Ben Milligan started his career as an Ocean Exports Apprentice with DHL Global Forwarding in Leeds. He now has a permanent role as an Air and Ocean Export Agent and plans to develop his career further within the company.

Ben Milligan, who turns 21 in August, gained good A level grades at Mirfield Free Grammar School, West Yorkshire. But, unlike most of his friends, he was determined to find an apprenticeship rather than go to university.

Ben explained: “I had enjoyed doing A levels but that was enough for me. I didn’t want to sit in lectures, I wanted to take the next step and use the experience of an apprenticeship to gain skills.

“I didn’t see a reason to go to university unless I wanted a career that required a degree.”

While many of Ben’s friends are graduating this summer and seeking career opportunities, he gained a distinction in his ocean freight exports apprenticeship with DHL Global Forwarding (UK) Ltd earlier this year, and now has a permanent position with the company.

Ben said: “When I was looking for an apprenticeship, I saw the opportunity with DHL, which is a massive company. I really put the time and effort into my apprenticeship and it has paid off. Through working with my colleagues, they’ve taught me what they know best and made me into how I am today.

“I was pleasantly surprised by my apprenticeship starting salary and I was given a pay rise after three months’ probation. Now my post is permanent, I’ve had another increase.

“My new role gives me the opportunity to also learn about air freight. The company want me to be flexible and I’m looking forward to it because the freight movement is a lot quicker and it’s going to be fast paced.

“I’d like to progress to management. My plan of action is to get my head down and continue to grow and develop within the company, which has plans to grow the Leeds branch.

“Personally, I believe I’ve made the right choice. I am happy for my friends getting their degrees, it’s a great achievement. But they now have to find jobs and start their careers – plus get used to the requirements and routines of working Monday to Friday.

“I would say to school leavers, don’t just focus your research on universities and where in the country you want to go, but give as much attention to apprenticeships. Employers benefit from having an apprentice too, so it’s worth contacting companies to see your options.

“It’s important to keep your options open and look at what career you’d like to go into and whether it requires a degree. Not everyone will get the results they want, and an apprenticeship is a great option to start your career.”

Find out more about apprenticeships here.