Sheffield school-leaver Sophia Ward was predicted a clutch of GCSE A-grades. But whatever her results this week, unlike many from the COVID class of 2020, the 16-year-old will be unruffled...
She landed a job interview during the pandemic and started work as a Digital Marketing Apprentice on July 6.
High Storrs pupil Sophia grew up helping in her dad’s family business and wanted to get into I.T. via an apprenticeship rather than continuing in education.
But when COVID-19 lockdown brought school life to a halt on March 20, she watched the UK economy collapse and feared she would struggle to find a job.
Her hopes rose, though, when she saw an apprenticeship in a different sector advertised by The Source Skills Academy.
“I received her application for an admin role and her abilities stood out,” said Kerry Cook, Business Development Officer with the leading Sheffield-based training provider.
“She was perfect for a more demanding digital marketing apprenticeship, advertised before lockdown by Sheffield estate agents Blenheim Park Estates.
Blenheim Park Estates, who have eight employees and operate across Sheffield, Yorkshire and Derbyshire, had put recruiting on hold, but interviewed Sophia when Kerry explained she was a stand-out candidate.
"When I got the job I just couldn’t believe it,” said Sophia, of High Storrs. “This was my opportunity of a career. I grabbed it with both hands.
“It has been a really difficult few months for people my age who worked really hard throughout secondary school and never got to prove themselves with exams, or say goodbye to their classmates,” said Sophia, who was due to sit 20 exams.
“But I am now in a job I’m loving with a supportive company. I feel really lucky.”
Blenheim regularly takes on apprentices across their Estates and Developments businesses, reaping the benefits of bringing in young people and moulding them into permanent staff, and have a strong relationship with The Source’s recruiters and trainers.
Marketing Manager Emma Brocklebank, who joined Blenheim as an apprentice four years ago on leaving college, said:
“Sophia had high predicted grades, but what impressed us was her confidence and passion. She was exactly what we were looking for.
“We found her thanks to the match-making skills of Kerry at The Source. Lockdown had put our apprentice search on hold, but taking on an apprentice was the right thing to do. Not only is our business thriving, we have enabled a 2020 school-leaver to begin their career in a very uncertain time.
"We hope other businesses will look past the A-level and GCSE grades issue and give young people with a strong work ethic the chance they deserve.”
This article was published at scci.org.uk