Single mum’s apprenticeship success helped by PTP

Ptp Stephanie Hodgkiss

A customer service worker has come through a gruelling 18 months to achieve success in her apprenticeship, supported by Midlands training experts Performance Through People (PTP).

Single mum Steph Hodgkiss (Pictured) combined home-schooling her son and her own online apprenticeship training with her job working for food retail, wholesale and distribution group AF Blakemore & Son at the height of the Covid pandemic.

She had barely started the course when she suffered a double bereavement – the loss of both paternal grandparents.

“My Nan had already been ill and died just 12 days after my Grandad died from Covid,” Steph recalled. “I needed to be there for my parents, but the support I received throughout that awful time from my PTP tutor Marie Bull was amazing.”

PTP is part of the BCTG Group, the Black Country-based training organisation which supports almost 10,000 young people and adults each year.

Steph said: “The fact that I was able to carry on with my apprenticeship despite all the adversity made me realise that I’m mentally stronger and a lot more resilient than I thought.

“I am now more confident when trying anything new, something I would have shied away from before this apprenticeship.”

Steph is from Bloxwich in Walsall, and she completed her Customer Service Specialist Level 3 apprenticeship in 18 months, achieving a distinction in her final assessment.

Steph added: “I applied for the apprenticeship after seeing fellow colleagues completing courses and knew this was something I’d be interested in doing, despite not completing any further qualifications since leaving university seven years before.

“My apprenticeship began just as Covid hit, so I was concerned when I was unable to have face-to-face meetings to go through anything I needed further guidance with.

“However the amount of guidance throughout was most definitely the driving factor in helping me achieve my end goal, and I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up with the workload whilst working full time and being a single mum, but the support given the whole way through spurred me on.

“I have to thank my tutor, Marie, for all of her hard work, putting up with my endless questions and pushing me to achieve my best.”

Marie Bull, learning and development tutor at PTP, said: “Steph signed up just as Covid started but she showed real commitment throughout the course, even in the face of her double bereavement.

“Level 3 is very demanding, with apprentices working in a lot more depth, but she did amazingly well, and you could see her self-confidence improving as time went along. She is now working on a special project for Blakemore and I’m encouraging her to take the next step with her training for her career. I’m very proud of her.”