Case Studies

Estelle Smith

Published: 1st October 2020

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Year graduating from The Sheffield College

March 2021


Apprenticeship/qualification completed

Level 4 Business and Professional Administration Apprenticeship

NVQ Level 2 Business Administration

NVQ Level 3 Business Administration

NVQ Level 4 Business Administration

Level 4 Technical Certificate in Business Administration


Why did you choose to apply for an Apprenticeship with The Sheffield College?

I chose to start an Apprenticeship because I didn’t enjoy sitting exams whilst I was completing my GCSE’s and the thought of having to go through that pressure again for A Levels wasn’t appealing. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy staying on at school to do A Levels so I thought an Apprenticeship would be a better use of my time as I could learn new skills all whilst earning a wage. I decided to apply via The Sheffield College as it was really easy for me to access due to my location.


What are the most important skills you have learnt during your Apprenticeship?

In my current role at Gripple Ltd, I spend a large part of my day working with a variety of people. Throughout my Apprenticeship I have been able to develop my people skills to ensure I work well with all of my colleagues ensuring the best outcome for us all.

I think starting at such a large company at such a young age, it was quite daunting, as I was expected to get on with the job whilst also getting to know my colleagues, however, the Apprenticeship programme really does help give you all the skills needed meaning you are able to grow and develop within the business quicker.

Throughout my Apprenticeship I have continuously developed my customer service skills. Before I started my Apprenticeship, I didn’t have the knowledge or confidence to talk to customers on a daily basis but now I find it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.

I have also developed my organisational skills, as I realised it was important to keep on top of my workload as not only was I balancing my work responsibilities but also my Apprenticeship assignments.


Do you have any positive comments regarding the Apprenticeship team?

Lucy Sorby has been my mentor all the way through my Apprenticeship programme starting at my Level 3 NVQ and carrying on through to Level 4 NVQ. Lucy was unbelievably supportive to me and kept in regular contact to ensure I was ok, both with my Apprenticeship but also at work and personally. Lucy really helped me get my assignments submitted and also gave me the feedback I needed to make sure my work was the best it could be.

Lesley Keers is my current mentor for Level 4 Technical Certificate and again the support I have received has been really appreciated. Lesley has kept in contact with me throughout lockdown and is always available to contact if I am in need of any advice or help with my assignments.

I have had a really positive experience with my college contacts, and I know that both Lesley and Lucy are available whenever I may need them.


Were there any facilities you found particularly useful when doing your Apprenticeship and why?

I found that going to college once a month was useful whilst completing my Apprenticeship as it was a good opportunity to spend the full day concentrating on assignments. As like any other student at the college I had access to the learning resource centre meaning I could work at the college without the distractions of the office. 


What do you do now, where do you do it and what do you like most about it?

I am the Internal Sales Administrator at Gripple LTD for our European customers in the Agriculture market. I work full time at one of our four sites in Sheffield and my day to day role includes communicating with our customers, replying to any customer queries, entering sales orders to then despatch and invoice. I have regular contact with our freight forwarders to ensure all our goods are collected on time and are delivered to our customers with no problems. Part of my role is to plan our orders in with our production planners and make sure both our production team and our customers are happy with when the orders are due to be despatched.

I really enjoy my job and the thing I like most about it is the relationships that I have developed with my colleagues and work contacts.


What are your biggest achievements related to your Apprenticeship at The Sheffield College?

One of my biggest achievements relating to my Apprenticeship at The Sheffield College is that I was able to complete my full Level 3 NVQ In 6 months, which is half the time provided. This was noticed by my colleagues at Gripple and I was then nominated for our internal Glide award for learning which I won!

Another achievement relating to my Apprenticeship is all the skills and knowledge I have developed which has really helped further my career. I wouldn’t have been able to get to my current role without the knowledge I have gained through my Apprenticeship. Thanks to my hard work I have now been shortlisted for MAKEUK’s ‘Apprentice of the year: Final Year’.


How did your time with The Sheffield College help you to get the career that you have now?

My time at The Sheffield College helped me understand how I want to progress and gave me a much bigger understanding as to what is involved and how hard I would have to work to achieve my goals. The knowledge I have gained has helped me put this into practice at work and has given me the opportunity to progress to where I am now.


What advice do you have for people looking to apply for an Apprenticeship?

I would really recommend applying for an Apprenticeship if the thought of A-Levels and University isn’t for you. I have been working for the last four years and I am now doing to the same job as people who have been working for 20 years. The experience you gain from working on the job is so valuable and it does give you a really good opportunity to get your career started.

Another thing I would recommend is researching the company you are going to apply to for your Apprenticeship and ensure they are supportive of Apprentices. I am extremely lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do my Apprenticeship with Gripple Ltd as they really do believe that Apprentices are the future and the support and training I am given is amazing. I really don’t think I would have progressed as well as I have if I didn’t have the support from my employer.



About the Employer

Gripple was established in 1989 as an ingenious means of joining agricultural wire fencing together. Today, it’s a globally recognised manufacturer, delivering innovative, value-added solutions to construction and agricultural markets. To find out more please visit

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