Celebrating Kent’s success stories during National Apprenticeship Week

Three young apprentices have shared stories of their own journeys as Kent County Council prepares to mark National Apprenticeship Week.

Ellie Powling, 19, from Gravesend, completed Level 2 and Level 3 Apprenticeships at KCC and secured a job at the council sixth months before finishing the last course. Alice Ditcher, 21, from Maidstone, is currently working towards a Level 2 Apprenticeship but impressed bosses so much she’s been taken on as a permanent employee already. Nineteen-year-old Callum Carr, also from Maidstone, is due to finish his Level 2 Apprenticeship in March after starting a year ago; he also already has a permanent job at KCC.

This will be the 13th National Apprenticeship Week. The five-day annual event – this year running from February 3 to 7 – provides an opportunity for employers to promote the success of their apprentices and highlight the huge benefits of apprenticeships to other employers who may be considering taking on an apprentice.

Employees received certificates at the most recent Apprenticeship Celebration Event. Photo credit: Dave Cosens/Photogenic Images

Apprentice Alice said: “I would say for anyone considering applying for an apprenticeship – just go for it! Everyone in the team was very welcoming and my tutor was so helpful. You can choose modules to complete that fit in with the setting you’re working in, which is a really good way of doing it.”

Oliver Martin, Alice’s manager, said: “Apprenticeships are mutually beneficial for the employer and the apprentice. The apprentice gets a qualification and practical work experience and it helps them bridge the gap in terms of experience needed to get a job. The employer is given the opportunity to train someone who could go on to fill a position within their organisation.”

Throughout the week KCC will be running face-to-face training sessions for existing apprentices. The Learning and Development Team is also inviting anyone interested in finding out more about apprenticeships to drop-in to County Hall reception between 9am and 4pm any day during National Apprenticeship Week to find out more, ask questions and register their interest. Some of the apprenticeship training providers, who work with the council, will also be on hand to answer questions.

“There are job opportunities at KCC after apprenticeships and I would highly recommend going down that route. Whoever you are and whatever your skills, you will shine,” apprentice Callum Carr

Ellie said: “Throughout my apprenticeship I definitely felt like a real member of the team. I felt able to ask questions if I needed to and I knew who to go to if I needed help. Some people might think they don’t want to be on an apprentice’s wage for two years but for me, like many others, I jumped straight into a good job at the end so it was definitely worth it.”

Callum added: “I feel like I’m on the same level as other members of my team who didn’t start as apprentices and I feel I’ve slotted in well. There are job opportunities at KCC after apprenticeships and I would highly recommend going down that route. Whoever you are and whatever your skills, you will shine.”

People who complete their apprenticeships at KCC work as part of a team and spend 80% of their time with their colleagues, learning the skills required to do their job and carrying out real tasks required by their role. The remaining 20% is dedicated to ‘study time’, which can include e-learning, producing reports about the practical work they’ve done and other methods of training. The apprentice’s tutor visits regularly and is available to give feedback and advice.

Shellina Prendergast, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communications, Engagement and People, said: “National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect chance for anyone considering the next step in their career path to explore the wide range of opportunities KCC offers existing and new employees.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ellie, Alice, Callum and all those who have completed, or are close to completing, apprenticeships at KCC and wish them every success in their careers going forward.”

KCC offers apprenticeships in areas including social care, business administration and customer service, operational delivery, project management, leadership and management, business improvement and scientific qualifications such as a laboratory scientist. These range from Level 2 (Intermediate Level) to Higher Level Apprenticeships, which are degree-level qualifications.

In addition to employing apprentices, KCC, as an apprenticeship levy payer, can transfer up to 25% of its funds to Kent employers, allowing them to take on apprentices too. This process, made possible by Government reforms in April 2019, opens even more opportunities to potential apprentices in Kent. More details can be found on the link below.

 

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Notes to journalists:

The following will be available in the Bell Area, just off reception at Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone, during National Apprenticeship Week:

Monday, February 3

Learning and Development Advisors available to talk to about development opportunities, 9am to 4pm

Training Provider London Skills for Growth available to talk about Business and Administration and Customer Service Apprenticeships, 9am to 11am

Tuesday, February 4

Learning and Development Advisors available to talk to about development opportunities, 9am to 4pm

Training Provider First Intuition available to talk about Finance Apprenticeships including AAT (The Association of Accounting Technicians),10am to 12pm

Wednesday, February 5

Learning and Development Advisors available to talk to about development opportunities, 9am to 4pm

Training Provider ABM available to talk about Social Care Apprenticeships, 10am to 2pm

Thursday, February 6

Learning and Development Advisors available to talk to about development opportunities, 9am to 4pm

Friday, February 7

Learning and Development Advisors available to talk to about development opportunities, 9am to 4pm

Training Provider London Skills for Growth available to talk about Business and Administration and Customer Service Apprenticeships, 2pm to 4pm

 

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Find out more about apprenticeships here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/jobs/starting-your-career/be-an-apprentice/guide-to-apprenticeships

Lean more about receiving funds from KCC’s apprenticeship levy here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/business/business-loans-and-funding/hire-an-apprentice

Read about the Kent Graduate Programme here: https://www.kent.gov.uk/jobs/starting-your-career/kent-graduate-programme

Find out about the national picture here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/save-the-date-national-apprenticeship-week-2020-to-be-held-3-to-7-february-2020

 

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Case studies:

Ellie Powling

Ellie Powling has already completed her apprenticeship

Ellie Powling, 19, from Gravesend, joined KCC at the age of 17 as a Business Support apprentice. She completed her Business Administration Level 2 and Business Administration Level 3 and is now employed in a permanent position as a Senior Business Support Officer, working as Personal Assistant to one of the Assistant Directors of Adolescent Services and Youth Offending.

As a pupil at Northfleet School for Girls, Ellie’s favourite subject, and the one she excelled in most during her GCSE years, was business studies. So, while exploring the idea of apprenticeships, she was naturally drawn to ones where she would learn and use administration skills. Ellie completed her apprenticeship within the Youth Justice Service, which sits within KCC’s Early Help and Preventatives Services team, and was trusted with tasks including booking appointments, allocating hours to sessional workers and preparing documents for court. She shadowed colleagues and completed e-learning modules online. Ellie even attended a court hearing, and took minutes during a Restorative Justice Panel meeting, to see her preparatory work in use.

She said: “Throughout my apprenticeship I definitely felt like a real member of the team. It was a little daunting at first because the only jobs I’d had previously were thing like waitressing but everyone in the team was very welcoming and helpful. I felt able to ask questions if I needed to and I knew who to go to if I needed help.”

Ellie completed her Level 3 apprenticeship in December but was given the full-time role in June and continued with her course alongside it.

She said her apprenticeship prepared her well for her permanent role and for the world of work in general and she would encourage other young people to explore apprenticeships.

She added: “I hadn’t really considered apprenticeships at the end of Year 11 but there are so many different kinds you can do, I would really encourage people to look at their options. Some people might think they don’t want to be on an apprentice’s wage for two years but for me, like many others, I jumped straight into a good job at the end so it was definitely worth it.”

Fiona Ramsey, Senior Support Officer – North Kent Youth Justice, was Ellie’s manager during the majority of her apprenticeship.

She said: “We were very fortunate when Ellie joined the North Kent Youth Offending Team as she was very keen and interested in the apprenticeship and wanted to succeed. She also showed a real enthusiasm and interest in the service we provide to young people, which allowed us to expand her horizons and therefore we were able to arrange for her to visit court, prisons and youth panels. From the outset, she provided an excellent service to her colleagues, was always keen and interested to learn and never shied away from any tasks asked of her. As you can imagine, she quickly became a valued team member and for me personally, the assistance and support she offered to me was invaluable. It was only right that she went on to secure a permanent role within KCC, which has allowed her to utilise all of her skills and abilities. A huge loss to our team though.”  

 

Alice Ditcher

Alice Ditcher would encourage anyone considering an apprenticeship to just go for it!

Alice Ditcher, 21, from Maidstone, is due to complete her Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration in March. She started out with the Kent Adoption Service and in September she secured a full-time job there, as a Family Finding Business Support Assistant.

For 2.5 years Alice worked as a teaching assistant at Five Acre Wood School and, although she loved working with the SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) children, she had always wanted to work within social care and learn about the care system. When she saw an apprentice role advertised in the Kent Adoption Service she knew it was what she wanted to do.

Alice spent time with each team within the service, working her way through the process in the same order an adopter would, familiarising herself with each part of the process, attending family recruitment events and adoption panels, and getting to see families during one of the most significant times of their lives. She also helped organise the annual summer party for adopted children and their new families, allowing her to see the positive results of her and her colleagues’ work.

Alice’s permanent job is within the Family Finding team, which works closely with colleagues from other departments to ensure the right matches are made between adopters and children.

She said: “The apprenticeship has 100% prepared me for my current role. It was a slow process, but it needed to be slow for me to fully understand each part of it. I would say for anyone considering applying for an apprenticeship – just go for it! I was nervous at the beginning, and I had no administrative skills, but as soon as I saw the words ‘adoption’ and ‘social care’ I decided to take the risk and it was definitely worth it. Everyone in the team was very welcoming and my tutor was so helpful. You can choose modules to complete that fit in with the setting you’re working in, which is a really good way of doing it.

“Now I’m in Family Finding, and that’s huge. It’s lovely to see how you’re helping to make people’s lives.”

Oliver Martin, Business Support Officer, was involved in recruiting Alice as an apprentice and is her manager in her new role.

He said: “Alice is the second apprentice we’ve had in the team and we’re hoping to recruit a third, but she will be a hard act to follow. She was enthusiastic, positive and ready to learn right from the start. She absolutely aced the apprenticeship interview and nine months later you could see she’d grown and developed so much, and she absolutely aced the job interview too. When we do appoint a new apprentice Alice will be able to mentor them, which will benefit them both.

“Apprenticeships are mutually beneficial for the employer and the apprentice. The apprentice gets a qualification and practical work experience and it helps them bridge the gap in terms of experience needed to get a job. The employer is given the opportunity to train someone who could go on to fill a position within their organisation.”

 

Callum Carr

Callum Carr said no matter who you are, if you undertake an apprenticeship you will shine

Callum Carr, 19, from Maidstone, started his Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration in January last year and is due to finish in March. He is now employed full-time at KCC as a Senior Admin Assistant in the Lifespan Pathway 26+ Learning Disability County Admin Team.

Callum completed his GCSEs at Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood before going on to achieve a Level 2 in Health and Social Care at MidKent College. When seeking employment afterwards he had a criterion that fitted in nicely with an apprenticeship.

He said: “My mindset was, I wanted to work but I wanted to learn something at the same time. Learning while earning really worked for me and I’ve learnt so much in this year. It’s really increased my confidence as well, even with things like talking to people on the phone.

“I feel like I’m on the same level as other members of my team who didn’t start as apprentices and I feel I’ve slotted in well. The environment here is more than friendly, they’ve taken me in as one of their own. I’ve made friendships, I get on with everyone here and I’ve experience respect and gratitude from my colleagues.”

Throughout his apprenticeship, which he started in the Lifespan Pathway 26+ West Kent Community Learning Disability Team Callum has liaised with colleagues at other organisations, including the NHS, arranged meetings, and worked closely alongside more senior members of staff. He spends one day a week catching up on the written work and research for his apprenticeship course, which can include completing e-learning modules online or watching informative videos.

Callum believes apprenticeships are suitable for everyone, regardless of whether that person is academic or practical or whether they are gifted in other, equally important, ways.

He said: “It doesn’t matter if you didn’t get the top grades at school, I didn’t but I have different skills that are just as valuable and I’m now about to complete my apprenticeship and I’ve got a full-time job at a widely recognised organisation. There are job opportunities at KCC after apprenticeships and I would highly recommend going down that route. Whoever you are and whatever your skills, you will shine.”

Neil Lewis, Support Officer, is Callum’s manager.

He said: “Having Callum as an apprentice has given the West Kent Learning Disability Team the opportunity to be part of his development and progression in looking at developing a career within the Local Authority. Being a multi-discipline team comprising of social workers and health professionals has given rise to Callum being able to learn business administration skills and how this is used to support the wider team & our clients. Having someone new to the team and health & social care is always welcome and can provide a different perspective to work and this has definitely proved the case with having Callum in the team. On a whole all the team were very happy that the opportunity arose for Callum to be offered the role in the LD County Admin Team.”

Celebrating Kent’s success stories during National Apprenticeship Week was last modified: January 30th, 2020 by Suz Elvey