I have achieved far much more than I would have still being at university.

"I would recommend that people follow their interests and passions.

"Employers look for passionate people, so do something that you love."

St James’s Place, Cirencester has placed a total of 122 apprentices into various departments - including accountancy, project management, technology, human resources and business operations - since its apprenticeship programme started in 2012.

To read more visit sjp.co.uk