Jahanara Begum started her Business Administration Apprenticeship with Lawsons Insurance Brokers in Acocks Green, Birmingham, at the turn of the year.

She decided to apply for Business Administration Apprenticeships in her local area as she wanted to train while working.

“I have always wanted to work in business administration but in the financial services sector," she said.

"When I saw Lawsons on the National Apprenticeship Service website I applied. It was local to where I lived and it would get me into the sector that I want to pursue a career in.”

Lynne Donnelly, associate director of Lawsons Insurance wanted to give a local young person the opportunity to join the organisation, handling all the associated business administration that a busy insurance company generates.

Lynne said: “We wanted a local young person to become our apprentice. Qualifications are secondary to me; far more important to our customer-focused business is personality.

"We needed someone approachable, friendly and outgoing. Customers have got to like who they’re talking to. Even though we required a business administration apprentice, the long-term view upon successful completion of the apprenticeship was to make the role more customer facing.”

Lynne wanted someone with confidence and enthusiasm that enjoyed dealing with people.

She said: “City College sent three people for me to interview. They’d advertised the position and received 24 applications. They did a great job of carrying out initial screenings for us. This meant that only those who met our criteria were sent for me to interview.”

Jahanara was one of the three people shortlisted by the college.

“She stood out,” says Lynne “What a breath of fresh air. She arrived early, very smartly dressed and acted in a friendly yet professional way throughout the interview. I did not hesitate in offering her the position.”

Jahanara was elated. She said: “I have learnt so many new things since I have been at Lawsons.

“My IT skills are much improved and I am more confident and efficient doing Business Administration. I answer the telephone now and feel very confident in doing so. This used to make me very nervous. ”

Eight weeks later, both Lynne and the rest of the team at Lawsons are pleased with how Jahanara is progressing. Lynne said: “She has fitted in really well with everyone and is a real asset to the team.

She is a pleasure to be around... she makes us all smile!”

Jahanara said: “Elaine and Candice, the two account handlers, are so helpful and friendly. I can approach them with any query knowing they will give me guidance.

Lynne is also really approachable and always has the time for me when I need her help. Everyone is so friendly, it was my birthday last month, and we had a little celebration in the office with lots of birthday cake!”

Lynne said: “I am pleased with Jahanara’s progress and we are definitely going to take another apprentice on as the business grows. It has definitely worked for us!”

Elaine Frankiln, account handler and mentor to Jahanara said: “Jahanara has fitted in really well with the team and contributes so much. We all look forward to following her progress and watching her grow as an individual.”