The value of learning on the job
When James Purkis completed his studies at the University of Essex, he was undecided as to what to do next. He had specialist knowledge in modern history and politics, the subject of his Bachelor of Arts degree, and had also developed his communication skills and ability to work in a team, through serving as a student ambassador for the university.
He faced the Catch-22 situation familiar to many graduates: he needed skills and experience to compete for a job, but he needed a job to acquire them.
James found the solution in the Crawford apprenticeship scheme, which he describes as “a perfect way to broaden your skills and experience while also giving back to the company”.
The 23-year-old joined up in April this year and is an apprentice adjuster assistant in Crawford’s Major & Complex Loss (MCL) team, working out of the Billericay office.
“For me, the most challenging aspect was returning to an environment where I would be working closely with others,” James recalls. “Due to the pandemic, I lost a fair bit of the personal confidence I had built up at university. This quickly changed when I was welcomed with open arms at the Billericay office.”
Learning on the job depends on support and at Crawford he says he has never had any difficulty in being able to secure advice or assistance from colleagues on matters such as loss adjusting, reports or the company’s technology.
“I always feel comfortable asking a question and have never felt that I was on my own,” James says. “My line manager Claire Johnson has been amazing as an instructor and whenever I need help, she is always there to offer a hand.”
Crawford has designed its apprenticeships, part of its talent development strategy, with a series of structured learning pathways, featuring milestone reviews with sector specialists and opportunities to work towards professional qualifications.
“Crawford provides you with all the tools you could ever need for the job role, and they also help you attain the CILA [Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters] certification, which can boost your CV,” James says.
The practical experience has been a revelation for James, particularly in terms of the value of the service Crawford provides and in understanding customers’ needs. “My first site visit was a great eye-opener into the work we do and the fragility of properties, which puts into perspective the importance of insurance,” James says.
Of all the experiences during his apprenticeship, he describes visiting other offices and meeting a variety of Crawford personnel, as well as other apprentices, as the most valuable for him.
“During these trips, we have met Andrew Bart, CEO of International Operations, and Lisa Bartlett, president of UK & Ireland, and had the opportunity to speak to them about our apprenticeships, and to work on our projects,” he says.
James has joined the firm’s new sustainability group, which will be tasked with finding ways to reduce Crawford’s impact on the environment. He also has ambitions to join the Major & Complex Loss (MCL) Fraud team, a role that is suited to his interest in investigation and data analysis.
Based on his experience, James would recommend the Crawford apprenticeship to those fresh out of college or university. He describes the scheme as “an excellent way to learn on the job and get paid to do so”. He adds: “You are afforded the opportunity to build up your skills portfolio, while having a good impact on the company.”