As a valued member of a team handling European operations for leading removals firm Pickfords, Emma Bowen is unequivocal about the value of having an apprenticeship.

“It has been instrumental in helping me to get to where I am now,” she said.

Indeed, at the age of 16, through no fault of her own, Emma had faced a challenging future. She had been diagnosed at 15 with severe epilepsy which led to long hospital stays and forced her to miss six months of her last year in school. The disruption meant she ended up leaving school with no qualifications.

“It was horrible,” recalled Emma, “It was my teenage years and I missed lot of time in school because I was so sick every day.”

While all her friends were looking for jobs, Emma knew she had to catch up on some of the education she’d missed, enrolling at London’s Enfield College to take her Business Admin Level 1, and later her Level 2.

However, in November 2011, Pickfords saw Emma’s potential and offered her an apprenticeship while she worked on getting her Business Admin NVQ Level 3, getting experience across a number of departments in the company to cover the units she needed.

Since then, Pickfords has created further opportunities to upskill its staff and last summer, through our ongoing partnership, the company offered Emma the chance to take a Level 2 Diploma in Team Leading. Our skills development programme aims to help apprentices gain skills in self-management, coaching and mentoring, relationship building, communication and decision making, negotiation and project management.

Now nine months into the 18-month course, Emma is thriving at Pickfords as a European Move Manager, based at its facility in Wembley, North London. She is currently one of four people in the company’s busy European Removals team, handling domestic house removals in and out of Europe. Her responsibilities involve taking customer enquiries, booking surveys and providing quotations, right through to making access checks, booking the removals team and ensuring the whole process from start to finish runs smoothly.

I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone,” said Emma, “It’s given me the chance to get experience in the workplace and a foot in the door at a great company.

Emma added: “What I like most about Pickfords is that we work so well together as a team and you feel that support is always there. The Pickfords name is instantly recognisable because it has such a long history and a good reputation and it’s nice to be part of that.”

“I really enjoy my job, especially because it’s so satisfying to oversee everything from beginning to end,” she said, “You get to build up a good relationship with customers.”

Emma also appreciates being able to rely on the support offered by her PeoplePlus trainer. “I’ve got some exams today, so he’s been in to help me prepare. It’s great knowing that I can always contact him if I need any help,” she said.

Emma’s tutor/assessor, PeoplePlus regional team leader Yihya Sirhan, said: “From the start, Emma was extremely committed and motivated. The Team Leading programme was tailored to equip Emma with the competence and confidence to make her next career move at Pickfords.

“I have no doubt she’ll do well. She has always demonstrated a willingness to complete the work and manages her working diary to ensure quality time is spent with me to ensure progress is achieved. It has always been a pleasure to support Emma achieves the required contents of the Team Leading programme.”

Once she has secured her Team Leading qualifications, Emma has set her sights high.

“The extra training I’m getting means I have the chance to grow within my division,” she said, before adding: “One day, I might even be managing a whole department.”

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