In true Verve fashion, hello, hey, hi! I love the buzz around National Apprenticeship Week and anyone that knows me, knows my passion for opportunities for apprentices and traineeships. I’d like to share my why.

In times gone by, apprenticeships were seen as ‘second choice’. For those who couldn’t attend University, rather than chose not to attend. Not for those with aspirations of being in a boardroom, unless you were the decorator.

Both are clichés that sadly to this day still somewhat exist, particularly in the traditional business-oriented sectors like finance, where often even junior roles require a degree.

It’s my own experience that gives me the belief that apprenticeships are not only a valid alternative to university, but for many paths can actually put you ahead in your career compared to following traditional tertiary education; both financially and knowledge-wise.

When leaving school in 2012, I knew that continued life in the classroom didn’t appeal to me. I had spent my life to date working towards GCSEs that were sold to me as ‘make or break if you want to enter the world of work’.

A career path is a mountain, and I was ready to start climbing.

Careers advice and routes to employment wasn’t what it is today even ten short years ago, so it was my own research that brought me to apprenticeships. A discovery which, in no uncertain terms, would shape my life to this day.

An apprenticeship is an opportunity for greater control of your career from earlier in your life. The caveat being someone else needs to give you that control. A mentor.

I was fortunate that a local employer looked at me, 16 with no prior knowledge, no contacts, and no experience, not just as unqualified, but as a blank canvas with new ideas, no bad habits and no outdated knowledge from a prolonged education. I really was ready to enter the world of work.

Much like school, with an apprentice it’s easy to get caught up in the qualification, but I implore you to look past it. My apprenticeship in digital media introduced me to social marketing for a small business but being a part of a microbusiness brought me skills in client management, working in a team and beginning to understand the inner workings of a company itself.

Within five years, I had followed a path of natural progression – designing online marketing material internally turned into crafting websites for clients, which evolved into building software and managing my own projects end-to-end. I became a director of the business that offered me my first ever job and played a part in managing its continued growth. With no degree, with no education debt, with an employer that took a chance on me and in turn my motivation was to learn, improve and repay that.

The experience I gained took me into a Head of Development role at an award-winning agency, building technology that helped to cement their position as a leader in performance advertising. I spent three years drawing on my experience as an apprentice and beyond to build a team and unique technology from the ground up within an existing business. As a team, we succeeded.

In September of last year, I joined The Verve Group, a group of over 70 amazing people (and counting) across multiple financial and technical disciplines, as Chief Technology Officer. On a personal level, one of the greatest achievements in my life.

If career progression were a mountain, the CTO role of a company with the ambition of The Verve Group is, to me, the summit. My apprenticeship taught me how to climb.