By Mike Collins on the 1st August 2013

I’ve not watched any episodes of this year’s Apprentice. It just hasn’t appealed to me, I set the sky box up and did a series link but I’ve never found the time or had the inclination to sit down and watch the programme. I’ve heard bits and bobs about it from various sources and heard the odd conversation but I’ve not taking much notice of it. I’ve not wanted to.

Instead I’ve been watching another episode of the Apprentice unfold, an episode much closer to home and much closer to my heart.

A few months ago we started having conversations with The Apprentice Academy, based in Manchester they specialise in getting young people aged between 18-24 in to work. Things have been extremely busy at @DPGplc headquarters and before  I moved in to my new role we discussed our options to keep our digital marketing and social media management alive and growing.

We decided that finding new talent was important and that taking on an apprentice was the right thing to do so we created a digital apprentice role. The Apprentice Academy found suitable candidates and arranged interviews and when Debora walked through the door it was as if she’d worked here for years. Friendly, smiling and enthusiastic she soon introduced herself to everyone and expressed her desire and ambitions to take on the world. I was sold and we offered Debora the position soon after.

@Little_Figs was born.

Debora joined us 6 weeks ago following an initial week at Bootcamp arranged by the Apprentice Academy to prepare her for the world of work. Since Bootcamp she has been building her profile and personal brand under the twitter handle @Little_Figs (please connect with her) and is learning all about our products, services and the wonderful world of L&D and HR. I’ve found supporting her through her induction in to DPG really enjoyable. It’s been great seeing her become part of the team and setting her down a path that I know she will enjoy walking. At just 17 she is ready to take on the world and has brought a breathe of fresh air to the DPG office with her open style and creative approach.

She has set up a blog and will use it to share her experiences as she progresses in her role and throughout her qualification as Debora is undertaking a level 2 NVQ in Business Administration. The term The Apprentice Academy use is ‘learn while you earn’ and I think this is a good way of putting it. The things that Debora has done already belies her age, I started writing this post a few weeks ago but when I saw the post from @RobJones-Tring called The One With The Apprentice  I knew I had to pull my finger out and get this finished as more needs to be done to raise the awareness of apprenticeships. With over 1 million young people out of work it is an excellent way to help young people who wish to take a different route to higher education. Debora herself was very clear on the fact she didn’t want to go to university and be lumbered with a huge amount of debt at such as early age. Another example of how screwed on her head is.

I have to admit I’ve been surprised by how quickly Debora has taken to working life and I’ve enjoyed working with her immensely.  I admire her boldness and the fact she isn’t afraid to try anything – even the video below (which she didn’t want to do initially) and the speed in which she learns new things is amazing. Perhaps I was expecting something different, someone who would come in and think answering the phones or doing the post was a stretch but not Debora. Debora craves responsibility, wants to succeed and do well and more than anything she wants to feel part of the DPG team.

After only 6 weeks she is already a great addition to the team and I’m excited for her as I know she will take the opportunities that will come her way in her stride with a smile on her face. Why not meet her yourself and watch the video below produced by Lee Holdsworth of @MotionalDigitalUK

If you’ve got any questions about apprenticeships or the process we’ve been through I’d be more than happy to share.

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