Luke understands the value of an Apprenticeship, and was delighted when he got a place with Darlington Building Society.

He had previously completed two Apprenticeships – first at a call centre, where, once qualified, he couldn’t see any obvious progression; and then on the horticultural team with a housing association. Unfortunately, the arrival of Covid-19 meant that the company needed to trim their workforce, so Luke decided to look elsewhere.

He saw that Darlington Building Society was taking on a number of apprentices, and, on asking around about the company, was heartened to hear that there was lots of opportunity for progression within the business.

“There was very little chance of progression with my previous placements, and I am very keen to do well and progress,” says Luke. “That seems to be what Darlington Building Society wants their staff to do, so I was excited to apply. I also learned that it was a local business with close ties to the community, which I liked the sound of.”

Luke, 21, was quite nervous when he attended the assessment day, which involved a group scenario and then an interview.

“I didn’t think I was going to get the job, so when I did get an offer, I was over the moon,” he says, happily.

Luke is training as a Customer Service Assistant, based in the Stockton branch, but has helped out at the Barnard Castle branch in recent months, so can appreciate how the different branches operate.

“Stockton is quite a big, busy branch,” he explains, “whereas Barny is much smaller, and not quite as busy. Although I’m usually on the front counter in Stockton, the day I spent in Barny meant that I was more involved with different aspects of behind-the-scenes tasks.

“I enjoyed the variety, and, in the future, I would love to do more of the office-based work. The next step would be Customer Service Consultant, and then I’d like to progress from there.”

Luke has his own training plan, and any issues can be discussed with his manager at their regular one-to-one meetings. More specific learning requirements that Luke feels he needs, are always sorted out immediately.

Having already completed two apprenticeships meant that he already understood the college-based part of the programme. He can see how the modules he has to complete support what he is doing in-branch, and how they provide a better insight into the business as a whole.

Luke also appreciates how important it is to work within a team. He says: “Even though I’ve only been here a few months, I feel like I can depend on all my co-workers. We get on really well and they’re always happy to help me, and to explain things. The organisation feels like a family.”