Apprentice Council

Our work is led by our amazing Council of current and recent apprentices. They bring a wealth of personal experience and knowledge to guide decisions about the Association’s strategy and focus.

Click on a member of the Council below to find out more about them.

Humphrey Francis-Jones

L6 Surveying Apprentice, Savills

Humphrey knew that he didn’t want to go to university and preferred to get straight into work. He has enjoyed a lot of responsibility early in his career and will already have four years’ in-house experience by the time he gains his MSc Building Surveying degree. However, he has noticed the difference in social opportunities compared with his friends at university and believes that the Association of Apprentices can help fill that gap in the apprenticeship offer. Outside of work you’ll find him carrying out some form of exercise, whether that be running, cycling, or even sailing.

Holly Gooding

L6 Digital Marketing, Colchester Teacher Training Consortium

Holly decided to choose the apprenticeship route over the traditional university route because she found that she learnt better when applying her learning to the workplace. Holly acquired a part-time job at the age of 16 and learnt quickly that she enjoyed working, which further convinced her to partake in an apprenticeship.  Feeling passionate about educating people on the alternative routes to university, Holly wishes to inspire others to undertake apprenticeships having known little about apprenticeships after completing college.

Outside of work, Holly really enjoys running and is a member of her local running club: Harwich Runners.  She also loves to travel and so looks forward to restrictions easing so that she can explore more areas of the world!

Simon Graham

L7 Executive MBA Apprentice, De Courcy Alexander

Simon brings experience that ranges from advocating for families at the Cambridge University Graduate Union to developing innovation projects in the automotive and energy sectors with companies like Air Products and Honda.  For him, apprenticeship is about being able to take a different view, enabling people to become the best that they can be, giving companies the skills needed at this time of technological and social change and bringing forward talent that is currently untapped.  It also gives an avenue for people like him to return to work after a career break, building up the confidence that can so easily be lost.

Bilaal Khan

L4 Project Management, Via East Midlands

Bilaal started medical school but concluded that Medicine wasn’t for him. Deciding to volunteer and work in the third sector, the skills he developed during this year at a food bank, a clothes bank, two non-profits, and a charity where he ran a branch, led to his successful application at Via, a highways and civil engineering company owned by Nottinghamshire County Council. Here, in the public and private sector, he upholds the values that drove his third sector experiences within his projects, whilst applying his analytical approach to problem-solving.

Bilaal is also a Mental Health First Aider and led the relaunch of Via’s mental health initiatives. His current main project is implementing drones and he has a specific remit for empowering colleagues across the company to initiate change for the better through a structured staff suggestion scheme. Speaking to parliamentarians during his 11th week as an apprentice, Bilaal identified challenges that aspiring apprentices face and aims to tackle this with AoA. Bilaal enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee in his free time having improved his throw during the pandemic.

Zara Khan

L4 Project Management Apprentice, Walsall Council

Zara left school at 18 and went on to do work experience at Walsall Council where she was offered the chance to stay on and do a L3 Business Admin apprenticeship. After completing that, she moved on to her current L4 Project Management apprenticeship. She is the first person in her family to do an apprenticeship, so she knows how it feels to choose a different path rather than go to university. She was elected Chair of her local youth group, the Youth of Walsall, and led an award-winning knife awareness campaign, ‘Real Knives, Real Lives’ and was also a Senior Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Champion for a charity called Street Teams. 

She is currently a Senior Trustee and Risk Committee Chair for the British Youth Council, Black Country Area Lead for the West Midlands Young Apprenticeship Ambassador Network and a Referral Order Panel Member for Walsall Council’s Youth Justice Team. When she’s not working or volunteering, she can be found tucked away in a corner reading a good book!

Jasmine King, Vice Chair

L6 Housing Policy and Practice Degree Apprentice, Flagship Group

Jasmine didn’t receive much information about apprenticeships when she was at school but decided it was the right path for her as it allowed her to gain hands-on experience in the workplace while gaining a degree. She is a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and inspiring others to undertake an apprenticeship. As a sub-regional chair for the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network, she has spoken about apprenticeships at a number of careers events and recorded multiple podcasts. Jasmine enjoys socialising with her friends and bottomless brunching at the weekends, as well as long dog walks with her cockapoo.

Bradley Longford

L6 Professional Practice in Management Apprentice, Henry Boot Construction

Bradley has really enjoyed his apprenticeship and he has found that his skills and knowledge have developed further than he could ever have imagined. He sees his future at Henry Boot Construction and would like to become a Business Development Manager. He is passionate about apprenticeships and has been involved in helping shape the Association of Apprentices since the very beginning. He wants people to see the value of apprenticeships and to encourage others to take this route to career success. 

During the weekend, Bradley can be found supporting his local football team Sheffield Wednesday and his friends’ Sunday league side, Stannington Rangers. Bradley also enjoys attending music festivals and gigs and has seen the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and Blossoms to name a few.

Elle Melrose

L3 Business Admin, Bulb Energy

Elle studied Business Administration Level 3 through Multiverse at Bulb Energy.  After starting work at 16 as a Child in Care, Elle has worked in Hospitality, HR, Management, and Sales over the last nine years. With this great level of experience, Elle has now secured a role as the Priority Service Lead at Bulb after finishing her apprenticeship in September 2020. 

Elle is passionate about encouraging disadvantaged young people into the world of work and recognising their self-worth regardless of their previous experiences. Elle’s mantra is ‘if you want to try something, go for it, we miss the opportunities we don’t take’. In her spare time, Elle spends as much time at the beach as she can with her fiancé, Rob, and puppy, Hendrix.

Sam Mountford

L6 Manufacturing Engineering, Rolls Royce PLC

Sam has always been passionate about engineering but identified that the traditional university route was not for him. In his school, information about apprenticeships was limited and so, he pursued his research into the paths he could take into his chosen career. Once he had found out more, he decided it was a logical choice that allowed him to gain practical experience whilst also studying towards a degree. Sam is a strong advocate for apprenticeships and would like to increase their profile so young people can see the value in them.

He is keen to further develop the apprenticeship experience and believes the Association is a key part of this. In his spare time, you will most likely find Sam walking George the Border Collie or working on classic cars, most recently a 1980s Land Rover Defender.

Emma Nolan

L6 Software Engineering Apprentice, Thales

When she finished college, Emma wanted to gain workplace experience immediately, so an apprenticeship suited her perfectly.  She enjoys the many opportunities the apprenticeship has given her and looks forward to what’s to come as she feels her apprenticeship could lead her into a number of routes in the future. 

She is a Greater Manchester Apprentice Ambassador and part of the YAAN. She is also a Digital Her role model for Manchester Digital, encouraging young women into digital careers. In her free time, Emma scrapbooks to wind down and plays a variety of games, sometimes with friends and family. It’s reported that her favourite is The Sims!

Hannah Payne

L3 Business Administration, WorldSkills UK

Hannah is now the Skills Development Co-ordinator after completing her Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship at WorldSkills UK. Hannah chose to complete an apprenticeship as she believed this was the best platform for her to expand her skills and kick start her career!

Joel Roach, Chair

L6 Chartered Management Degree Apprentice, Microsoft

Joel spent a year at university before deciding it wasn’t for him; gaining an apprenticeship place gave him an alternative path to getting a degree and was the best decision he’s ever made. He thinks the Association of Apprentices can offer the social element and connection to a wider community that is often missing from apprenticeships. He is also a member of IfATE’s apprentice panel, ensuring the apprentice experience is at the core of the Institute’s strategy, and has been responsible for holding induction sessions for new Microsoft apprentices over the last two years pushing to include sessions on culture, wellbeing, and inclusion for all new starters. 

He also sits on the board of Microsoft UK’s LGBTQI+ community, supporting events which amplify LGBTQI+ voices and engage the community and allies at Microsoft. Joel has gotten into baking during lockdown – he would be very grateful to any baking apprentices who can tell him why his banana bread won’t rise.

James Sewell

L4 Professional Accounting/Taxation Technician Apprentice, PwC

James began working whilst in sixth form and enjoyed mixing work and study so decided an apprenticeship would suit him well. He’s a member of PwC’s Reward & Employment team, supporting clients on a number of Employment Tax related matters. He has experience of supporting others to find apprenticeships and has a strong desire to help aspiring new professionals. He has also worked with both Future First and Tech UK. 

In his spare time, James loves working on his car and watching his favourite football team Southampton FC play.

Aiden Wakelam

L3 Senior Production Chef Apprentice, Mitchells & Butler

Aiden is doing his L3 having already completed a L2 Commis Chef apprenticeship. He loves cooking and therefore wants to become a chef. His apprenticeship has helped him to come out of his shell and his talents have been recognised as he has won a number of awards over the last few years – including the West Midlands Intermediate Apprentice of the Year in 2019 and School Leaver of the Year in 2020. 

He is continuing the remote learning sections of his apprenticeship as he hasn’t been able to gain as much kitchen experience during the Covid lockdowns. After hours, Aiden builds computers for himself and his friends – current tally: 5 and counting…

Polly Williams

L3 HR Support, Munich Re

Having ruled out university, Polly found little support to explore other options.  Fortunately, she’d seen her brother take the apprenticeship route with the Civil Service and as a result, was confident this was the path for her.   After A-levels, she took a year out, when she travelled and worked as a Google Digital Skills Coach.

She started her apprenticeship during the first lockdown and works for Munich Re, an insurance company, as a Talent Management and Development apprentice. She’s almost completed her apprenticeship and plans to move onto her CIPD Level 5 having enjoyed the combination of academic study and on- the-job learning.

Already a strong advocate for apprenticeships, Polly joined the Apprentice Council as she’s keen to take a more public role, encouraging others to see apprenticeships as a brilliant option leading to long term careers. Outside of work Polly loves walking her dogs, running, paddle boarding and skiing.

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