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Job swap for Paragon Skills CEO and their Data Administrator Apprentice during National Apprenticeship week 2017

09 March 2017

The 6th to 10th of March 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of National Apprenticeship Week. Co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service, the campaign celebrates the positive impact Apprenticeships and Traineeships have on individuals, businesses, and the economy of the UK.

To mark the occasion, leading Apprenticeship provider, Paragon Skills’ CEO, Mark Botha and Chief Operating Officer Ian Bamford, went back to the floor and swapped their job with 20-year-old Data Administrator Apprentice Toni Preacher. They spent half a day shadowing each other’s roles during their ‘day in the life’ experience. We asked them a few questions about how they got on…

What Toni had to say about her experience:

Name, age, job title and how long have you been with Paragon Skills? Toni Preacher, 20, Data Administrator Apprentice. I have been with Paragon Skills for 5 months working towards my Level 2 in Business Administration.

What did you learn? What a day! So much information to take in but so interesting! In the sessions with both Mark and Ian, I learnt a completely new side of the business. The aspects of forecasting, KPI’S, The Levy, the CEO’s steps to success and much more.

What did you find most valuable about your morning? What I found very valuable about my morning was discovering a new side of the business and what the CEO (and COO) do and the responsibility they have to work with.

What was the highlight of the morning? The highlight of my morning was understanding and learning the forecasting, with the implications and variables that can impact on the forecasting, such as the number of Learner Development Coaches and ensuring a high quality (and number of learners) are enrolled each month.

Was there anything that surprised you or wasn’t expecting? The thing that surprised me most, is the genuine ambition and effort that Mark has for Paragon Skills to be a complete success. The work load and responsibility that he has to endure is pretty amazing!

What will you change as a result of the experience? Being more open minded about the pressure and the amount of work and responsibility that both Mark and Ian go through to ensure that we hit the high standards.

What three words would you use to describe your overall experience? Engaging, Interesting and Energetic!


What Mark and Ian had to say about their experience:

Name, age, job title and how long have you been with Paragon Skills? Mark Botha, 40, Chief Executive. I have been with Paragon Skills for two years. Ian Bamford, 46, Chief Operation Officer. I have been with Paragon Skills for nearly two years now.

What did you learn? MARK: I saw first-hand how our data driven administration Apprentices’ have the ability to multitask with high levels of attention to detail, are very quick learners on the job and that they add real and meaningful value to our overall team productivity. IAN: Overall I found it a really useful experience for Toni to understand the daily challenges we face on a day to day basis. Many of our team have remote roles and I think Toni was surprised to understand the amount of meetings and travel we all do!

What did you find most valuable about your morning? MARK: The uninterrupted time with Toni, our administration Apprentice, was both enlightening and extremely motivating. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how work based learning comes to life for the benefit of our business and how this excellent theoretical and practical experience makes a difference to personal confidence, job experience and practical application of knowledge.

What was the highlight of the morning? MARK: Seeing how much Toni enjoyed her role of being an Apprentice for Paragon Skills and how much progress had been made in just 4-5months. Also hearing Toni say that even some our more experienced and well qualified staff could all benefit from the support and knowledge her Learning and Development Coach gave her, alongside the broad content offered within the coursework, made me realise how valuable the hands-on learning and support is to our Apprentices. IAN: Toni is really intelligent and in the first few months of her role already has a fantastic understanding of our business. My highlight of the day was seeing exactly how much she understands and her confidence in asking me intelligent questions.

Was there anything that surprised you or wasn't expecting? MARK: I was inspired by how much Toni had already mastered within the data and compliance part of her role. Also, how well she had grasped what is a key component within the learner journey and an important responsibility at Paragon Skills.

What will you change as a result of the experience? MARK: Aim to do this more often with other Apprentices. IAN: As a result of this experience I would definitely like to hire more Apprentices of the same high calibre like Toni throughout the business. I also think that the wider business may need a better understanding of what the exec team actually do and I plan to improve these communications.

What three words would you use to describe your overall experience? MARK: Enlightening, Motivating and Inspiring. IAN: Exciting, Energising, Informative.


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About Paragon Skills

  • Established in 1998, Paragon Skills is the sixth largest training provider in England, with over 4,000 learners currently engaged in learning programmes.
  • They are a national provider of work-based training and have positioned themselves as the SME local private training provider of choice.
  • Offering intermediate and advanced apprenticeships and the additional ability to offer bespoke training, which is relevant to individual companies.
  • All training programmes are delivered by qualified and experienced industry professionals, with programmes that are role-relevant and industry endorsed.


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