Lewes firm thrives after taking on apprentices

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Abigail’s Drapery, in Lewes, is thriving after taking on apprentices through Sussex Downs College.

Local businesswoman Abigail Petit has tailored her business to suit her needs by taking on two apprentices from Sussex Downs College and bestowing on them the specialist knowledge necessary for high street success.

Abigail’s first apprentice, Leona Garvey, 23, joined the business as a Customer Service Level 2 apprentice.

Since completing her qualifications, Leona has been promoted to shop manager at Abigail’s Drapery and has also transformed the way Abigail uses her website and promotes the courses they run on a monthly basis.

Leona said: “The apprenticeship scheme has changed my life and showed me how a career can be formed.”

Abigail is thrilled with the scheme. She said: “Taking on an apprentice has allowed me to focus on teaching sewing, which is what I am truly skilled at. The business has flourished due to this and I cannot wait to see what the next year brings as my second apprentice becomes established in the business.”

The success of the first apprentice propelled Abigail to take on a second.

Gemma Eastwood, 19, joined Abigail’s Drapery as a Level 2 Business Administrator in November 2015.

She said: “Becoming an apprentice was a great choice for me. Being able to earn while you are still learning was a huge incentive and my confidence has grown as I have learned the skills of professionalism in the work place.”

Both Leona and Gemma have studied their apprenticeships through Sussex Downs College, and have rediscovered the excitement of learning.

Gemma said: “My assessor from SDC has been hugely helpful and supportive. I have learned how to direct my own learning and can clearly see how the hard work I put in has an impact on my performance at work.”

For Abigail, the friendly and enthusiastic Business Development Team at Sussex Downs College have provided her and her apprentices with support every step of the way,

She added: “The support that Leona and Gemma receive is excellent. The course work is demanding but so detailed and thorough, even I have learned loads.

“Being able to offer this opportunity has been a wonderful experience, I feel so privileged to have watched Leona and Gemma discover their potential and see how their development has helped my business to grow.”

Sussex Downs College would be delighted to hear from any businesses that would like to engage with the College and local business community through apprenticeships.

Contact Rose Miller on 030 300 39474 or email rosemary.miller@sussexdowns.ac.uk to arrange a visit from an account manager to discuss particular training needs.

To discover more about Abigail’s Drapery, visit http://abigailsdrapery.co.uk.

Sussex Downs College serves 13,000 students from more than 60 schools in the area and offers 400 qualifications. The college is proud to work with local employers to support their training needs and itself employs 900 staff.

Mike Hopkins joined as Principal in September 2015, having been the Principal/CEO of two colleges; Chair of the Principals’ Professional Council; Chair of AoC 14-19 Group and a senior civil servant for six years.

Visit www.sussexdowns.ac.uk for more information.

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