This Apprenticeship Week Wales, Elinor Worthington, Future Talent Development Consultant at Legal & General, discusses how the business is using its apprenticeship programme to develop and shape its future leaders as they look to diversify and futureproof their workforce.
As a former apprentice turned leader at one of the leading UK financial services providers, Elinor champions the value of apprenticeships for anyone wanting to gain experience, upskill or change career to achieve their aspirations.
Elinor said: “I graduated from university with an Environmental Science degree and accepted an entry level role in financial services at Legal & General to begin earning a wage. I would never have thought back then I’d still be at the company 20 years on. That’s down in large part to the company’s commitment to training, which has seen me complete two apprenticeships that have allowed me to progress into the position I am in today.
“When I was at school, there was a perception that ‘apprenticeships were for boys’ and only available in the trades. I was never encouraged to follow a vocational route as university was the expected next step. But apprenticeships have evolved in recent years and it’s time for these attitudes to change with them. There are so many different and exciting career routes available through an apprenticeship for young people starting out or those thinking of changing career. Not just in the financial industry, but across other sectors too.”
Discussing the breadth of apprenticeship opportunities available at Legal & General, Elinor believes this pathway offers many unique benefits for those looking to kickstart their career or try something new.
“At Legal & General alone, we offer between 25 to 30 different apprenticeship pathways, in business areas spanning design and IT, engineering, accounting, data analysis, project management, financial crime, software testers and more. The list goes on.
“Our apprentices get good pay, nationally recognised qualifications, and an all-round view of the organisation as they try their hand at different business areas. It’s good for people who don’t quite know what their next steps will be, especially at the beginning of their careers, as we can tailor their training to their interests.
“Apprenticeships also give people confidence. We often see huge personal development throughout someone’s apprenticeship journey, and they really grow as people. Being taught in a working environment helps develop interpersonal and softer skills that many don’t even realise they have. Building networks is also a great asset and I’ve benefitted from this first-hand during my apprenticeships. Learning from and working alongside industry experts has meant I could establish a rapport with them.”
The benefits of becoming an apprentice extend beyond the programme itself, with the majority of apprentices at Legal & General starting on permanent contracts.
“Once people finish their apprenticeship they will have a financial uplift, annual bonuses, and the same opportunities to progress as anyone else. If anything, they have a deeper understanding of the business.
“We even offer degree apprenticeships so individuals can gain a degree in a highly desirable subject without having to worry about fees. Really, the world is their oyster, and we want our apprentices to succeed and progress to be our future leaders.
“This is evident when looking at our apprenticeship retention rates. The latest data shows all our former apprentices are still at the company two years on.”
Apprenticeships are suitable for people of all ages, with Elinor experiencing first-hand the benefits of becoming an apprentice later in her career.
“As a Future Talent Development Consultant, a focus of mine is upskilling and future-proofing our current workforce. The financial services landscape has changed and the skills our staff need have evolved – technology is ever changing, and we’ve seen a shift in digital capability requirements.
“Apprenticeships are a great way for people to develop their knowledge or even learn a completely new skillet so they can future-proof their career. Whatever your age, you can start an apprenticeship. If you want to change your career or upskill when you’re 40, an apprenticeship can allow you do that without having to give up a salary or your financial security.
“My own career goals have changed during my time at Legal & General and even after 20 years of being with the company, I still feel like I’m on my learning journey. It wasn’t until 2016 that I completed my Level 4 Apprenticeship in Leadership and Management, and I’ve recently completed a Level 5 Apprenticeship in Strategic Management. Having these higher qualifications under my belt has allowed me to accelerate my career, go for promotions within the business and have been integral in building my own strategic mindset – which is crucial when thinking about how we can move the business forward for the better.”
Not only does Elinor believe an apprenticeship is a great pathway to individual career success, but she explains how the business is using apprenticeships to futureproof and diversify their workforce.
“We’re proud to have a high mobility rate at Legal & General and a senior leadership team that comes from different backgrounds and pathways. Our business is proof that apprenticeships are a great foundation to a successful career. We instill agile leadership skills within our programmes, so apprentices feel ready to be able to progress and apply for higher roles. The finance sector can be seen as a scary environment full of ‘men in suits’ but it’s so much more than that. Apprentices, whatever their background, will thrive at Legal & General and pave a successful career – if they have the drive, determination and commitment to do so.
“Young people are looking for more than a pay cheque these days – they want to be employed by a company which aligns with their values. We’re proud to be on a journey to becoming a net zero company and are also hugely passionate about building a more diverse workforce. Our apprenticeship programme allows us to do both things by bringing fresh talent into the business and allowing us to upskill new and existing employees in a cost-effective manner. By the end of their programme, our apprentices have a real understanding of how they can progress and succeed in the business, which we hope will offer even more different socio-economic perspectives across the board in the not-so-distant future.”
For more information on becoming an apprentice, visit the Apprenticeships Wales Genius Decision website