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Grace Buckland Sept 11

'Excellent' apprentice Grace Buckland shortlisted for York Press Business Award

Grace Buckland once felt she might not be suited to an apprenticeship but has now been shortlisted for a York Press Business Award in recognition of her work with Roche Legal.

The 21-year-old York College Level 3 Business Administration apprentice started her role as a Client Relationship Coordinator with the solicitor firm in January 2022.

She admits to having felt “very lost” at the time having dropped out of university, but Grace believes starting an apprenticeship helped her discover an “excellent pathway” to acquire invaluable workforce, even describing it as the “best decision” she has ever made.

It has also led to her being in contention for the Apprenticeship of the Year prize at the prestigious York Press Business Awards, which will be held at York Racecourse on November 30.

On her conversion from an apprenticeship sceptic to a fully-fledged fan, Grace said: I was initially unsure about pursuing an apprenticeship, but I've come to realise that it's an excellent pathway to enter the workforce and acquire invaluable experience. Working alongside a fantastic and motivated team on a daily basis, I constantly learn new things.

“Instead of solely studying law in a classroom setting, I have the privilege of observing and learning from real-life situations as they unfold and I love meeting new clients, with new queries every day. I would certainly recommend an apprenticeship programme.

“I tried university and felt very lost after dropping out. I thought apprenticeships meant starting from the bottom, but realistically it is such a valuable route that I don’t think is talked about enough in schools and colleges.

“I would never have envisaged this for myself initially, but it is the best decision I have made. I feel lucky to have met such a talented group of people here at Roche Legal.

“(Owner) Rachel (Roche) is always motivating me to achieve more and more and does everything she can to help, not only me, but the whole team. Hopefully, this is the start of an exciting career path.”

Grace, who lives in Thornton-Le-Dale near Pickering, added that her fears that it might be difficult to find a manageable work-college balance have been allayed.

“I was initially concerned about having a job and undertaking training at the same time in case it was too stressful and hard to manage but, in fact, the work-college balance is perfect,” she declared. “Both College and work are supportive of me and there is no sense of pressure from either side.

“They are both equally as important and both are helping me acquire new skills and experiences. I get the knowledge and the practical skills combined.”

For anybody wondering, like Grace once was, if the apprenticeship route is right for them, the former York College A Level student, who gained B grades in Law, Politics and Sociology, advised: “If you are thinking about applying to an apprenticeship, don’t be worried if it isn’t exactly the role you want to be in. Apprenticeships with good companies can lead you to so many further opportunities.

“It doesn’t matter what age you do an apprenticeship, the skills you learn from it are invaluable.”

Grace has been described as an “Ambassador of First Impressions” for Roche Legal by company owner Rachel Roche.

Among her key apprenticeship duties are the building of relationships with current, former and potential new clients via email, telephone and in person.

She is also responsible for managing the intake of leads to the firm and following up to ensure a consistent improvement in the overall conversion rate.

Rachel has now decided, too, that Grace will assist her in the training programme of a second apprentice in a similar position later this year.

The intention is for the second apprentice to then assist Grace with her workplace tasks, as her responsibilities grow.

Commenting on Grace’s contributions to the York-based Millfield Lane company, Rachel said: “Grace has evolved during her apprenticeship into a true team player who can be counted on to go above and beyond. Since accepting this challenging role, she has exhibited real flair and drive to improve her skill set and has been an integral member of our close-knit team from the start.

“By working in tandem with her studies at York College, she has learned valuable skills both ‘on the ground’ and in the classroom which have allowed her to implement key competencies that are required for this brand-new, innovative, role at the firm. In terms of cognitive ability, which was measured as part of the interview process, Grace scored amongst the highest in the team.

“Although Grace did not have any experience of working in a law firm or in an office environment, it was clear that her hospitality background, including seven years working in customer service roles, problem solving and thinking on her feet made her an outstanding candidate. Her reassuring and trustworthy presence at the office anchors the team.

“She has also greatly assisted myself when I need someone to support me with office tasks when others may be working from home or visiting clients. Grace quickly builds connections in person and on the phone as she triages calls, takes messages, directly assists callers whenever possible, manages appointments, routes incoming and outgoing mail and welcomes visitors.

“She also supports all team members in other administrative and business tasks whenever required. She has been an excellent addition to the team.”

Rachel went on to describe how Grace has offered valued feedback while assisting her and the marketing manager with the design and implementation of a new intake system, which uses automation and marketing tools to further streamline the way that potential new clients are serviced.

On finding the “ideal fit” for her firm, Rachel said: “Grace’s socially focused attitude and outlook makes her the ideal fit for this role. She can naturally empathise with people, easily seeing their point of view or understanding their emotions.

“She exhibits positive communication, teaches and shares; working collaboratively with others to help in any capacity. She is accommodating and extroverted, is interested in people, lively, and a joy to be around. Grace is also focused on goals, patient, stable, consistent and crucially, in her role, is a focused listener.”

York College’s Level 3 Business Administration Apprenticeship aims to give candidates a set of highly transferable skills and behaviours that can be applied to the public, private and charitable sectors, including small and large businesses.

The delivery in College enables the apprentices to link the knowledge learnt and take this into the workplace for further understanding.

The Apprenticeship also brings a variety of students together of all ages who discuss and compare their individual workplace experiences.

On Roche Legal’s collaboration with York College, Rachel added: “The apprenticeship scheme has worked well for us, and it seems that the Business Administration course sits nicely alongside the work that our apprentice is doing for us.”

York College Business tutor Stella Franks has been equally impressed, meanwhile, by Grace’s classroom input.

“Grace is a very capable apprentice and has embraced the Business Administration course with a cheery, positive attitude,” Stella declared. “She is an excellent team member within the class and always keen to work with others.

“Grace joins in class discussions well and shares her work experience with her peers which links to the class content. She produces high level written work for her portfolio, meets all deadlines that are set and is a pleasure to teach.”

For more information on apprenticeships, whether you are a potential candidate or local business who would like to partner with us, please email