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Holly Newman: From hating sixth-form to excelling in a finance role after studying an apprenticeship with Zenith Training

Training Case Study

Two years ago to the day Holly started her business administration apprenticeship at Zenith People in the finance and payroll department. Fast forward to today, Holly has completed her apprenticeship and is hoping to further develop her career in finance.


Similarly to many school leavers, back in 2019, when Holly left school, she had no idea which pathway she wanted to take. There was no particular subject or career she was interested in or wanted to focus on; the only post-secondary education advice she received was an invitation to a sixth-form open day.

Holly followed the guidance her school gave her and went onto the sixth form to study Psychology, Sport and Law; this traditional route didn’t suit her. She had no genuine interest in what she was doing and was fed up with the same classroom setting she had been in for years.

Even though she didn’t know much about apprenticeships, Holly took a chance on a different route and applied for a business admin apprenticeship at Zenith People after seeing the job posted on social media. The apprenticeship focused on finance and payroll, which Holly had never done before; she did know, however, that she enjoyed maths in school and knew this role wouldn’t be something she would tire of.

After the simple process of applying and submitting her CV for the role, Holly attended a few interviews and completed functional skills tests in both Maths and English as part of the process. A week later, she got a phone call with the news that she got the job and would now be an apprentice.


Starting her apprenticeship just a month before the announcement of the pandemic in March of 2020, Holly’s apprenticeship journey was slightly different to many as she was forced to work from home for five months as a result of COVID-19. Although not an ideal situation, Holly and her employer, Zenith People, used this slight roadblock as an opportunity for Holly to complete as much of her apprenticeship work as she could during the lockdown. By returning to the office, she only had practical work to complete for her overall apprenticeship.

As a result of the pandemic, it did take Holly slightly longer than the average 18 months to complete her apprenticeship; this was no fault of Hollys, but rather a case of arranging dates and paperwork for her practical tasks. Holly completing an apprenticeship during the pandemic reflects how adaptable apprenticeships can be for a learner; apprenticeships also create a great work/life balance compared to other traditional routes. You can read more benefits of apprenticeships in our recent blog: Apprenticeship vs Traditional Education.

Before starting the apprenticeship, Holly didn’t know what to expect or what she would gain the skills she did gain. What she learned overall was second to none; she stated, ‘before I started, I had no idea about finance or business admin, and now I know everything I need to know.’ Holly also gained and further developed her IT skills as her role required her to be efficient in Microsoft Excel and deal with data reports from SAGE.

Throughout her apprenticeship, Holly also gained knowledge about the recruitment industry, as this is the industry she works within. In addition, she also gained an understanding of how an office is run and its various roles. She gets along with everyone in her workplace and has built personal and working relationships throughout her time at Zenith People as an apprentice.


Unlike traditional educational routes, 85% of apprentices stay in employment after completing an apprenticeship. This also rings true for Holly, as she has now finished her apprenticeship and hopes to progress further within her career. Her apprenticeship has allowed her to build a foundation of knowledge in her study area. Holly is now at a point where she wishes to develop her skills further now that she knows her pathway in finance is more defined.

University was never an option Holly explored; even in sixth form, it wasn’t something she wanted to do. At this moment in time, Holly is deliberating whether or not to do a further apprenticeship in Accountancy or Payroll; Holly’s apprenticeship has helped her to choose her career path in finance. She stated that if she didn’t do this apprenticeship, she would not have any idea that she enjoyed finance and the industry she works in.

Holly is indubitably not regretful about her decision to do an apprenticeship. She expressed that she always ‘liked the idea of learning at the same time as making money; I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that.’ Her apprenticeship has helped pave the way for a more direct career plan.

If you find yourself in a similar position to what Holly was in two years ago, an apprenticeship is a great option to consider. Take a look at our range of apprenticeships.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Have a browse though the huge list of apprenticeships on the GOV website Find an apprenticeship – GOV.UK (



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