According to a UK government report from 2021, over 70% of apprentices aged 25 and over reported that their apprenticeship had helped them to progress in their career. Additionally, almost two-thirds of employers who offer apprenticeships reported that apprenticeships had led to higher staff retention rates and improved productivity.
In terms of success stories across CSA Apprenticeships, they do not get much better than the work we’ve done with AXA insurance and our Level 4 Counter Fraud Investigator Apprenticeship (CFIA). This curriculum is further evidence of the true benefits of high-quality apprenticeship training, and the real sense of achievement for the apprentices completing the course.
Axel Manwaring and I recently sat down to discuss some of the learners he has worked with. Axel is one of our leading tutors for our CFIA having worked as an Investigating Officer in the Fraud Investigation Service. He also has a background in leading investigations from referral to criminal court proceedings and has worked with numerous public bodies including the Cabinet Office and HMRC to develop the Level 4 Counter Fraud Investigator Apprenticeship.
An apprenticeship also brings out confidence through its inclusion in the delivery of the programme by making sure that everyone takes part
Axel started off by giving me an example of one of his exemplary students, who has just recently gained a promotion…
“If we’re ok naming names, I thought I would share the latest success I’ve had with one of my students. Her name is Amy Moorcroft and Amy is from the first group at AXA I worked with on the CFIA. She has just recently been promoted to Senior Fraud Investigator and in her e-mail stated that she “couldn’t have done this without the CSA course.” I thought this was an interesting piece of positive feedback, obviously I was delighted for her, and all her hard work has paid off, but I wanted to highlight her point about not being able to do it without completing the apprenticeship itself.”
So why do you think she said this?
“In terms of Amy’s success, her work ethic and moral compass always stood out to me. For example, she would send me a piece of work and would be worried because she couldn’t stick to the word count (because she’d written too much). However, she had the foresight to inform me, give me the reason why, and check that this was acceptable. Some people might think this is poor word management however to me it showed an apprentice very much engaged in the course content rather than trying to meet the very minimum standard required. This is where her “doing an apprenticeship” meant she could discuss her work with me as her tutor, and it didn’t matter how many words she used, what mattered was the quality of the content – which was always very good. Had she not done an apprenticeship, she wouldn’t be embedding the work she was learning on a day-to-day basis to write well worded, quality essays which also brings her day-to-day work front of mind.”
“It’s also important to note that Amy isn’t the only one excelling out of the group we are working with. Out of the 8 students currently on the AXA insurance cohort with the Credit Services Association, there have been 3 promotions, 1 temporary promotion (which is highly likely to become permanent) and finally, 2 more have had interviews for a promotion recently.”
“Very recently, one of the students who has had an interview for promotion and had unfortunately been unsuccessful, asked if I would help prepare for another promotion interview. This was late in the week, and the following week she had the interview and then the first part of her end point assessment for the apprenticeship. We found time and went through all the preparations – I really did not have much to add – she had everything lined up. With in two days of the interview she was promoted. Doing this course, meant she had the opportunity to take on feedback, and prepare constructively for further opportunities which lead to this promotion.”
And why do you think an apprenticeship helps towards promotions?
“One word – confidence – apprenticeships build confidence. At every meeting and quarterly review with line managers I ask them how they think their apprentices are doing and how the apprenticeship course meets the business needs for the organisation. Every manager tells me that they [apprentices]are a lot more confident, speak up in meetings, and are much more willing to volunteer information – something they never would have done prior to starting the course.
“This isn’t surprising because part of the curriculum is to always encourage students to shadow and talk to other departments – it gives them a great impression of what other areas of the business do and helps to build up their network of contacts. It also helps them to communicate better, and to see how other teams work. An apprenticeship also brings out confidence through its inclusion in the delivery of the programme by making sure that everyone takes part. In meetings I ask direct questions like – “What do you do for your job?”, “What is your current role?”, and “How does what I am teaching fit in with that?”
“We then have coaching sessions which really helps to develop their communication skills including their soft skills – it’s all these other little pieces that add to your ongoing learning which make learners develop and excel.”
“Having an engaged line manager is also a must for apprentices. With the AXA cohort, they also have a senior lead, which is Tom Wilson. Tom is really focused on developing the counter fraud element of AXA and he has a passion and drive for it. With CFIA – one of the more difficult courses – his students that were signed up (through Tom) wanted to be and asked to be on the course – they already had shown the same amount of engagement and drive as Tom.”
“An engaged manager is so important because initially, when considering an apprenticeship, people / managers don’t necessarily see the benefits straight away. A lot of them are put off by what they see as something very time consuming and admin heavy, however, during induction, we help them to understand that this initial investment of time and effort very much pays off in the long term. In a previous CSA blog we quoted Tom saying “short term pain for long term gain” because this very much resonates with the apprenticeship journey. Being armed with this knowledge from the outset will set any manager up for a good apprenticeship journey with his or her staff. For example, in times when you have to shift your roles to help another team in a different department, I’ve seen examples were two apprentices stepped up to take on this task and it was reported that they “smashed it”, doing 10 times the volume of work, mainly because they had more experience and confidence. Not only that, but when they come back to their team to do their normal day-to-day work, they were able to feedback everything they had learned, so everyone gained from it.”
So, what sort of attitudes and behaviours do you think an apprentice needs to succeed and further their career progression?
“I keep going back to Amy, but she is such a good example. Amy is a good student, not the top of the class but extremely conscientious – what set her apart was that she had set herself definitive goals of where she wanted to be from the outset. Which meant she aimed to get the recognition she deserved, and she pushed for it.”
“We sometimes see when students start an apprenticeship, they get challenged early on because it is perceived by others in their team that they are not doing their day-to-day work as a result. Amy tackled this head on by completing her apprentice work and coursework, and then delivering a presentation back to her team to illustrate to them what she was doing and how they could all gain from her learnings. She shared her progress throughout her journey, and showed how her doing this very apprenticeship was beneficial to them too as a collective.”
“To conclude, a CSA CIFA apprenticeship is a great way to gain hands-on experience and develop practical skills in the insurance industry and further afield in financial services as a whole. As we have shown in this article, apprenticeships a number of offer opportunities for career progression, including promotions within an organisation. For more information on CSA Apprenticeships, visit our dedicated section on the CSA Learning website – www.csa-uk.com/ld-apprenticeships-about.”
By Colleen Peel, Head of Marketing from Credit Services Association (CSA), and Axel Manwaring, Senior Tutor, CSA.