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“I swapped uni for an apprenticeship... now I’m loving my new career in Carlisle” – National Apprenticeship Week: Amelia’s Story

Amelia Hall was on a well-worn path. Having gone to sixth form and dutifully submitted her university applications, it was a route that could have taken her away from Cumbria to study law.

But she suddenly had a change of heart. The 18-year-old who grew up in Carlisle started to look into alternatives, inspired by her ground engineer sister. “I just wasn’t big on that university lifestyle, partying every night. Plus my friends, family and partner were all here in Carlisle. I was itching to earn some money and start making progress.

“I didn’t know much about apprenticeships, but my sister said there were some advertised where she works.” Intrigued, Amelia looked into roles at Story Contracting, the national civil engineering and construction business with a base in Carlisle. The job of Marketing and Communications Coordinator caught her eye, a role she landed and started just a week after finishing sixth form last summer.

The apprenticeship sees her mix learning on the job with a two-year remote marketing qualification from the Cambridge Marketing College.

Now, Amelia spends her days being mentored by members of the marketing team, alongside donning hard hats and safety boots on site visits to Scotland for worthwhile community outreach events.

She said: “Working in marketing for the construction industry is different. I love it … it’s varied, exciting and interesting. Story has been a great place to work, my manager and the team have been real mentors investing lots of time into my development. Despite being a trainee, I’ve been made to feel like part of the team, not once have I felt looked down on by anyone in the organisation.”

Amelia is encouraging other young people to consider all the options before diving into university. “I could easily have been at university, spending £10,000 a year and getting into debt,” she adds. “Here, I’m earning a wage, gaining valuable experience and getting qualified. I’d once set my heart on a law career, but I’m now hoping to continue in communications.”

The proud Cumbrian is one of a cohort of apprentices that started with Story last year – albeit she’s outnumbered in the group by engineers and construction apprentices. But that hasn’t stopped her relishing the challenge of building the organisation’s brand.

Amelia grew up in the age of social media, so she was able to offer insight from day one. She said: “Social media has been around my whole life. I’m no influencer, but I consume a lot of info via social platforms and like posting interesting content. My job has allowed me to take that interest – that most young people do as a hobby – and get paid for it, applying it in a professional way.

“We’ve recently been running recruitment campaigns aimed at young people and graduates. It’s been great as, being an 18-year-old, I’ve been able to give the target audience’s view and make strategic suggestions on channels to use and messages that will resonate.”

She thinks that greater exposure and variety of apprenticeships – leading to rewarding careers – could encourage more young people to stay in Cumbria after they finish school or college. “I’d say explore every avenue and just give something a go. This wasn’t a career I’d been dreaming of for years, but I’ve really enjoyed it and want to keep developing my skills.”

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