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Connor Ratcliffe

Self-confessed talker Connor Ratcliffe often found himself in trouble at school and in previous jobs for his love of chatting. With his heart set on joining the Army, the former Stoke Damerel pupil said he regretted putting his eggs in one basket and not preparing for an alternative career by taking school more seriously. However, since taking up an Apprenticeship, Connor has found the career for him and he has never taken his studies more seriously. 

Connor, 25, said: “I didn’t work particularly hard at school as I was adamant that I would spend my working life in the Forces; but it turned out that the Army just wasn’t for me and I left after completing my minimum service. I never envisioned anything other than the Army, and it was hard to start over. 

“I did a few odd jobs here and there, mostly in construction; I completed an Access course and looked into going to university, but I just couldn’t find the right path for me that also promised good career prospects. Most of my previous jobs had involved working irregular hours, often until quite late in the evening, and when my daughter was born I knew I wanted something with a better routine, one which meant I would be home to help with bedtime.

“I visited City College Plymouth and it was suggested that I looked into Apprenticeship opportunities, and the Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business & Administration seemed to offer everything I was looking for.”

Connor was offered an Apprenticeship with The Barden Corporation, where he found a position that was perfect for his love of talking and building working relationships. 

“You see adverts for Apprenticeships on the TV and, whilst they can be a little cheesy, they are 100% true,” Connor added. “The satisfaction you get from gaining a variety of skills and putting them to use right away is really rewarding; and the pay has been really good, too, meaning I can still support my family whilst continuing with education. 

“The support I’ve received from both Barden and the College has been invaluable. My assessor from the College would go out of his way to find suitable modules that would benefit me the most. The off-the-job training has been so well-structured that I have found it easy to work through, and my assessor has worked really hard to find me additional modules that support my development. 

“I’m now working as a key account co-ordinator and I think sales is the perfect career for me – you get to talk a lot! It has been really helpful to be given the opportunity to understand the company as a whole and to be able to build relationships with people throughout the organisation.”

So impressed with Connor’s progress, Barden entered him into the Plymouth Manufacturers’ Group Apprentice of the Year awards, and he was highly commended for the Rising Star Award. 

When asked whether he would recommend an Apprenticeship to others looking to start or change careers, Connor said he believed an Apprenticeship is perfect for those who want a well-structured route into a long-term career. 

Connor said: “I have been very fortunate that Barden is a very supportive and forward-thinking company. I want to continue my education and add to my qualifications as I feel it is great for my own development, and the managers at Barden are very encouraging. I would recommend an Apprenticeship to anyone, but particularly those who feel the traditional school-university route might not be right for them.”