Case study: How an apprenticeship can launch your career

Fay Daniels
Marketing Manager - Contracts | Business West
7th February 2023

Andrew McDermott, Business Skills Advisor at Business West, tells us  how an apprenticeship was the best way to launch his career.

Like many pupils in secondary school, I did not know what I wanted to do for a future career. I left school with reasonable grades but all the hallmarks of a person without direction. I had jobs after leaving college but nothing that would give me the long-term job prospects I was seeking.

Then I decided I was going to be an Apprentice! I love being around people and enjoyed the idea of working within sport. My local sports centre had an apprenticeship position as a Recreation Assistant, where I was able to earn a good wage, gain qualifications and most importantly find my calling. I joined an organisation that wanted to provide young people opportunities to learn and develop.

“It is incredible what the right working environment and having a mentor to look up to will do for your confidence, self-worth and motivation.” 

The sports centre had a well-established link to an independent training provider that would support me in achieving my funded qualification that gave me the knowledge of the sector and the qualifications to have a positive impact on the business.

"Training meant everything to me and fuelled my desire to give as much as I could back to the organisation."

My mentor during that time is still a close friend that I can go to for career or personal advice. I worked for the sports centre for 5 years and this provided me the moral compass and personal traits that would open doors in the future to allow my career to flourish. 

What I did not know then when I started my apprenticeship was that 14 years later, I would have had the opportunity to work for some fantastic organisations and meet incredible people that would help shape and mould me in to the professional I am today. 

"If I could go back to my younger self and provide wisdom and advice, I would not change a thing apart from make sure I appreciate and listen to people who are trying to guide me." 

Since leaving the sports centre, I have been on a fantastic journey. I decided that I wanted to work with apprentices and made to leap to the independent training provider scene. I have had the honour of working for an Ofsted graded 1 provider, employer training provider and a community interest company where I was able to use and develop the same skills shown to me as an apprentice. 

Now I am working with Business West to support businesses in the West of England to identify and address their skills needs, by retraining employees and/or bringing in new staff to the organisation, which could include apprentices or work placements, to drive their business forward.

Some young people from an early age will know what they want to be when they get older, some have certain motivations that will help them make informed decision to put them on the right path. Others might follow family trends or even a family business. The entry into employment is vast and unpredictable but we all have to start somewhere.  

“My biggest takeaway from being an apprentice, then recruiting, training and developing apprenticeship programs is that most people just need the guidance and support to find their spark or calling.”

Apprenticeships are a powerful tool that not only provides the candidate the opportunities but also can have huge benefits to the organisation.

"I firmly believe that all adults in any sector are role models for the future workforce and helping others to develop and hone their skills will have a mutually rewarding impact to the business with tangible results." 

Without meeting my mentor, Dave Pond, on my apprenticeship, I would not have the family, the lifestyle and career that I am very proud of today. I am lucky enough to be one of many stories of the power of apprenticeships.

I am a product of what can happen if an organisation takes time to consider their infrastructure and culture when recruiting.  My main motivation since leaving my apprenticeship has stayed the same - to support others to find their path in life and reach their personal or professional potential. 



Business West is delivering Workforce for the Future in collaboration with other partners and the West of England Combined Authority.

For more information on Workforce for the Future, please visit the West of England Growth Hub. The Growth Hub is the West of England Combined Authority’s dedicated business support service which offers free, one-to-one advice and guidance for SMEs.

The West of England Workforce for the Future programme has received £4m of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit:


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