Chesterfield Champions

Champions Round Table- National Apprenticeship Week 2021

National Apprenticeship Week 2021 – Round Table Special

From 8 – 14 February 2021, apprenticeships will be celebrated throughout the UK, including Chesterfield, as part of the 14th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW).

NAW 2021 is all about celebrating apprenticeships and highlighting the work done by employers and apprentices. This is an opportunity for employers to promote their apprenticeship schemes and jobs.

To celebrate NAW 2021, a very special apprentice round table was organized by Destination Chesterfield in conjunction with the Derbyshire Times.

The round table brought together 11 current and former apprentices working in organisations throughout Chesterfield and North East Derbyshire.

At the virtual round table attendees discussed the effects of the pandemic on their apprenticeship, the benefits of doing an apprenticeship and how they hope to be able to develop their careers.

Attending the round table Cllr Amanda Serjeant, vice chair of Destination Chesterfield and Deputy Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council with responsibility for apprenticeships, commented: “I am immensely grateful to everyone that took part in this special apprentice round table. It was really interesting to hear from apprentices in so many different sectors. It was particularly heartening to hear how apprenticeships have helped develop people’s confidence and raised everyone’s aspirations for the future.”

Apprenticeships and apprentices continue to be integral to the growth and development of the town’s economy; their role and contribution was recognised in 2018 when Chesterfield became the first town in the UK to declare itself an Apprentice Town.

Despite lockdown the apprenticeship message has remained strong. Last year, amid the pandemic, the state-of-the-art My Future virtual careers platform was also launched.

Developed by Chesterfield Borough Council, in partnership with Destination Chesterfield and the D2N2 North Derbyshire Careers Hub, the My Future platform offers Year 11 – 13 students in lockdown the opportunity to meet local employers and explore apprenticeship opportunities.

The Chesterfield Borough Council initiative demonstrates Chesterfield’s commitment to growing the future and careers of young people alongside business and the economy.

Employing 40 apprentices itself, Chesterfield Borough Council was named in November last year as being one of the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers in England.

More than 2,500 people are currently participating in apprenticeships in Chesterfield. Retaining and developing young talent in the town will help attract more employers to invest in the area supporting the area’s post pandemic recovery.


AM – Anna Melton – Director, In the Works PR (Chair)

LM – Leanne Mowbray – Level 3 Leadership and Management, Chesterfield Borough Council

AD – Abigail Denman – Level 3 Financial Services Administrator, Rosewood Wealth Management

LF – Lorna Finlay – Level 7 Accountancy and Taxation, CIMA route, Chesterfield College

JW – Jordan Wheatley – Level 3 Management Trailblazer, Essential Site Skills Ltd

EB – Eve Bennet – Level 3 Mechanical Engineering, MSE Hiller

EH – Elizabeth Hulbert – Level 3 CMI Team Leader, Chesterfield Borough Council

AW – Annie Whitaker – Level 2 Business Admin, Chesterfield Royal Hospital

JB – Jess Bradfield – Level 2 Business Admin, BRM Solicitors

LD – Luke Dilly – VTCT Level 2.5 Diploma for Hair Professionals (Barbering), Less than Zero Barbers

CW – Courtney Walton – Level 3 Business Admin, Polar Windows

SA – Stephen Archer – Business Development Manager, GBS Apprenticeships


How has the pandemic affected your apprenticeship?

 LF – I’ve been working from home since March 2020. I have regular updates with my manager, so I’ve been able to keep up to speed with everything, but it is a lot slower process than just turning around and speaking to someone in the office. Despite this, it’s run pretty smoothly for me.

EH – The pandemic pushed me to take on a more senior role in the organization, one I wouldn’t normally have had the opportunity to do at this stage in my career. It’s made me realise that I do actually like the management side of the job as I was able to try it out through the pandemic.

JW – I don’t think the pandemic has affected me or my apprenticeship. I’ve been able to use things like Zoom and our e-portfolio system, OneFile, has kept the apprenticeship moving forward.

EB – I’m classed as an essential worker and because of the equipment I use in my job I am unable to work from home, so things have stayed the same for me.

AW – I started my role at the hospital a week before lockdown. The pandemic has actually helped with my learning and development as I’ve had to step up and do other people’s job too if they were shielding and unable to work.

LD – With me doing a barbering apprenticeship, the pandemic held me back as I’m unable to cut hair. I’ve been doing lot of theory work and using doll’s heads and my brother to practice my cutting skills, but it’s not been the same for me.

LF – I was really panicking about my accountancy exams when they announced the first lockdown. The accountancy body CIMA reacted extremely quickly and we were able to take our exams online meaning I didn’t fall behind with my apprenticeship. If it wasn’t for that, I would’ve probably fallen behind by about a year.

JB – My first day here was the first day of national lockdown, so I don’t know any different and feel like I’ve progressed as I usually would have done. I’ve been supporting the residential department which I normally wouldn’t have had the chance to do and that’s great experience.

SA – As an apprentice training provider we’re as busy as ever, which is fantastic. All our learning has switched to remote which has meant that our training academy in Chesterfield which hasn’t been used for around a year now. However, the feedback from many of our apprentices is that they are really enjoying the remote learning process.


Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

LM – The earning on the job aspect of an apprenticeship really appealed to me as I wanted to get my own place as soon as possible. It also seemed a great way to fulfill career aspirations while earning. An apprenticeship made the most sense for me.

AW – I found that when I was at school, I was pushed into doing A Levels after finishing my GCSEs but it just wasn’t the right path for me.

EB – Learning on the job was the big appeal to me. I’ve never been the kind of person who can sit in a classroom listening to someone speak and just learn something. I find it much better actually doing it and learning practically.

AD – I don’t learn very well in a classroom environment either, it just doesn’t seem to sink in for me. When I’m learning on the job, I can put those skills into practice straight away and have that practical experience.

JB – I completed my degree at university and just couldn’t get a job due to a lack of experience. This apprenticeship was a way to get my foot in the door with an employers and show them the potential I actually have.

CW – I think a lot of opportunities can come out of your apprenticeship too. I started in an admin role and now it has become a much more practical role where I’m visiting sites when possible.

JW – I was promoted to the role that I’m in now and I saw an apprenticeship as a way to really help me progress into that role with more confidence and experience.

LF – I actually went to university, completed a degree and then moved onto an apprenticeship as a route to becoming a qualified accountant. I wish I’d know about the route before I went to university, because I’ll end up with the equivalent of a master’s degree and get paid doing it. I think apprenticeships will become even more popular going forward.

EH – When I was at school there was a lot of pressure on anyone who was academic to go and get a degree. Apprenticeships were never really seen as an option. As university fees have increased alongside the range of apprenticeships you can now do, I think it’ll make more sense to choose the apprenticeship route for a lot of people.


How can we encourage more people of all ages to consider an apprenticeship?

JW – Showcasing the success stories would be a great way to tell people about the opportunities that are out there. Showing people examples of where apprenticeships have worked could really help them realise it’s a path that’s definitely worth considering.

JB – As well as looking into university and college, people should also be encouraged to look at apprenticeships at the same time and make a decision based on what they think is going to be the right path for them.

LM –   Before choosing a route after school, young people should first think about what they want to get out of life. They can then select a path that works best for their situation.

JW – It’s never too early or late to think about what you want to do in the future.

LM – There is a stigma around older people doing an apprenticeship, but there really shouldn’t be. I’m in my 30s now and this is the third apprenticeship I’ve done – they’ve all been for different reasons at different points in my career, so I can continue with that progression.

EH – I am a real advocate of apprenticeships and I’d like to go out into schools and talk to the young people there about how apprenticeships can work and the opportunities that are out there.

How do you hope to progress after your apprenticeship?

AD – I’m actually studying to become a financial adviser alongside my apprenticeship, so I hope that I can go through all my exams and eventually become fully qualified in that area.

CW – I quite like the business admin side of things, but also like the project management that comes with the commercial side. I need to decide which path I want to go down moving forward.

LF – Once I’ve finished my apprenticeship, I’ll be a qualified accountant. Thanks to the apprenticeship I can go into a lot of different roles including Director of Finance.

JW – There are lots of avenues I could take within this company such as project management, centre management or even higher and they are all things I’m keeping in mind for moving forward.

LM – Level 3, which I’ve just completed, was mainly about bringing a higher level of confidence into my current role and I’m quite happy in the role I’m in right now, but would love to do Level 5 in the future and go further into management.

EB – I’d like to progress to Level 4, do an HNC and CAD (Computer Aided Design) work in the future.

LD – Once I’ve finished my apprenticeship, I’d like to become employed as a full-time barber and, eventually, open up my own barber shop. I might even study business to help me with that side of things.

JB – My next progression here is becoming a legal secretary and doing my Level 3 CILEx. I may even do my Level 6 CILEx.

EH – I’ve completed my apprenticeship now, but it’s certainly made me realise even more that I’d like to be involved in housing management moving forward. I’ve always wanted to work in housing for local government and my apprenticeship has put me on that path.


For further information about apprenticeships in Chesterfield visit:

For careers advice and guidance visit:


Destination Chesterfield is part funded by contributions from local businesses, Chesterfield Borough Council and the European Regional Development Fund. The project is helping to improve the economic prosperity of the town through a campaign to promote Chesterfield.

The local business community plays a central role in its success by both leading an independent Board of Directors for Destination Chesterfield, as well as businesses pledging their support to become Chesterfield Champions.

For more information about becoming a Chesterfield Champion, visit

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