Group celebrates five years of apprenticeships

Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) celebrated five years of offering apprenticeships by confirming its two latest apprentices into permanent roles one year early.

Holly Vasey, Customer Excellence Associate, and Lee Crabtree, IT Associate, have both completed their internal apprenticeships after 12 months, instead of the usual 24.

The trend is a common one within the Group, with all of the business’ 15 apprentices following the same fast-track process in previous years.

Holly said: “Working for GAS was the best decision I ever made.  The support I have received from my manager and colleagues has been amazing and I am looking forward to my future within the Customer Excellence team.”

Image caption: Holly Vasey, Customer Excellence Associate

The importance of apprenticeships in the new normal

Sadly, apprenticeships across the UK are under threat following Covid-related economic decline.

In 2020 more than 1,000 apprenticeships have been made redundant, which is almost double the number of the previous year.  It is thought that actual numbers in practice are much higher.

GAS recently made a commitment to ensuring entry-level roles were protected within its three-million-pound expansion.  The Group has confirmed that it has allocated 100 places, one third of its expansion over the next 18 months, to apprenticeships.

The move has been made in partnership with East Durham College (EDC), which has become GAS’ partner to deliver these ground-breaking opportunities in the North East.  Every individual enrolled on a GAS/EDC apprenticeship will be guaranteed a job with the company on completion of their studies.

Judith Bennison, Group HR Director, said: “We have loved every second of our apprenticeship schemes over the last five consecutive years.

“Creating hope and opportunities is something we are extremely passionate about and this is more important than ever, given today’s news.

“This obviously follows a pattern we will see across employment.  But we believe businesses who are able to offer these kinds of opportunities to give people a foot onto the employment ladder have a duty to do so as the country looks to recover from a terrible period.”

Offering a quality apprenticeship experience

GAS apprentices graduating into employment early is a sign of the times at GAS.  Rapid expansion has been a theme at the Group since its inception in 2012.

Many of the original cohort of apprentices have now gone on to achieve promotions and separate industry-standard qualifications with the full support of the company.

The quality of the Group’s programme was evident when it won a National Apprenticeship Award following its launch in 2015 and went on to be used in a UK-wide employability campaign encouraging people to choose apprenticeships.

The programme has continued to be developed ever since.

Judith Bennison continued: “Our new intake will feature a four-week traineeship at EDC, followed by enrolment in our official apprenticeship.

“Upon successful completion of the programme, a permanent job on the Great Annual Savings Campus at Seaham will be waiting.”

GAS’ apprenticeship scheme will begin an intake in March 2021, but expressions of interest can be made by signing up to the Group’s vacancy alerts, here.

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Paul JohnsonGroup Financial Director

Paul Johnson is very much a home-grown talent.

He joined Great Annual Savings Group in its infancy, fresh from a youth career as a professional footballer with Hartlepool United.  He quickly established a reputation within the business and aced all required accountancy qualifications in the space of four years to become the Group’s Management Accountant.

Several successful projects later, Paul was promoted to Head of Finance.  When the former FD left GAS, he took on the mantle of the business’ most senior finance professional; boasting a string of incredible achievements all under the age of 30.


“I have witnessed phenomenal growth at the Group over the many years I’ve worked here and I’m looking forward to guiding the Group into an exciting new chapter.”

Interesting fact:

Paul made his professional debut for Hartlepool United against Bournemouth in the Football League.  Some say Danny Ings still resides in his pocket to this day.