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Talking apprenticeships with Ruth Badger

With her no nonsense stare and cut throat attitude, Ruth Badger's reputation precedes her.

Jane McGuire
12th February 2016
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Leaving school aged 16 with three GCSE's under her belt, Ruth decided to take a Youth Training Scheme (the old name for Apprenticeships here in the UK). Fast forward to 2015 and Ruth is a household name after finishing runner-up in The Apprentice, with two successful businesses under her belt, she has also set up a number of business courses training those hoping to follow in her footsteps.

As an inspiration in the business world, we were thrilled when Ruth agreed to sit down and talk to Training and Courses last week. From breaking the stigma of apprenticeships, to her time with Lord Sugar, Ruth was more than happy to answer our questions and share her advice with our readers. If you have ever considered a business apprenticeship, read on.


So Ruth how did you get to where you are today, have you always been interested in business?

I was interested in running my own business from a very early age but I had no idea doing what! All I knew was that I wanted to be rich and having my own business would get me there. How did I get to where I am today? I took small steps quickly. When I left school I did a Youth Training Scheme (which is now called an apprenticeship) and then set goals to get a permanent job with a £10K basic. I then pushed myself to get a £20K basic and worked my way up. I think a key element to my success was gaining experience as an employee and then using this to start my own business - basically I made my mistakes on someone else's payroll!


How did your apprenticeship shape your career?

I wouldn't have a career if it wasn't for my apprenticeship! In 1994 when I turned 16, I applied for 32 jobs in the summer holidays so I didn't have to go back to school. I hadn't done brilliantly in my GCSE's so I had no option but to do an apprenticeship. Doing this changed my life and was the best decision I ever made! I left school with only three GCSE's and within a year of my apprenticeship I passed a NVQ Level 2 which is the equivalent of five GCSE's - this was my first stepping stone.


What has been the highlight of your career?

I have had my own highlights in my career so far. I think my biggest achievement has to be my own business, The Ruth Badger Consultancy, which is now nine years old. I also own an IT company called Everything Tech Limited. Every day I walk into my office and I feel proud! In addition to this it has to be The Apprentice which was a great experience and something I will always look back on with good memories and smile.


Was being on the show as terrifying as it seems on camera?

The Apprentice for me was a really amazing experience and as silly as it sounds a lot of the time I forgot the camera was there. The experience really forced me out of my comfort zone; it taught me how to control my nerves and pushed my boundaries more than anything I have done in my life so far. If someone had told me back in 2005 that I would be going on a TV show like that I would have laughed, however it gave me a platform to go and build my businesses and my brand from which has been invaluable.


What has been the most difficult part of your career then?

I think the most difficult part has been building the right team around me. When you own your own business you have a vision of how you want to grow and to find staff to help you achieve that vision can be challenging.


What advice would you give to someone completing a business apprenticeship?

Firstly I would say to complete it, as many people don't see things through and secondly to enjoy it.  When you are young you have an opportunity to really learn from other people and shadow them or ask questions in an environment where no one will think you are stupid. Learn by asking lots of questions.


Good advice! Here at TAC we are passionate about changing the stigma behind apprenticeships. What would you say to someone who still believes a degree is more valuable than an apprenticeship?

This is a really big question for me and one I get asked a lot. To me a degree and an apprenticeship are completely different so it's hard to compare. A degree is about studying and proving you can remember things to demonstrate learning; an apprenticeship is more hands on where you learn whilst you are doing. In my opinion, as an employer I think experience outweighs qualifications. However, I wouldn’t want to take my cat to a vet who wasn't qualified.


Good answer! What are the three most important things to remember when it comes to succeeding in the business world?

Typical of me but I have four -

1. Hard work - I have yet to meet a lucky millionaire but I have met hard working ones.

2. Passion - Find something that you really have passion for. Having a real passion for something will encourage you to really strive to achieve your goals.

3. Profit - This may sound obvious but make more money than you spend. There are a lot of people who get this the wrong way round!

4. Enjoy - Enjoy whatever you do as life is too short.


Finally then, if you had your time again what would you do differently?

I am unique as I have no regrets! I got offered a job in a bar in Majorca when I was 19 and sometimes I do think what if? But I'm happy where I am so I really wouldn't change a thing!


Thanks Ruth!


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