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'Why my Apprenticeship worked for me' - Rachel Maddison

7 January 2016

I left 6th form with three decent A levels, and after a gap year I started at the University of Brighton. I choose Biology as it was my favourite subject, but had no real idea of what I wanted to do career-wise. After two years I left due to poor performance, and started to look for a job. Apart from a few temporary bar jobs, I couldnít find a full-time position anywhere.

Previously, Iíd dismissed Apprenticeships as an option for people who werenít suited to university and assumed they were really only for trade or beauty professions. However, after learning more about the range of subjects and training involved, I realised that not only were Apprenticeships the best way to start off in a wide range of sectors, but that it was simply a different, more practical way of learning.

Rachel Maddison - Procurement Advisor, Brighton & Hove City Council

Rachel Maddison - Procurement Advisor, Brighton & Hove City Council

I decided to go for a Level 3 Business and Administration Apprenticeship with Brighton & Hove City Council , and was excited to be able to work full-time while also studying. City College helped me to work out what units to take that would suit my job and main duties, and helped me understand how to complete my portfolio. My assessor visited me at work once a month to go through my work, and was always available by email if I needed any help. I also attended the College to complete my functional skills in English and ICT, and found the lessons easy to understand and very relevant to the tests.

My role at the Council was in the Procurement department, and after nine months of starting my Apprenticeship, I successfully applied for a permanent position in the team as a Procurement Advisor. The hands-on practical style of learning Iíd experienced had taught me so much more in those few months than I feel two years of University would have. Iím still working for the Council and am about to start my second Apprenticeship in Procurement and Supply Management.

My day-to-day work involves providing consultancy services to clients and commissioners from across the Council, mainly in the Childrenís Services department. I ensure that when they are buying services, it is in line with the law, council regulations, and is also good value for money. Itís a challenging role but a rewarding one as I feel Iím making a positive difference in the delivery of vital services. It still astounds me to think two years ago I was unemployed and lacking any kind of confidence or direction, and now Iím happy in a job I love.

I would definitely recommend all young people to consider an Apprenticeship, as it is not only a way to start a career by actually working full-time, but a great way to gain qualifications and learn in a more realistic, practical environment. Plus you not only avoid the debt of university, but get paid a decent wage.

If you're interested in Apprenticeships, contact City Collegeís Apprenticeships team on 01273 667700 or email