AN ENFIELD trainee accountant has won an all-expenses paid trip to Paris after being named North London’s Apprentice of the Year by social mobility charity, Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB).
Will Baker, 19, was presented with the award by the Lord Mayor of London, Charles Bowman, and LTSB Chairman, David Pinchin, in a glamorous graduation ceremony held at Mansion House, London also attended by friends and relatives.
The delighted teenager said: “I feel like I’ve come a long way since I started the apprenticeship and I’m happy about how much I’ve changed and developed as a person.
“I’ve grown a lot during the programme and winning this prize today is the icing on the cake.”
Will says his life was transformed when he was encouraged to join the apprenticeship scheme, Leadership Through Sport & Business (LTSB).
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The pioneering programme, which helps young disadvantaged people secure top jobs in business and finance with blue chip companies, helped Will – who had no previous work experience – land a top apprenticeship with NEX Group, the financial services giant recently bought for $5.5 billion.
Will said the programme was priceless in preparing him for the job at one of the world’s leading risk management companies and wants to encourage other youngsters to follow suit as he feels schools should offer an alternative to university.
He said: “I’m more of a hands-on learner and like to learn by doing so I thought an Apprenticeship would work best for me.
“If you’re not sure whether university is right for you, then don’t take the risk!”
The initiative provides an alternative to university by offering a clear career pathway for 16 – 21-year olds interested in a career in finance.
LTSB encourages the development of leadership skills by delivering career development workshops and interview practice for apprentices with the help of corporate volunteers.
Will thinks that these workshops were crucial for his development:
“I always found it nerve-racking talking to people I didn’t know. It helped me realise that I’m just talking to a human being.”
“At first I was a bit out of my comfort zone but soon I found my stride and just got on with it.”
In light of the apprentice levy that reduced the amount of apprenticeship opportunities, the responsibility to create career pathways for school-leavers has fallen to initiatives like LTSB.
At the graduation ceremony on Monday the Lord Mayor of London acknowledged the “importance of empowering the next generation.”
He worked for accountancy firm PwC for 30 years, believes accountancy is a “brilliant qualification” and pointed out that one-in-five FTSE 100 CEO’s have a qualification in accountancy.
LTSB Chairman, David Pinchin, praised Will and the rest of the cohort for graduating a programme that transforms “sleepy school leavers to workers ready to hit the ground running.”
Pinchin launched LTSB in 2011 after a successful career in the city where he co-founded brokers Tradition Financial Services in 1985.
He said: “I am deeply moved and inspired by what we have achieved over the last six years and am looking forward to the next six with great excitement. Our outcomes and impact have been extremely positive and dramatic in many cases. We have over 60 employers but can never have too many.”
If you or someone you know is aged 16-21 and hungry for a career in business and finance with a major firm, but don’t have the social capital to find success on your own, then LTSB wants to meet you. For more info, email [email protected] or visit https://www.leadershipthroughsport.org/join-the-programme/ and apply now!