A FORMER apprentice with a rapidly growing Midlands company has urged others to take a similar path after landing another promotion. Tom Austin, who grew up in Nuneaton and now lives in Coventry, joined UK Flooring Direct as a 17-year-old in 2015 when the company was based on Bayton Road Industrial Estate and was on the verge of significant growth.
Tom, who attended Nuneaton Academy School, joined the online flooring retailer, which has since moved to Hinckley and opened a further warehouse and office in Coventry, as an IT and marketing apprentice. He has worked his way up the company ladder and started a role as a customer journey executive on Monday 1 February.
And, with National Apprenticeship Week set to start on Monday 8 February, Tom has encouraged others to look at the apprenticeship route as a way of starting a career.
He said: ‘I was at college studying IT and it wasn’t really for me. I was looking at other options when a contact at UK Flooring Direct said they were looking at taking on an apprentice. ‘I came for an interview, got the job and, with it, a great opportunity.’
Tom worked for three months in the IT side of the business and for three months in the marketing side, while completing assignments with South Leicestershire College, which has since joined with North Warwickshire College, that led to Level 2 and Level 3 NVQ qualifications.
It took around a year-and-a-half to complete the apprenticeship before he took on the role of marketing assistant. UK Flooring Direct has continued to support him with education including a web development course and a Level 4 CIM Marketing qualification.
Tom moved to a customer experience executive role before landing his latest position with the company.
He said: ‘By doing an apprenticeship, I got hands-on experience of the business straightaway, but I was also learning the theory with college, so I was getting the best of both worlds.
‘For some people, going to college and university is the right path but for me, the apprenticeship route was perfect for what I wanted to do, and I’d urge others to look at the opportunities available to them through an apprenticeship.
‘I was really lucky to join UK Flooring Direct when I did. The company was just starting to grow in a big way and we’ve now moved to a bigger headquarters in Hinckley and opened Coventry too. The team is much, much bigger now and these are really exciting times.
‘The company has continued to support me and that has helped me develop, ready to take on this new role.’
Faye Summers, head of HR and people development at UK Flooring Direct, said: ‘Tom is a great example of how an apprenticeship can bring benefits to both an individual and to a business.
‘He’s now in his sixth year with UK Flooring Direct and continues to develop with us and it all stems from him getting a feel for what we do and our culture as a business when he was an apprentice.’