11 February 2021 Employee Spotlight

National Apprenticeship Week: “My warehousing diploma will help me move up the ladder”

National Apprenticeship week

Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week 2021

As part of National Apprenticeship Week (NAW21), we are celebrating SMS employees who have been supported on their journeys of professional development, and who are now seeing their careers and working lives benefit as a result.

Taking place between 8 and 14 February 2021, NAW21 aims to encourage everyone to consider how apprenticeships help individuals to build the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career.

The 14th annual week-long celebration showcases the impact that further learning can have not just on individuals, but on wider businesses, and whole communities.

In the second of our case studies this week, Jon Tabram – an Operative at SMS’s warehouse in Bullrush, Doncaster – talks about his recently completed Level 3 Diploma in Warehousing & Storage.

Jon describes his interesting and varied career so far, his positive apprenticeship experience, and how the skills he’s gained have given him a fantastic foundation to progress.

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Case study:

Jon Tabram, SMS Warehouse Operative
Level 3 Diploma in Warehousing & Storage

After leaving school at 16 in the south-east of England, I trained and worked as a floor layer in London for seven years, before moving up to Yorkshire in 2003 to become a postman. I loved being a postie, but after 13 years doing the rounds, I’d decided it was time for a change.

I’d always had other interests – particularly football – and even trained whilst I was a postman to become a qualified football agent. After a short stint as a baggage handler in Doncaster airport, it was in 2018 I joined SMS as a warehouse operative. As you can tell from my career, I’ve always loved the manual and hands-on side of work, so working in the warehouse processing and packaging orders for our engineering team was a great fit.

After only a few months in the warehouse, I was approached by my manager to see if I’d be interested in an apprenticeship in Warehousing & Storage. With a strong desire to better myself and develop personally and professionally, it was an opportunity that I jumped at. I was so grateful to my managers for offering me the chance so soon after joining the company, and to the Learning & Development department for facilitating my study. I’ve always been very open to pursuing new opportunities, and this was one I was not about to miss out on!

The year-long apprenticeship, which I finished in spring 2020, was a brilliant experience. As a very practical person, I loved that the course was very focused on practical and applied learning, including all the skills and competencies required of staff in warehousing and storage, such as operating equipment, safety at work, and efficient order processing techniques. What was great about it is that, for the most part, my learning was applied in work hours. Though there was some out-of-hours study needed, like meeting with my tutor and some online modules, it was really easily manageable with my personal and family life.

What I found most valuable, particularly for my future career path, was the strong focus on team leadership and the logistical management of goods in and out of the warehouse. Gaining these skills have really opened my eyes to what is possible in this line of work and given me huge confidence in my capabilities. Since finishing the course, I see a massive difference in myself, both in the way I talk to people and how I can effectively instruct junior members of the warehouse team. I feel it’s really given me that ability now to start climbing the ladder at SMS.

The support I’ve received from the company in this process has been second to none, and I can’t be more thankful for the opportunity given to me. Though further learning can be daunting for many people, and especially so if it’s been a long time since you did any sort of education, what I would say is don’t be afraid: just go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain, and once you’ve started you won’t look back. The bit of commitment you have to put in is every bit worth it for your long-term professional development.

Find out more about National Apprenticeship Week 2021