Former apprentice Matthew Wallbank has been promoted twice and is currently leading on a £14M contract in his procurement role at Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council. Now 21, Matthew, from Hinckley, went straight into employment after completing his A Levels and has never looked back.
His employers are so pleased with his enthusiasm, commitment and maturity that they have given him the chance to work on large-scale high-value projects, enabling him to build his CV and gain valuable work experience.
Matthew took the decision not to go to university, partly because of the high costs, and partly because he wasn’t sure at the age of 18 what career path to follow. He said, “I decided to look for a general apprenticeship that would give me a taste of the world of business and open my eyes to the opportunities that were available.
“North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College had been tasked with developing a shortlist of candidates for a role with the Council’s procurement team. I had to take some tests designed to assess my maths and English skills. I was selected for the interview, which went very well, and I was offered the job and started work immediately.
“It was really helpful having the help and support of a training assessor from the College. It can be quite daunting to join a large business where you are younger than your colleagues and, without much experience, you don’t know what to expect. I had a great induction organised by the head of procurement, who wanted me to start by getting immersed in the ordering and invoicing process to help me settle into the team and begin to learn the procedures.
“After three months, I moved on to the procurement side, assisting colleagues with projects, getting to know my internal customers in other council departments and developing a network of useful contacts.
“Once I had completed my Level 2 Business Administration apprenticeship, I was promoted to procurement trainee, and then to procurement officer. From the start, I was leading on projects such as commissioning a window cleaning contract to deliver services for the Council’s housing stock and corporate properties. I also helped to identify a taxi-marshalling service provider for Nuneaton town centre and led on the contract to refurbish a local skate park.
“Now, I am working on a number of large-scale projects including a £14M ten-year contract for the grounds maintenance of the Borough’s parks and public open spaces. I am also involved with a four-year insurance contract and a large tender for the supply and maintenance of the Council’s printers and photocopiers.
“I am really enjoying working in procurement and the apprenticeship was an ideal introduction. I love the challenge of trying to save money for the public while also continuing to maintain services at a high standard. I think the job role suited me because I am very organised, I believe I’m good at multi-tasking and I see myself as a perfectionist who enjoys getting things right.”
Steve Ryder, former head of procurement for Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council is a passionate advocate for apprenticeships having started his own 30-year career with Rolls-Royce plc as an apprentice. As a former student of the College whose children also attended the Nuneaton campus, Steve decided to get in touch with the business development team to discuss the apprentice role.
“It was really helpful that the College filtered out the best candidates for us and put together an interview shortlist. Matthew stood out immediately and there was no doubt in our minds that he would quickly develop the skills we needed. He has exceeded our expectations, made fantastic progress, and has become a highly-valued member of our team.”
Steve’s own career testifies to the possibilities that an apprenticeship offers. Steve worked his way up from stock records clerk in procurement to operations director of Sourcerer, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc that became a centre of excellence for procurement, bringing Kaizen principles to the purchase of consumables. Steve and the team at the Council have developed innovative procurement systems and practices, introducing e-billing, e-procurement and a central tendering system.
Steve said, “We needed a team member with an interest in legal issues, who was capable of working in a structured and organised manner, and who wouldn’t buckle under pressure. We were also looking for a good communicator who could build relationships, understand problems and help to find solutions.”
Matthew continues to study having successfully completed his apprenticeship and the Level 4 CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) diploma. He is now working towards the Level 5 CIPS qualification through self-study and intends to progress on to Level 6. He believes that his qualifications and experience will be highly useful and beneficial as he progresses in his career.
Matthew said, “I really enjoy working for Nuneaton & Bedworth Council and I am keen to gain a supervisory or managerial role. I would advise anyone thinking about their next steps to consider an apprenticeship. If you look at your long-term future, you’re likely to get the best start by earning while you learn and are more likely to reap the rewards of promotion after just a few years at work.”
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