College director's apprentice job switch

A Gateshead College director stepped into an apprentice’s shoes to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (w/c 4 March 2019).

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, dropped in to Go North East’s head office to learn the ropes from customer service apprentices Zoe Gibbons and Sarah Cooper.

Zoe and Sarah were the first trainees to embark on the region’s biggest bus operator’s customer services apprenticeship which is run in partnership with Gateshead College.  The apprentices are part of a team that is responsible for providing customers with direct open and honest communication 363 days-a-year, seven-days-a-week via phone, live web chat and social media.

Ivan took over the phone lines, taking calls from Go North East customers, all the while being supported by Sarah. The switch took place during National Apprenticeship Week where Ivan took an afternoon away from managing the college’s business development team to go back to the floor and learn more about the role of an apprentice.

He said: “It’s always a huge pleasure to meet the young people that are learning through the college and to see how we are helping to shape their future careers and give them the employment edge.

“Stepping into the customer service role was a great challenge but I enjoyed every minute. The best part of the day was learning from our apprentices who were so knowledgable and really confident as they took on a coaching role to train me on what I should be saying and doing.”

Zoe and Sarah are not new to supporting others, as they are now well into their apprenticeship and are helping to train new apprentice recruits.

Sarah said: “Ivan did a great job on the phones. He’s obviously a natural when it comes to customer service. I think he would be a great addition to the team if he ever wants a change of career.”