George Balding at DSP Supplies

My apprentice experience so far…

After finishing college, I knew I didn’t want to go to university. The idea of finishing a degree in 3 years and coming out into the world where I would have debt up to my eyeballs and no job to go into worried me greatly, which is why I looked for alternatives and ultimately came across Swarm.

Having had a friend who had already gone through the Swarm apprenticeship program with great success, I knew that by being a Swarm apprentice I would gain both the practical skills and the knowledge needed in order to succeed in my future career. What I felt was different about the Swarm apprenticeship compared to other apprenticeship providers, is the focus to coach and develop a more business-like mindset, which I felt would be ideal for someone like me.

When starting the apprenticeship, you are asked to identify areas you feel you need to improve. For example I identified a lack of confidence as a major drawback for myself. Having now done the apprenticeship for 5 months and having gone to every workshop session, I feel I have gone from strength to strength in terms of improving my confidence, which is having great effects on the work I do for my apprenticeship and also work I do for the company I am part of.

The workshops are done once a month and each session has a different area to focus on. The group size is kept quite small, with between 5 to 10 people for each session to allow for discussions to happen. This is great and happens frequently during the workshops, and it feels a lot like a 1:1 session when in a small group, something which I feel is a lot more comfortable and useful. The balance between writing work, note taking and performing practical tasks as a group allow the workshops to maintain fresh throughout the whole day as well as useful and informative.

Another element of the workshops which I find useful and interesting is the frequent use of guest speakers, for example Chris Perry who is Managing Director of Swarm and also local business entrepreneurs such as Alex Tosh, who is Founder of the company Creative Sponge. By having guest speakers we can gain real world advice on how we should approach tasks for our apprenticeship courses and advice on how we should go about setting up and running our own companies in the future, which is something I have become more interested in doing since starting the apprenticeship.

As well as workshops every month, 1:1 meetings with your assessor are had every month to make sure that you are progressing as expected and keeping up to date with the work, something which I find beneficial as it allows me to stay focused on what I need to do each month.

Overall life as a Swarm apprentice could not be better. The workshops are both fun and, most importantly, useful and informative, and everyone involved in the running of the apprenticeship is very supportive and clearly want to help and watch you succeed. My advice to anyone who is interested in becoming an apprentice is to become a Swarm apprentice!

George Balding, Trainee Assistant Manager, DSP Supplies