The Links That Bind – The Power of Apprenticeship

When the young Leonardo da Vinci began his artistic apprenticeship in the workshop of one of the most accomplished artists of the time, he began an historic journey into the Humanities. Andrea di Cione, better known as Verrocchio, had created a legendary workshop known for being at the centre of intellectual discovery in Florence in the 1400s. Leonardo was one among many Italian artists who would be inspired to become a trailblazer in the arts and sciences –the apprenticeship was an undeniable catalyst.

Apprenticeship is an age-old tradition that is universal and yet, very Caribbean. In Trinidad our leading writers, artists, musicians, dancers, tradesmen and businessmen, can all speak of the importance of their mentors. From pan tuners, to wire benders, poets to Industrialists - all have learnt from imitation and re-creation.

In 1986, Susan Dore, then Personnel Manager at Republic Bank, developed a new initiative that was based on the National Apprenticeship Programme in England. Fifty participants between the ages of 16-19, straight out of secondary school, came from across the country to form the first cohort of the Republic Bank Youth Link Apprenticeship Programme. Focused on those interested in Business Studies, the seven-month training programme would teach banking processes, customer service, computer skills and office procedures as well as offer a seminar in entrepreneurship.

For Nickolas Roberts, a graduate of the programme, the “hands-on training on a day to day basis” was rewarding and significant. He enrolled after graduating from Trinity College (East) and is currently employed in the Group Marketing and Communications department in the brand management unit.

And now that the twenty-one year-old graduate is working as a member of staff at the Bank, he appreciates the way that colleagues, including managers, took an interest in his work and career plans as an apprentice. He’s gained experience from several departments and has enjoyed many opportunities to grow, learn and further his interests.

Nickolas explained that he found the entire apprenticeship process to be extremely engaging. “I’m very flexible and what I liked about the Apprenticeship Programme was that its strength was in its diversity. It’s an holistic programme covering not just banking but also personal development and entrepreneurship. I also really liked the volunteerism aspect.”

Over the years, I’m proud to say that Republic Bank has always focused on giving back to the communities we serve. And to have graduates like Nickolas share a desire to be more active in community service speaks volumes for his family, his generation and our future.

Apprenticeship is a gift that’s passed through the ages and one that is at the core of our bank and our society. I owe a great deal to those who took the time to teach, question and mentor me over the years and I hope to keep this great tradition alive.

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