Branching out into Head Office with an apprenticeship

Branching out into Head Office with an apprenticeship

Published: 10 February 2022

Chris Blewitt was already a branch manager when he enrolled on our ILM Level 4 apprenticeship.

His management skills had been picked up organically during his working career. He joined the Society as Tubwell Row’s branch manager. However, he could see the value of studying leadership and management theory to improve his skills and future prospects.

The course was facilitated by Middlesbrough College, where Chris went once a month. He completed regular assignments and to put his college lessons into practice in his role with the Society.

Chris’ progress was assessed through regular conversations with his course tutor, as well as visits to his workplace. This ensured that Chris was getting the most out of the course.

He remembers it as “a very positive experience”, saying: “Originally, I had learned my management skills by watching how other managers worked. Doing the qualification as an apprenticeship with Darlington Building Society meant that I was learning the theory behind the practice. I could then tie this theory back to my workplace.

“Having someone outside of the Society to act as a sounding board was helpful, as they could see things differently. My tutor’s feedback helped me to develop my skills.”

Continuing the learning journey

After gaining his Level 4 qualification, Chris moved into a new role at Head Office, before progressing to Level 5.

“Doing the Level 4 apprenticeship had really helped me in my role when I was in branch. So I knew that Level 5 – which is more in-depth – would benefit me in my current role and as I progressed,” he said.

With a full-time job and a young family, Chris knew that he would be taking on additional work to achieve Level 5. But he wasn’t daunted.

“I knew the college day-release dates early on, so I got them in the diary immediately,” he explains. “The Society supported me by allowing me time to complete assignments during my working hours. Although, as far as possible, I did them in my own time. However I knew that if life got in the way, I had the option to complete assignments during the working day.”

His experience has made Chris a real advocate of apprenticeships. Now the Society’s Head of Intermediary Distribution, he encourages anyone who is unsure of their career path to consider an apprenticeship.

“An apprenticeship gives you a foot in the door. You can work your way up the career ladder while being supported. Apprenticeships benefit both the learner and the employer.”

On the issue of the Society’s ‘Growing Our Own Talent’ ethos, he said: “Why would you not develop and retain your own employees, offering them the chance of a fulfilling and rewarding career, which also benefits the company?”

Darlington Building Society is celebrating apprenticeship achievements throughout the Society this National Apprenticeship Week. You can follow the series here.

Find out more about National Apprenticeships Week  – Home – National Apprenticeship Week

Find out more about careers at Darlington Building Society – Careers – Darlington Building Society