This week (8-14 February) is National Apprenticeship Week in England, with the theme being “Build the Future”.

The theme 'Build the Future' aims to showcase how building skills and knowledge through an apprenticeship can lead to a rewarding career. To highlight the importance of apprenticeships, our very own Visitor Service Manager, Kate tells us about her experience.

I am the Visitor Service Manager at Windermere Information Centre and Mountain Goat. I have worked for the company since 2015, starting off as a sales assistant in the café and then the Tourist Information Centre, to now organising the Windermere Christmas Celebration, and being the Visitors Service Manager for one of the busiest tourist information centres outside of London. I started my degree apprenticeship in September 2019, The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) in the Visitor Economy at the University of Cumbria.

This three-year degree apprenticeship was created in a bid to strengthen the talent in the hospitality and tourism industry within Cumbria, the course is beneficial in retaining valued, experienced and trusted team members. The degree helps existing, new and aspiring managers to develop their skills and knowledge, enabling them to take a lead responsibility for people, projects, operations or services, therefore providing the foundation for long-term business success. The course was specifically designed and developed for the industry; there are only 24 days of campus learning during the low season each year.

Since starting the course, I have learnt skills within business operations, marketing, sales and finance which I have brought into the workplace and adapted to my role in the company. As part of the course, I have focused on certain areas of the business and worked on particular projects putting the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt into real life practise.

With the increasing fees placed on University placements, this apprenticeship programme has been the perfect way to continue learning, develop my career and skills outside the traditional academic model. I have developed a real taste of the working world with hands-on experience, understanding the industry and development opportunities, first-hand whilst being paid a salary and honing in on my skills while at work.

Robin Tyson, Operations Director said “Alongside Kate’s new ideas, it is great to hear fresh new industry knowledgeable through Kate from her colleagues and the professors on the course. It is great to constantly adapt and make sure we are doing the best within the business that we can be”.

Finally, I would encourage anyone to consider an apprenticeship, for me it has propelled my career development and I have learnt so many new skills from this course, I wouldn’t have otherwise. I have gained hands on experience and can put the theory behind the course straight into practise in the workplace.