As Aberdeen Asset Management signs up to Apprentice 100, we take a look at their own scheme for school leavers which they piloted in recent years.
The programme runs for 12-24 months and is designed to help apprentices learn about the organisation, meet the people involved and help them decide which area of the business to begin their career in.
Two current Aberdeen Asset Management apprentices – and another who has now gained a permanent position – reveal what their experiences have been like, in their own words.
Abigail Skene, 18, is a former pupil of Harlaw Academy
“I always had it in my mind that I was going to go to university and study law. However, there was something in the back of my mind which made me consider that it wasn’t suited for me. As soon as I heard about the apprentice scheme, I realised that this was the perfect opportunity. Coming in for work experience is very useful as it allows you to familiarise yourself with the office before starting the full-time job. I definitely made the right decision.
As well as on-the-job training from my team, my training has included intermediate excel training and an introduction to investment management course.
We have different rotations, to experience different parts of the company. For example, in the business systems team I was responsible for the content management of the intranet uploading daily press cuttings, sharepoint project testing and test scripts, adhoc analysis and monitoring the helpdesk in supportworks – which involves assigning tasks to the correct team member. I uploaded the press cuttings and learned more about HTML and was given some testing to do also for a client reporting project.
The apprenticeship sounded so beneficial and appealing to me: doing rotations in each six departments for four months at a time is an amazing way of learning about the company and how each department works. I couldn’t say no to an opportunity like this. I had never heard of an apprenticeship like this and knew that the chance wouldn’t come up again to apply for it.”
Phoenix Megginson, 20, a former pupil of Harlaw Academy
“In my final year at school I had no idea of what I was going to do. I had looked into a number of different university courses but university had never really appealed to me. After learning about Aberdeen Asset Management’s Apprentice Programme through numerous school visits, I jumped at the chance of being able to apply for the position. After two weeks’ work experience during the summer I was successful and I secured a post as an operations apprentice at the company.
Rotating means I am constantly learning new skills and knowledge. We are also given a huge amount of courses which we can take part in. Attending a number of “lunch and learns” helps me understand the different departments around the business. I’ve taken part in the intermediate and advanced excel courses which again help me with day-to-day work. I’ve also had the chance to participate in presentation skills, communication, time management… the list goes on and has grown constantly.
I’ve experienced different departments. Team members especially are always there to lend a hand and give you personal knowledge about the work they do.
The apprenticeship has given me opportunities which I would not otherwise have been able to grasp. As well as working full time, Aberdeen makes sure we are always growing and learning by giving us opportunities to study.
Aberdeen are supportive of young people coming into the investment world: we have regular meetings with managers, and one-to-ones with supervisors and mentors. Aberdeen cares about our wellbeing and always wants to know our opinion about how the offices and company are run.
Apprentices are not just given a job and left to it, we are involved just as much as employees that have been here for years and are treated exactly the same.”
Cameron Leslie, 20, a former pupil of St Machar Academy, was an apprentice for 21 months before he gained a full-time position as a client reporting administrator in June.
“I first found out about the apprenticeship programme during fifth year at school and I was one of the first to put my name forward for it.
I completed a two-week work experience placement during summer 2013 but decided to go back to school to gain more qualifications. During sixth year, I applied to study accountancy at Aberdeen College and at Aberdeen University as back-ups, but Aberdeen Asset was my first choice. When the opportunity came up again I grabbed it with both hands.
As an apprentice I have attended several different training courses to help increase my skills and knowledge. I have attended most of the soft skill training courses that Aberdeen offer in-house; this includes presentation skills, communication skills, time management and coping with change. I have also completed the companies’ mandatory compliance and e-learning courses. Insights profile discovery was another course that really helped as it told me about preferences and how you are perceived by others – it seemed to know me better than I did.
External training courses have also been available. Introduction to investment management has helped me gain a better understanding of the industry I am working in. I have become a qualified first-aider and am on track to complete my SVQ in business administration with the hope of starting my IOC soon. All of these opportunities have helped expand my knowledge and enhance my skills. They have helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses.
Fundraising is also part of the apprenticeship and I was involved in the Micro Tyco fundraising initiative which raised over £6,500 in a month in November last year.
I have enjoyed every minute of being at Aberdeen. It is a great company to work for and I have loved each rotation. In each rotation I have had the same responsibility as other team members who have been in the teams for years. This is one of the many reasons the apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity.
The apprenticeship programme is an unbelievable opportunity for any school leaver, especially being with such a great and established company like Aberdeen.
It is a great alternative to university as you are working while learning all about the company and gaining the knowledge and experiences. Learning on the job and progressing in a business environment is the apprenticeship’s main advantage over university.
It’s a great programme, and a great company, and I’m delighted to have secured a job with them."