Alice Loukaides works at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Stevenage, where she has recently completed an Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Advice. With support and guidance from her colleagues, her confidence and skills have grown and she is now looking forward to a bright future within the legal advice sector. Here’s her story so far.
What led you to choose an apprenticeship after high school, rather than university?
Whilst studying for my A-Levels, I found that the subjects I enjoyed the most were health and social care, psychology and IT, however, I was keen to get into the world of work and I decided that an apprenticeship was the direction that I wanted to go in. An apprenticeship was always my first choice as I knew that I could gain experience, learn key skills and develop my career whilst doing so.
What did your role as an apprentice at the Citizens Advice Bureau entail?
My role in the Bureau consisted of a number of different elements. I started with some telephone training for the advice line, which allowed me to become more familiar with the role. After developing my advice work, I undertook more training to become a gateway assessor; this involved seeing clients face-to-face, rather than speaking on the telephone. Then, after my full training, I became a full advice generalist adviser, which meant I was able to carry out full advice appointments through the generalist service.
As well as working as an adviser, I undertook other tasks such as writing the annual report for our annual general meeting in 2014, and completed numerous training courses to develop my knowledge. I also completed some work with the ‘Energy Best Deal’ project, which assisted clients in saving money on their energy bills.
What does your current job entail?
My current job role has developed slightly from the apprenticeship role. Although I’m no longer advising through the gateway service, I’m still advising clients on a daily basis. My current workload includes working with our Stevenage Borough Housing team, which assists Stevenage Borough Council tenants with their issues. I’ve also been working with the research and campaigns team, looking at key issues that affect our clients, and campaigning for change.
What did you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?
For me, the element that I enjoyed most about the apprenticeship was the sense of satisfaction I got when I was able to help someone in a crisis and support them through a period when they needed help the most. A lot of our clients are just so grateful that someone has just taken the time to listen and provide them with the support and advice they need. It was very rewarding!
What was your personal highlight of the apprenticeship?
My personal highlight was being able to work with so many knowledgeable colleagues and volunteers at the Citizens Advice Bureau. They taught me a lot during my apprenticeship and supported me during my time as an adviser. I also have a very supportive management team which has assisted me throughout the whole process, which I really appreciated.
Have you got any advice for school leavers looking for a chosen career path?
My advice for any school leavers looking for a chosen career path is to consider a legal advice qualification! The role has not only provided me with knowledge, but it has also allowed me to gain real life experience within a working environment, and has taught me things that I may not have learnt at college or university. It’s given me financial capability, which I will take with me through life and pass onto others, including my friends and family.
Apprenticeships are available for school leavers who want to develop their skills and get onto the career ladder. The qualifications are recognised by employers and a legal advice qualification can help open up so many opportunities within the industry.
Daniel Marshall, CEO at Citizens Advice Bureau Stevenage, said: “During the last year, Alice has helped over 700 people singlehandedly. This represents nearly 10 per cent of our clients across the whole organisation; we have 80 volunteers and 30 staff, so this shows you how well she has done. Not only that, she has now secured a full time role in the organisation, which is a result of her hard work.”
On the topic of recruitment, Daniel said: “Finding good advisors can be tough, especially when working for a charity. Workloads are extremely busy and we have a very limited amount of resource to do it, so when looking for apprentices, we look for candidates who have a positive attitude, approach things the right way and are creative when finding solutions to problems.”
He continued: “There are a lot of young people in Stevenage with huge amounts of potential, and we were delighted to be able to open up such an opportunity in the town. We’re keen to create as many opportunities as we can, and with the funding from Hertfordshire County Council, we were delighted to be able to provide this apprenticeship.”