Just three years ago Natalie Tyler was stuck for ideas for a suitable career. It was the height of the recession. Jobs were scarce. Then aged 21, she had been working as a hairdresser but did not enjoy it and was applying for lots of jobs across all fields but was finding it tougher than she’d imagined.
Her fortunes changed when she spotted an advert for a customer services apprenticeship with the Watford Gap-based Fortec Distribution Network. Although Natalie had not previously considered a career in transport she realised the apprenticeship could potentially lead to a wealth of opportunities and joined Fortec in January 2012.
Formed in 1997, Fortec Distribution Network has more recently taken significant steps to entice young people into the transport industry.
With the aim of maintaining the necessary skill sets to ensure the long-term future of Fortec, the company offers a number of opportunities for young people from apprenticeships to internships.
Through Fortec’s partnership with Stephenson College in Coalville, Natalie started an NVQ Level 2, looking at five modules including impression and image, delivery, handling problems and development and improvement.
Specifically her training included dealing with customers, written communications with customers, customer satisfaction surveys and meeting deadlines. Over the course of 18 months she underwent regular on-the-job assessments, studying and a written assessment.
Having achieved Level 2 about a year ago Natalie is now almost half way into a two-year Level 3 course, which she admits is a lot harder and more in-depth, but in equal measures is also more challenging and enjoyable. The qualification requires a deeper understanding from candidates of the companies they work for and a demonstration of accountability in their roles.
Successful completion of Level 3 will allow Natalie to climb the career ladder, taking up a more senior position in time.
The NVQs ensure her theory-based studies and her practical experience on the job complement each other, enhancing her personal contribution to the business.
Natalie said: “I have been really lucky. My job is varied and enjoyable and the course itself brings another dimension and is equally enjoyable.
“Transport is an industry which I believe regularly gets overlooked but if I could talk to the 16-year-old me, who hadn’t a clue what she wanted to do with her life, or the 21-year-old me, who was about to embark upon the apprenticeship but wasn’t completely sure it was the right step to take, I would tell myself to go for it.
“It might not on the outside appear the most glamorous choice but every day has been different, therefore every day has been a real learning curve.”
Adrian Bradley, General Manager of Operations said Natalie was an invaluable asset to the Fortec team. “Natalie is one of a number of young people we have brought into Fortec in what has proven to be an extremely worthwhile step.
“We have two apprentices in Network Support and Sales, with a third in Operations. There are a further five studying NVQs through us and we have just embarked upon a new programme hosting a graduate trainee.
When Natalie first arrived she started from fresh with no previous experience in the industry so brought with her a different perspective and fresh ideas which perhaps those of us who have been in the industry longer sometimes overlook. It’s been very beneficial to Fortec.”