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Justin Harrison, 31, returned to college to start a Customer Service Apprentice in 2018 after taking time out to care for his mother. Two years on, Justin has not only passed his apprenticeship but has also secured a permanent position as a College Advisor with the same organisation where he studied- the University of Derby.

Following his recent success, we caught up with Justin to see how he his life has changed since completing his apprenticeship with Buxton and Leek College.

Could you tell us what your new job role is and what your day-to-day duties involve?

“I’m now a College Advisor in the College of Health and Social Care. My responsibilities are to assist academics in the administration of the various courses under the College […]helping arrange placements, working to enrol students, helping to organise exams, and various other functions…” 

Do you continue to use the skills you learned as an apprentice in this new role?

“The Customer service skills I learned during my apprenticeship have been invaluable so far. Students are the key focus of what we do, so I have learned how to put them at ease and make sure the advice I give is clear and understood.”

Has your new career affected you in more ways than you thought it would? 

“I grew in confidence during the course of my apprenticeship. I am not sure I would have applied for the kind of job that I have taken now without having done it.I was very lacking in confidence before and now I am enthusiastic about my new role and feel I can really contribute something useful to it.” 

Do you have any advice for adults who may be unsure whether an apprenticeship is right for them?

“If any adults are considering an apprenticeship I highly recommend it. They come in so many varieties now even up to degree and masters standards. There is an apprenticeship out there for anyone. It’s a good opportunity to get back into work if you have been out of it for a long time, as you can learn as you earn.”

You previously mentioned you worked as a Student Ambassador whilst at University and this is now something we offer students at BLC, would you recommend it?

“Working as a Student Ambassador was fun, as it gave me the opportunity to meet with and talk to prospective students and their families. A wide variety of people from across the country and in some cases across the world. It’s an opportunity to show how good University life can be, and if you would like to work in a University setting it’s a good way to get your foot in the door.”

Dr Tim Zijlstra, Library Experience and Skills Manager, worked closely with Justin during his apprenticeship and was eager to comment on his achievement. He said:

“To see Justin not only successfully pass his apprenticeship assessment with flying colours, but also see him obtain a post as College Advisor at our lovely Chesterfield Campus is amazing. It has been a real privilege working with Justin over the past year and it shows how powerful apprenticeships can be in creating opportunities.”

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