'The apprenticeship has exceeded my expectations'

Anthony Armstrong, the latest of Tes' #InspiringApprentices, explains how he is now dreaming of becoming a CFO

Anthony Armstrong

This apprentice says he is learning something new about the financial services sector every day - and one day would like to see himself as CFO

My name is Anthony, I’m 18 and I’m from South Shields. I’m undertaking an apprenticeship as a junior dealer, which is a job I truthfully didn’t know existed. It’s a level 6 apprenticeship (so it’s classified as a degree-level apprenticeship). I’m employed by Newcastle Building Society and I’m just over five months into my apprenticeship. The apprenticeship programme lasts two years overall and my probation period ends after six months, so I’ve got my fingers crossed!

I initially found out about apprenticeships at school in Year 10 when I was looking for options after my GCSEs. I didn’t really know much about them at the time so I wanted to go to university, which I knew more about. Another factor to this was that my teachers only really mentioned university when talking about my future and results. When I was in sixth form, however, I realised that the courses I wanted to do at university all had very high requirements and that it was somewhat unrealistic.

After going to several open days, I also found that I didn’t like lectures as they weren’t as personal as school lessons were. I was further attracted to apprenticeships after doing work experience with some apprentices, and through knowing university graduates who struggled to get jobs even with a degree.

More on this: 'I struggled throughout my time at university'

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Other news: Minister backs #InspiringApprentices campaign

Apprenticeships: A real taste of work

Careers advice in school did include information on apprenticeships, but it was certainly geared more towards higher education for students in the higher [attainment] band. Only when I specifically asked for apprenticeship advice was it given with any real enthusiasm.

I expected the apprenticeship to be a real taste of a working environment and medium via which I could achieve good qualifications and work experience as well as get a salary.

I would say that the apprenticeship has exceeded my expectations. I’ve been able to get into work as soon as my practice was complete. I’ve been involved in various aspects of the business and have been working towards my professional qualifications in the process. It has really helped me build a better understanding of a working environment and lifestyle.

Dealing with investments

My day-to day-work includes recording cash flows, monitoring money markets and negotiating transactions between ourselves and counterparties. Once I achieve my mandate, I will be able to deal with investments of larger scale and broaden my understanding of various other sectors of the financial markets.

I greatly enjoy the work I do, as it’s a very interesting field to work in. There’s always something going on, which is having a noticeable effect in some way.

I receive lots of support from my line manager and colleagues alike, as well as the respect of others in my company, regardless of the level at which they work.

My favourite part of the job is observing and learning about economies and markets. There’s something new happening every day and the knowledge is definitely applicable to real life. Whether it is savings, mortgages or just general budgeting, my knowledge and skills have improved greatly.

Spending money

My friends at university say that they have more free time than I do but that is only fair since I get a wage, while they also need to have part-time jobs to help them afford everything. The most noticeable difference is definitely our spending. My uni friends always try to save as much money as they can while I spend money much more freely on things such as expensive food.

My family were very supportive, they initially encouraged me towards university but were very accepting when I chose the apprenticeship route. When I got my role they were overjoyed.

My prospects after the apprenticeship are full-time employment on the condition that I succeed with my professional qualifications. After that, I have the chance to seek promotion due to the experience I have built up through my apprenticeship.

In 10 years' time, I’d like to see myself as group treasurer or maybe even the chief financial officer of the society – although that will mean that I’ll certainly have to put in a lot of time an effort.

I would recommend apprenticeships to young people as it really gets you out into the world of work, something unfamiliar to most school students. It’s also an excellent chance to develop the skills school cannot teach you while earning your keep and developing your career.

Anthony Armstrong is a level 6 junior dealer apprentice with Newcastle Building Society. He tells his story as part of the Tes' #InspiringApprentices campaign



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