We are now halfway through National Apprenticeship Week! Jola Brocka joined electrical distributor Rexel as an apprentice in 2015 – and is now mentoring other apprentices within the business.
Apprenticeships have always played a key role in the electrical industry in terms of attracting and developing the next generation of talent that will serve the sector in years to come.
From those training as electricians to those working in the wider industry, such as in a distribution environment, ensuring a steady flow of ‘new blood’ is essential to keeping it dynamic and forward thinking.
Rexel realised that it needed to raise the bar in terms of its apprenticeship offering. To achieve this, the company has moved away from using third-party training plans and providers and instead launched its own scheme in 2018, which now treats apprentices as direct Rexel employees from the outset.
All apprentices are paid more than the amount as outlined by Government guidelines and they also receive holiday pay and other employee benefits, things that were not provided under the previous third-party apprenticeship scheme.
The company believes this goes a long way to making Rexel an attractive proposition for those looking for an apprenticeship and a real career alternative to the university degree route and all that entails for young people starting out in life.
One of Rexel’s most recent apprentice success stories is that of Jola Brocka, who joined the company’s scheme in 2015.
Today she is the Trade Counter Supervisor at the Rexel Worcester branch. Following completing an Extended Business Diploma to Level 3, Jola was looking for an apprenticeship scheme as she was keen to work in the electrical wholesale industry and to ‘earning while learning’.
Jola admits her first year was challenging, as she had no product knowledge and had to learn everything from scratch.
She said: “Everyone at the branch was very helpful and I was able to learn the system quite quickly, while at the same time picking up the necessary product knowledge.
“I worked on customer quotes, taking phone calls and serving on the trade counter, which went a long way to building my confidence.”
Jola’s career continued to be successful and she undertook an NVQ in Customer Service, which led to her moving into an internal sales role in April 2016.
This was followed by her receiving an Award for Training Excellence at the Electrical Wholesaler Magazine Awards 2017 in London.
Jola now also undertakes the key role of an apprentice mentor, where she is able to pass on the benefit of her experience to other up and coming apprentices at Rexel.
When asked about what advice would she give to other young people considering an apprenticeship, Jola said: “Always be yourself and don’t pretend to be anyone else.
“Also speaking to customers on the phone really is the quickest way to learn about the industry you are working in, the product and services and so on.”
Rexel offers between 70 – 80 apprentice opportunities every year.