PFE’s Apprenticeship Scheme – Shaping the Future of our Company

PFE’s Apprenticeship Scheme – Shaping the Future of our Company
July 28, 2017 Hannah Marshallsay
apprenticeship scheme

We’re particularly proud of the PFE Business Administration Apprenticeship scheme we started a number of years ago. We initiated the scheme because the business was growing and we wanted to give young people a career opportunity here. We know that freight forwarding is not the sort of career that many people plan for, it’s the kind of career that people fall into. But it can be a very rewarding and has great prospects.

Our 12 month apprenticeship not only allows young people to achieve a Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Business Administration, but it provides a real job opportunity. Many of our apprentices have gone on to successful full time positions within the company. At PFE we see our young apprentices as the future of the company and we’re keen to listen to their ideas in helping the business to grow and develop.

The PFE scheme has had a good success rate. In the last five years we’ve taken on seven apprentices. Two of those young people will be completing their apprenticeship year this year. Of the five that have already finished, three are still working with us full time.

“We’ve had a number of youngsters join us and we are delighted to see how much they’ve grown and are now thriving.” says Abi Girling, Key Accounts Manager. “The industry is problem solving by nature. It is therefore a challenging environment for young people when they start. There will always be the expectation that a solution can be found for what sometimes can be quite complex problems. But no two days are the same and the work here is extremely varied and very busy. If you’re the sort of person that likes a fast paced environment, the freight forwarding industry would suit you well.”

We spoke to four of our apprentice successes: Lauren, Jack, Toby and Ben (as pictured above) and asked them about their experiences on the PFE scheme.

Lauren Cocca completed the PFE Apprenticeship scheme in September 2016.

I had just finished sixth form where I’d been studying my A levels. I decided that rather than going to university that I would get an administration job that came with a business diploma or certificate of some kind. I found the Business Apprenticeship scheme on the Gov website and registered my interest there. Before my interview I didn’t even know what logistics was! In everyday life, freight forwarding just happens. But there is a lot more to it than you would expect. I have found learning about the process really interesting. For example I couldn’t believe that it takes nearly a month to ship something from China.

My PFE apprenticeship lasted a year and then I was offered a full time job. That felt like a real sense of achievement – that I’d managed to get a job and I knew that I was doing a good job here and helping the department. I’m really enjoying my role. I like being busy so it’s perfect for me. There’s always something happening here and a problem to solve. I’m really happy working at PFE. I’d like to go into Management one day.

Jack Hadley started the PFE apprenticeship scheme in January 2017.

I had a couple of friends in Shipping and having talked to them I thought that this was a career worth exploring. I found  the PFE scheme on the government website. But in the end I called PFE directly and spoke to the HR Director. I went in for an interview, discussed what I wanted to do and she created a role for me.

I have been surprised about how much work goes into getting a shipment from point A to point B and the many different problems that can arise along the way. You’ve got be calm and composed to tackle the problems that occur  and good at problem solving in this job.

Working at PFE has been great so far. I’m really enjoying it. It’s the first job where there is not a single person in the office that I don’t get on with. I don’t ever not look forward to coming into the office. Everyone here supports each other. I ever need help, I’ll get the support I need. But at the same time I’m always being given different things to do so I am challenged and am constantly learning. I don’t picture myself ever wanting to leave.

Toby Smith currently in his 10th month of the PFE apprenticeship scheme.

I’d finished college and was working in kitchens as something to do. Then I decided that I needed to find something more long term so started looking for apprenticeship positions. When I came to my interview at PFE I’d done some basic research about the industry but didn’t know a lot.

I’m finding the supply chain really interesting. There are so many working cogs that I didn’t know about. Also stuff like stock liability, what happens when stock gets damaged or deliveries are short of stock – I didn’t even think before about all of those issues that might happen.  I’m really enjoying being at PFE and hope that I’ll continue to be here for a good while yet.

Ben Gibbs completed the PFE Apprenticeship scheme in September 2016.

I was at college studying Film & TV but a few months into it I decided I wanted to stop education. I particularly wanted to improve my people skills so that I could be more assertive. I knew nothing about logistics. No-one at college says I want to go into freight forwarding.

When I first started at PFE the complexity of the process of shipping stuff was mind blowing. There was so much more to it than I expected. The effort that goes into getting things, once they arrive in this country, to the customer quickly is incredible. But that’s the way PFE works, we get everything in and out the day after it arrives. It’s really impressive.

I finished my apprenticeship year and then I was offered a job.  My people skills have definitely improved! I’ve had to learn to become more assertive especially when I’m dealing with suppliers. I’ve needed to be able to to push people to give me information to ensure that we deliver the service to our customers that they expect. Another thing that has improved is my geography. I was born in Maldon, Essex. I’ve lived in Maldon my whole life. I didn’t know many places beyond my local environment. Now I know lots more places on the UK map!





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