Portadown apprentice helps Amazon celebrate 1,000 new apprenticeship opportunities for 2024

  • An apprentice from Ardboe working at Amazon’s delivery station in Portadown is encouraging others to start an apprenticeship and boost their careers as Amazon announces the expansion of its apprenticeship programme with the addition of 1,000 new positions across the UK in 2024. 

    Amazon offers one of the UK’s top private sector apprenticeship schemes according to the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers[1], including entry-level placements and more than 230 degree-level apprenticeships in programmes including accounting and data analysts. 

    Recruitment has now started for more than 30 different schemes, from sustainability to engineering, project management to product buying, and warehouse team leaders to health and safety technicians.

    This year, Amazon is also launching new programmes including the digital product manager apprenticeship and the commercial procurement and supply apprenticeship. The range of different apprenticeship schemes reflect both Amazon’s diverse workforce and the communities it serves every day across the UK.

    As well as offering hundreds of new roles to external candidates, more than half of the new apprenticeships will be offered to existing employees who will have the opportunity to retrain and gain new skills for an exciting new career path. In 2023, two thirds (67%) of new apprentices at Amazon were aged 25 and over, an increase of 10% year on year, which demonstrates the support apprenticeships provide in helping people pursue new careers.

    Sean Kelly from Ardboe is a shift manager at the Amazon delivery station in Portadown. Sean is currently studying for a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) through the Amazon Apprenticeship Programme, having just completed a Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship with the company. 

    Talking about his career before joining Amazon, Sean says: “Usually people from Northern Ireland go west when they emigrate, but I was one of the strange ones who went east. I got a job as a private teacher for a family in Russia, and stayed with that family for 10 years. 

    “The role evolved from teaching into staff, transportation and logistics management, and other areas of increased responsibility. It also gave me the opportunity to travel all over the world, including holidaying in Marbella every summer, which was amazing. 

    “When COVID came, however, I realised it was time to come home. And like most expats, when I arrived back, there were question marks over what I should do next. I saw a seasonal job posting for Amazon in Portadown and joined so I could have something behind me whilst I cleared my head and figured out a direction for my career.”

    Sean continues: “I was made permanent at the delivery station very soon after joining, then quickly progressed to operations supervisor. An apprenticeship was the next logical step for me, and when I was accepted onto the Operations/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship it affirmed to me that I was on the right career path.”

    Sean passed the Level 5 apprenticeship with distinction in January 2024 and immediately began the CMDA. He stresses that Amazon has created opportunities for him that he’d never thought of, leading him to feel “very lucky”.

    “Since joining Amazon, I’ve had the chance to train new delivery station managers in Dublin and help with logistics during Amazon’s peak season at the company’s delivery station in Limerick,” he says. “I’ve been promoted several times, and although I’d say that you can only be as good as the effort you put in, I also attribute my success to the hugely inspiring managers I’ve met. One manager in particular jump started my belief in myself again.”

    Speaking more about his apprenticeship experience, Sean says: “Apprenticeships are the first step to you owning your career. And as you work alongside your studies, there’s evidence of your behaviours to back up the theory.

    “On an apprenticeship you’re not just studying alone, either, you’re growing alongside a team and have the support of your fellow classmates and managers. It’s brilliant.” 

    What advice does Sean have for anyone thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?

    “Don’t hesitate. I’m 35 and completely changed direction with my career, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. If I’d thought too much about whether or not I should go for it, I’d have missed the opportunity to join Amazon, and now the world is my oyster.”

    Sean plans to continue progressing at Amazon in Portadown and would one day love the opportunity to relocate to an Amazon building in Florida. 

    Nicola Drury, Head of Skills and Apprenticeships at Amazon, said: “Every year we look forward to recruiting ambitious and enthusiastic apprentices to join our teams working to deliver for customers all over the UK. Whether they’re retraining to begin a new and exciting career, or gaining new skills to take their career in a new direction, we’re proud to provide opportunities for people to find their dream roles.” 

    The 1,000 new apprenticeships highlight Amazon’s ongoing commitment to creating jobs and training opportunities for people across the UK. Once qualified, apprentices will have the opportunity to work across Amazon’s UK sites including fulfilment centres, delivery stations, sortation centres as well as corporate offices in London and Manchester, and four development centres in Cambridge, Edinburgh, London, and Swansea.  

    Amazon apprentices work across a wide variety of different schemes in hundreds of teams, from software developers in Prime Video, buyers in fashion, and production in Amazon Studios. This year apprentices could be a solutions architect in Amazon Web Services, a marketer in Amazon Music, or work with cutting-edge technology in operations as an engineer.  

    Since 2021, Amazon has pledged £8m supporting over 400 SMEs with apprenticeships via the apprenticeship levy transfer service. To date, Amazon has supported over 750 apprentices across a wide range of schemes including adult care, data, dental nurses and broadcast production assistants.

    In addition to the apprenticeship schemes, Amazon employees can also take advantage of Amazon’s pioneering Career Choice programme, which pre-pays up to 95% of tuition and fees for courses in high-demand fields, up to £8,000 over four years, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. 

    Competitive pay, comprehensive benefits and a modern, safe and engaging work environment is provided for its employees. The roles pay a minimum of £11.80 or £12.50 per hour, rising from April to between £12.30 and £13 per hour, depending on location, and up to £33,500 a year for degree-level apprenticeships. All employees also receive a benefits package that includes private medical insurance, life assurance, income protection, and an employee discount – which combined are worth thousands annually – as well as a company pension plan. 

    Source: Written from press release 

Share this story