Can you please tell us about your experience of being an apprentice?
I left school at 16 years of age. At that time there were only 2 possible routes for me, either following my family and work down the coal pit or find an apprenticeship. So, I decided to go down the apprenticeship route, and secured one at Tinsley Wire in Sheffield as an apprentice pipe fitter.
I loved being an apprentice, I was taught a skill whilst being mentored, and I got paid at the same time - a win-win for me. Doing an apprenticeship also allowed me to develop as a person, in terms of my confidence, my communication skills, and learning how to work as part of team. I loved my time at Tinsley Wire and I look back at it with very fond memories.
So, how did you end up in the automotive industry?
I worked in the steel industry for nearly 5 years, until there started to be a decline in the sector and people were being made redundant.
I knew that my next move needed to be to a job where I could deal with customers. I was very lucky as my uncle owned a business selling life and home insurance, so I joined him. I did this job for the next 2 years, knocking on doors and selling insurance. I really enjoyed it as I got to meet and speak to a lot of people. This job allowed me to understand how to look after customers and exceed their expectations - great training.
I had always had a passion for cars and at the time I owned a Ford Cortina (I loved that car) and decided that what I really wanted to do was be a car salesman at a Ford dealership. Unfortunately, following an interview at the local Ford garage I didn't get the job but did get a job at the Vauxhall site in Sheffield. That was the start of my career in the automotive industry.
What were your first impressions of the automotive industry?
For the first 10 days of starting my job in the sales team I received excellent in-house training. I didn’t speak to a customer or sell a car. The focus was entirely on understanding the sales process, how to speak to a customer and how to provide good customer care. I was then allocated a mentor to work alongside, which was fantastic as I could pull on their years of experience which enabled me to develop my customer care and sales skills. I really, really enjoyed working for this business. As well as the initial in-depth training there was development training. I worked with great people and I earned good money - what else can you ask for? It was during this time that I made the decision that if I owned my own business this would be how I trained and rewarded people. It is what I am committed to doing at Burrows Motor Company 50 years later.
Why is it important for Burrows to recruit through apprenticeships?
The automotive sector is going through exponential change, whether alternative fuel engines, or the technologies included in new vehicles, or the technologies used by customers to research and purchase cars, or the way we sell vehicles. To keep up with this change, and to adapt to new ways of taking care of our customers we need young people to enter the business, help develop the business and be involved in it’s future prosperity. There is no doubt that young people have skills to complement our existing team members. We are also eager to welcome more women into the sector, as we need a better gender balanced workforce to represent our customer profile.
This is why I am passionate and excited about our Search for a Star Apprenticeship Recruitment Programme. It is a programme that reaches out to secondary school children to inform them about apprenticeships and careers at Burrows. In fact, a highlight was visiting my old school, Dinnington High School. I was proud to go back as an alumni. I am passionate about letting young people know what a great industry this is to work in.
Why are you personally passionate about helping young people?
Being 1 of 10 kids we were all brought up to look after one another. When I was young someone gave me a chance and encouraged me to work hard and be the best that I could be. I want to do this for other young people. By developing them, we can help them be in a good job, earn good money to treat themselves and look after their family.
Nothing is better than seeing young people do well in life, I feel so proud for them.