If you’re looking for some inspiration today, look no further than Sally Lane. After years in a role, knowing only the basics about managing data and Microsoft Excel, Sally chose to extend her knowledge through an apprenticeship programme with Lloyds Banking Group. Little did she know the hard work, dedication, and emotional rollercoaster that she was to embark on would change her life.
Growth, resilience, and determination are just a few words that are personified in the form of Sally and her character. She represents exactly the reasons why Kaplan works alongside Lloyds Banking Group to support apprenticeships and career changers.
Sally agreed to speak to us about her experience, sharing some useful tips and guidance as a career changer herself.
Right place, right time
Sally has worked for Lloyds Banking Group for around 24 years. But after her children finished studying and started their own careers, she knew she wanted more out of her day job.
Although she was using her capabilities the best she could, there was a skills gap that needed to be filled which would allow Sally to grow and add more value within her role. That was when she was introduced by Lloyds Banking Group to the Level 3 Data and Insights apprenticeship.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Not only was Sally open to the idea of upskilling, but she was also taking on new, more advanced, responsibilities while a colleague was on maternity leave.
Back to basics
Although Sally’s story is a successful one, it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. She had worked in the industry for over twenty years but had to return right back to the start of her education and resit her maths and English exams:
“I took the CSCs in 1986 or 1987. So, although I had the qualifications, they didn't convert to the current day GCSE qualification, which means I didn’t hit the minimum criteria for an apprenticeship.”
Retaking these qualifications added more pressure alongside taking on more advanced responsibilities at work, attending classes and studying in her own time. This meant that the start of the journey was incredibly challenging.
However, despite her fears, Sally discovered that the reality was very different to what she expected. After initially thinking that she would be on an apprenticeship and functional skills course filled with those who had just left full-time education, the number of learners who were over the age of 30 was surprising.
She explained to us the type of people that her peers were: “There were a lot of people my age or similar. You could also tell that a lot of them had good, highly skilled, or high-paying, jobs. It’s not that they were there because they weren't capable, it’s because times have changed.”
Hard work pays off
After a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, Sally awaited that final call regarding her end-point assessment. At that time, she believed that there were some exam questions that she could have answered better, so she’d be proud if she scraped by with a passing grade.
Nevertheless, she discovered that she was awarded a Distinction (the highest grade you can get) and was extremely proud of herself. But it’s not only the grade that mattered, Sally also found that she could apply everything that she had learnt to her job role.
“I was able to use my new knowledge in a big work project. I could apply the formula training and work out the difference in pounds, pence, and percentages using a big IF formula in Excel.
I wouldn’t have been able to do that in the past. I would just look at the formula, see a bunch of numbers and think, “What is that?” The difference now is that I can even look at someone else’s formula and understand it, replicate it, or even tweak it.”
Despite getting such a great result, she appreciates the hard work that it took to get to where she is today:
“If you don’t put in 110%, you won’t have the same experience as me. Yes, it’s been hard and it was challenging throughout, but you also need to speak up and ask for help.”
And while there were times that Sally felt that she was the only person struggling, she found that having a strong support network across Lloyds Banking Group and Kaplan, including apprenticeship mentors and peers in similar positions, was instrumental. Sally was never afraid to use these support networks, ask questions and seek advice where needed, which ultimately helped her to succeed and understand how to effectively apply her learning to her work.
A new woman
Although Sally started her apprenticeship to gain new skills and knowledge, she found that it helped her to grow personally as well as professionally.
She shared some stories with us about a few of the times she noticed her growth.
“I was once on a work call and someone was presenting a process but wasn’t explaining it correctly. They were more senior than me, so weren’t as close to the processes as I was. I felt that I had more technical knowledge, so I asked if I could take over and explain it a bit better, and this led to me taking over the presentation.
That would have never, ever happened before the apprenticeship.”
She continued to share her hopes for the future, “I’m hoping to stay in root cause analysis but I’m open to anything, as the business is far greater than my little area. I want to step up to those higher grades, and I know I can do it.
In the past, I would offer to help out, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to take accountability for the higher responsibilities as I didn’t think I was ready. But now, I am ready. I’m doing the work and I want to do that work.”
Life changing apprenticeships
Sally is a great example of someone who has taken advantage of all of the support, training and new knowledge taught for her apprenticeship, but we can’t take the full credit. Sally worked extremely hard and didn’t give up when times got tough, and now she’s a whole new person.
If you want to change your career, grow your confidence, and become a new person, all while upskilling, an apprenticeship is the place to start.
Browse through our apprenticeship programmes today.
Looking to upskill your workplace? Employers, if you are hoping to enrol new apprentices, get in touch with the team for more information.
Need to find an apprenticeship programme? Browse our vacancies page with the most recent apprenticeships available, or read more about how you can convince your employer to fund your training.