Destination, Silsden

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) the team at independent agency Destination will be championing their new apprentice, Nicole Etherington, across the agency’s social media platforms.

It’s an apt way to introduce 18-year old Etherington to clients, as since starting in December she has already had an impact on the Yorkshire-based agency’s online presence.

Etherington impressed Destination’s team after being tasked with creating a poster and images for the agency’s holiday show in February, which was used on Twitter, Facebook, e-shots and leaflets.

Director Shevaun Joy explains: “She’s very creative at making posters on Microsoft Publisher. She’s also shown us several things we didn’t know how to do on social media.”

Initially she created window offers and did filing, progressing quickly to taking enquiries and shadowing the team. Joy sets regular targets, and hopes Etherington will be making bookings later this month.

Having completed a 13-week introductory period, Etherington has now been taken on for 12 months. “This isn’t just a stop-gap for a year, we hope she will stay with us permanently,” Joy adds.

Training is a key part of an apprenticeship, and Etherington spends six hours a week on e-learning and has regular visits from a tutor, which will result in a Customer Service NVQ Level 2.

Joy opted for an apprentice as a cost-effective solution as the agency’s team became busier. Apprentices are paid at least the minimum wage, and as a small business Destination was eligible for a £1,500 government grant. “That’s a real help,” Joy adds.

The agency used Key Training – the National Apprenticeship Provider recommended by the Advantage Travel Partnership – to organise recruitment and draw up a contract.

Prior to joining Destination, Etherington had completed a Travel and Tourism NVQ Level 2, but Joy explains: “We weren’t looking for someone with straight A grades, but someone with the right personality who was outgoing and not afraid to talk to clients, and who showed initiative. Apprentices are good value for employers, and have skills we can utilise.”