Rexel reflects on its apprenticeship scheme, and introduces one of its apprentices who has already gone on to become a mentor just a few years into her own career.
Apprenticeships have always played a key role in the electrical industry in terms of attracting and developing the next generation of talent that will service the sector in years to come. From those training as electricians to those working in the wider industry, such as in a distribution environment, ensuring a steady flow of ‘new blood’ is essential to keeping it dynamic and forward thinking.
Rexel has moved away from using third-party training plans and providers and instead launched its own scheme in 2018, which now treats apprentices as direct Rexel employees from the outset. All apprentices are paid more than the amount as outlined by government guidelines and they also receive holiday pay and other employee benefits, things that were not provided under the previous third-party apprenticeship scheme. The company believes this goes a long way to making Rexel an attractive proposition for those looking for an apprenticeship and a real career alternative to the university degree route and all that entails for young people starting out in life.
One of Rexel’s most recent apprentice success stories is that of Jola Brocka, who joined the company’s scheme in 2015. Today she is the trade counter supervisor at the Rexel Worcester branch. Following the completion of an Extended Business Diploma to Level 3, Jola was looking for an apprenticeship scheme as she was keen to work in the electrical wholesale industry and ‘earning while learning’. Jola admits her first year was challenging, as she had no product knowledge and had to learn everything from scratch.
“Everyone at the branch was very helpful and I was able to learn the system quite quickly, while at the same time picking up the necessary product knowledge," said Jola. "I worked on customer quotes, taking phone calls and serving on the trade counter, which went a long way to building my confidence.”
Jola’s career continued to be successful and she undertook an NVQ in Customer Service, which led to her moving into an internal sales role in April 2016. This was followed by her receiving an Award for Training Excellence at the Electrical Wholesaler Magazine Awards 2017 in London.
Nowadays, Jola also undertakes the key role of an apprentice mentor, where she is able to pass on the benefit of her experience to other up-and-coming apprentices at Rexel. When asked about what advice would she give to other young people considering an apprenticeship, Jola said: “Always be yourself and don’t pretend to be anyone else. Also, speaking to customers on the phone really is the quickest way to learn about the industry you are working in, the product and services and so on.”