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Careers advice: How to upskill on an apprenticeship or training programme

Have you considered training staff via a government-funded apprenticeship? Abra Dunsby speaks to some of the companies and apprentices taking advantage of training for their insights

With the government currently offering funding for apprenticeships and training programmes, now is a good time for travel agencies to ensure staff have the skills they need in preparation for travel’s resurgence.

And with furloughed team members able to take training courses while they’re off work, not only is taking a training programme or apprenticeship a productive use of their time, it can help them feel valued by their employer too.

Ponders Travel in Cambridge is one agency that’s taken advantage of the government’s apprenticeship funding, with manager Millie Windeler currently taking Train2Travel’s Team Leader Level Three scheme while on part-time furlough.

Windeler explains: “Our director Clare sent the opportunity through when people were on furlough. I didn’t think we’d be able to afford it, but when we realised that in our area we wouldn’t have to pay anything at all, I thought, ‘now is the perfect time to take advantage of this’.”

The course has helped Windeler to increase her skills. “I was promoted to manager last July and it’s my first time doing anything team leader-related. I wanted to get more skills to improve my confidence with the role,” she says.

While it’s been a busy time at Ponders since the pandemic, Windeler has been able to fit the training in comfortably alongside her agency role.

“We’ve been so busy, but I haven’t felt stretched with training, which I can easily build around what I’m doing.

“My tutor Paula has been amazing. She’s aware of everything going on in the industry and knows the times of year when we get busier and quieter and will schedule stuff accordingly.”

The course is 13 months long, but training is flexible, with Windeler dedicating around three hours a month to an allocated task.

She says the course has been “invaluable”, helping her grow her self-esteem. “It’s made me feel more confident. Everyone’s had a mental knock in the past year and, when you’re having a tough day or week, it’s nice to be able to take an hour to focus on something that’s going to help you develop your career in future.”

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