National Apprenticeship Week | Meet out first ever Payroll Apprentice - Thomas Parker

This week we’re celebrating National Apprenticeship Week. Here at Lookers we employ 150 apprentices each year, one of which is Apprentice Payroll Administrator, Tom Parker.

Tom joined us in August 2018, making history as the first ever Payroll Apprentice at Lookers. Based in the Payroll Department, Tom’s time is split between Manchester Head Office and a City Centre Training College.

The 12 month apprenticeship programme involves classroom tuition alongside workplace visits from his tutors. He’s supported by the team in the Payroll department, who work collectively to teach him about the processes, ensuring that he’s learning the key tasks to help him succeed in his apprenticeship.

He’s certainly impressed the team, with Anne Cox, Group Payroll Manager, telling us:

“Tom has settled into the team and his role extremely well. We are extremely impressed by his desire to learn new things. He takes time out during the week to complete his apprentice studies, he attends the Training College on a regular basis, and the feedback from his tutors is always a positive and encouraging one.”

We met up with Tom to find out more about his apprenticeship.

What drew you to Lookers?

I’ve worked here previously in a temporary function so I already know how great a place Lookers is to work.  Taking on this apprenticeship is a great opportunity to develop as a Payroll Administrator in a great company so I couldn’t turn down the chance.

Why did you decide to pursue an apprenticeship rather than a different route into work?

An apprenticeship programme is a great way to expand my knowledge.  I knew I wanted an office-based role and I’m always looking for ways to grow and develop. The apprenticeship is a great way to do both. Plus, it might bag me a discounted car!

What’s it like to work in the payroll department?

It’s a great place to work and I’m always learning something new all the time.

Standard tasks include reporting attendance, sickness, starters, leavers, queries, emails and assisting with any operational queries. I feel well supported in the team and I always ask if I need help as a way to expand my knowledge. Better to ask first than muddle through and get it wrong, particularly when I’m dealing with people’s pay!

What do you get up to outside of work?

I love all kinds of sport; rugby, football, squash, pool. I’m a Manchester United fan and always try to watch them play when I can!

How does your apprenticeship work?

It’s a mixture of workplace and college learning. I go to college for two days every six weeks and I’m in a class with about 15 other people. Our tutors visit us on the job too.

We complete a lot of our learning online which is great as it allows me to interact with other class members. They’re all doing different kinds of roles such as working in the police, the city council and a landscaping company.

What are the key things you’ve learned so far?

Learning how the payroll department works has been a steep learning curve. There are lots of timed deadlines each month so it’s important to be organised. That applies to my college work too so I set aside one afternoon per week to complete this.

What are the next steps following completion of your apprenticeship?

I’d really like to stay at Lookers and hopefully progress to a Payroll Administrator position. I’m really enjoying the role and work with a great team of people.

Where do you want to be in next 5-10 years?

I like to set myself short term goals as I operate in the here and now with my thoughts. My immediate goal is to pass the apprenticeship programme as best as I can. I’d like to progress in payroll, expanding my knowledge, continuing to learn about new, different areas of the company. I’m also looking forward to being assigned a collection of dealerships to look after.

What’s it like being an apprentice at Lookers?

It’s a comfortable place to work, and somewhere that’s good to learn and expand skills. I get to meet lots of new people, with some great training. I’ve always got people who are supportive of my learning that I can go to for help.

I was a little nervous when I started my apprenticeship, as I’ve never worked in Payroll before. However the people I work with are great and have helped me settle in. It’s a really fun environment where I’m learning something new all the time.

For more information on careers at Lookers, including apprenticeship opportunities,take a look at our careers site.

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