Jessica Riley, 18, from Greater Manchester is feeling much more positive about her future since completing a traineeship in business administration and securing an apprenticeship with her work placement host company.

Jessica had been unemployed for almost a year when she was signposted to Seetec’s traineeship programme, which combines pre-employment training and a vocational qualification with a period of work experience.

She had dropped out of college, where she was studying towards A-Levels, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and was unable to find a job or apprenticeship during the lockdowns that followed.

Jessica was keen to take control of her future and recognised that the traineeship would provide her with a valuable opportunity to gain skills and experience, alongside a recognised qualification, improving her job prospects in a particularly challenging labour market.

Building skills and confidence

Due to the ongoing lockdown restrictions, the first four weeks of Jessica’s traineeship were spent completing remote learning assignments with the support of her tutor and attending virtual classes along with the other trainees in her group. Towards the end of the four-week period she was asked to attend a remote observation day, an experience that Jessica found incredibly valuable. She said:

“The observation day helped me to realise just how far I’d come in a short space of time. It was a chance to put my skills into practice through role play, from demonstrating how I would make a business call to dealing with a customer complaint. It really helped to prepare me for my work placement.

“I also enjoyed spending the day with the other traineeship learners in my group – it was great to get to know them all a bit better, especially after a year feeling quite isolated at home during the pandemic.”

Gaining real-world experience

Jessica then spent 3 weeks with her work placement host company, an NHS Medical Centre in Sale, Greater Manchester. Her duties included all aspects of office administration, from taking and making calls to scanning documents and using a computer system. Although it was a busy office, she enjoyed the fast pace and the opportunity to meet so many new people.

Jessica’s host employer was so impressed with her attitude and eagerness to learn that they asked her to stay on at the medical centre as an Apprentice Customer Service Practitioner at the end of her placement. Assistant Practice Manager Louise Morgan said:

“We were delighted with the progress that Jessica made during her placement with us. She was quick to learn the ropes and adapted well to a busy office environment.

“The apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity for Jessica to develop a range of transferrable skills in customer service and business administration, and as an employer we know that our new employees are benefitting from a high-quality programme of learning and development.”

Helping young people to navigate the post-Covid jobs market

Andi McGregor, Head of Education and Skills at Seetec Outsource, explains why traineeships are such an important stepping stone for young people:

“Rising unemployment in the wake of Covid-19 means competition for jobs is fiercer than ever before. Without relevant work experience a lot of young people are struggling to get noticed by employers, and many don’t even know where to start with their job search.

“Jessica’s experience shows that traineeships really can open doors to a brighter future. They prepare young people for the workplace and give them access to jobs or apprenticeships in their chosen field, while employers benefit from a chance to recruit motivated new employees who can grow with their business.”