Pandemic won’t stop us celebrating successes this National Apprenticeship Week

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week will be different from any other due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but that won’t stop Kent County Council celebrating the successes of its apprentices.

The theme of NAW2021, which runs from Monday to Sunday, February 8 to 14, is ‘Build the Future’ and the week-long event aims to encourage everyone to consider how apprenticeships help individuals build the skills and knowledge they need to enjoy a rewarding career. The theme is particularly poignant this year as businesses of all sizes across Kent and beyond will be looking towards building economic recovery post-Covid.

During last year’s NAW, KCC ran face-to-face training sessions for existing apprentices and drop-in sessions with experts for anyone considering taking on an apprenticeship. The pandemic has made such activity impossible this year, however, three individuals have agreed to share their apprenticeship stories to help mark the 14th annual NAW.

Jack Banks completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration (scroll down for full case study)

Jack Banks, now 23, from the Aylesford area, began his Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration shortly after leaving school and in addition to securing a permanent job at KCC he has seen both his confidence and his skillset grow.

Jack, who is now employed as a support officer within the council’s Economic Development team, said: “What I find to be most valuable (to this day) from my Apprenticeship is the personal development I was able to achieve with the help of KCC; once a secluded and timid individual, I am now noticeably more confident and sociable too. I sharpened my organisational skills, which both helped my workload at work and my priorities in day-to-day life. I was hesitant when I applied for an apprenticeship but I would encourage anyone looking at one to apply.”

Jack’s Line manager Jill Fulcher added: “Jack is an invaluable asset to the team and consistently brings his support, knowledge and skills every day. During the course of the past year, despite never attempting anything of that nature before, he planned, organised, oversaw and ran an online art exhibition and awards ceremony for young people, which involved online participation from many schools across Kent, Council Members, parents of the pupils and members of the public plus KCC colleagues, and was deemed a resounding success by all.”

Amy Barden completed a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Public Service Operational Delivery (scroll down for full case study)

KCC’s apprentices spend about 80% of their time working with their colleagues, learning the skills needed to do their job and carrying out real tasks required by their role, and the remining 20% studying.

Amy Barden, 20, from the Whitstable area, completed her Level 3 Apprenticeship in Public Service Operational Delivery while working within KCC’s Children, Young People and Education directorate. Amy said an apprenticeship was the perfect choice for her because she knew she wanted to work with children and young people but wasn’t certain which career path to take.

She said: “When I first saw this job advertised, I thought it was perfect for me as we adopted my sister when she was three and before that we fostered her. I have always been interested in the care system and how it works and by me growing up, meeting all different professionals to do with the care system, I thought there was nothing better than this job. There are lots of benefits to apprenticeships such as an extra qualification whilst still working and earning money. A big benefit for me was entering a team that was full of apprentices already – his really helped me grow in my role as we are all in the same boat.”

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

Sophia Dunstan completed a Level 2 and Level 3 in Business and Administration (scroll down for full case study)

Sophia Dunstan, 27, from Canterbury, completed a Level 2 and Level 3 in Business Administration after starting as a KCC apprentice at 18 and is still working for the council almost a decade later, using her experience to help new apprentices.

She said: “Part of my job role is supporting the new Apprentices in the team with the knowledge and experience I have built up within my career in KCC, not just as a former Apprentice but also as a member of staff.

“I would not be in the position I am in now if I hadn’t taken the first steps to apply for an Apprenticeship and start my career path working with young people, which is something I have always been passionate about. I love my job and the opportunities it has given me.”

To date KCC has supported 202 members of existing staff to complete training and has another 364 existing staff members on programme. The authority has also supported 226 new members of staff to complete apprenticeship training and has 192 new members of staff currently on programme. These figures include staff working in schools.

Shellina Prendergast, Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communications, Engagement and People, said: “These are difficult times we are living in but that is all the more reason to celebrate the success of our apprentices. As businesses and organisations, including Kent County Council, look towards recovering from the economic impacts of the pandemic, it is vital to have high-quality, experienced employees to help with that process and apprentices will be invaluable in this. I would like to congratulate everyone who has completed an apprenticeship with KCC to date and to those who are currently working towards one – you are doing fantastically well in extremely challenging circumstances; well done and thank you. I wish you every success in your career going forward.”

 

… Ends…

 

Notes to journalists:

 

 

Case studies:

 

Jack Banks, 23, from the Aylesford area, completed a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Business Administration.

He said: “My name is Jack and, more than two years ago, I completed an Apprenticeship with Kent County Council. The opportunity to apply for a Business and Administration apprenticeship became available to me in 2017. I applied for the role, while admittingly hesitant, and was brought in for interview shortly after. I was then lucky enough to get the role and start as an apprentice for KCC.

“I have a lot of appreciation for my Apprenticeship. Firstly, as someone who had recently left school life, I was missing a lot of skills and knowledge that most would deem essential to employment and working in most environments (including, but not limited to, the concepts of responsibilities, handling pressure, finance and urgent problem solving). Not only did I learn about these core concepts but I also had to learn about more specific skills suited to my role; skills like taking minutes, organising meetings and events are just a few examples of the skills I have both learnt and developed over my Apprenticeship.

“Personally, what I find to be most valuable (to this day) from my Apprenticeship is the personal development I was able to achieve with the help of KCC; once a secluded and timid individual, I am now noticeably more confident and sociable too. I sharpened my organisational skills, which both helped my workload at work and my priorities in day-to-day life.

To top it all off, I had the opportunity to achieve all of the above while also working towards an official qualification, experience in a working environment and a salary. Now, at the age of 23, I am a core member of the same team that trained me during my Apprenticeship with a full-time permanent position, one I find incredibly satisfying and reliable.

“Finally, I feel it is important to say that, while at one stage I was hesitant when I applied for an apprenticeship, I would encourage anyone looking at one to apply full-heartedly.”

 

Jill Fulcher, Team Leader for Programme Support in Economic Development, and Jack’s line manager, said: “Jack is an invaluable asset to the team and consistently brings his support, knowledge and skills every day. His confidence levels have expanded hugely due to his success and his particular strength is in ICT, and all things related. He is the ‘go to’ person for many in the division for any advice or issues in this area. I believe his own personal knowledge has also expanded since the first lockdown as he completely embraced the use of MS Teams, and especially Zoom meetings, and how they work, and has passed this knowledge on to many others ensuring online meetings run smoothly and professionally.

“During the course of the past year, despite never attempting anything of that nature before, he planned, organised, oversaw and ran an online art exhibition and awards ceremony for young people, which involved online participation from many schools across Kent, Council Members, parents of the pupils and members of the public plus KCC colleagues, and was deemed a resounding success by all. After his apprenticeship was completed Jack spent some time with another team in the division before securing a permanent full-time role as a Support Officer.”

 

Amy Barden, 20, from the Whitstable area, completed a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Public Service Operational Delivery.

She said: “My name’s Amy and I’m 20 years old. I am a KCC apprentice working as part of the Participation Team. I joined KCC in July 2019 and I have just finished my apprenticeship qualification.

“I first wanted to do an apprenticeship because I was not sure what career I wanted to go into, but I always knew I wanted to work with children and young people. When I first saw this job advertised, I thought it was perfect for me as we adopted my sister when she was three and before that we fostered her. I have always been interested in the care system and how it works and by me growing up, meeting all different professionals to do with the care system, I thought there was nothing better than this job. I gain another qualification out of this apprenticeship too, so it was perfect for me. I could then start to really think about what career I want to go into.

“Since being on the programme I have learnt and achieved so much, such as I have now completed 13 knowledge exams and have built further on my knowledge on legislations, policies, and procedures. There are lots of benefits to apprenticeships such as an extra qualification whilst still working and earning money. A big benefit for me was entering a team that was full of apprentices already – this really helped me grow in my role as we are all in the same boat. If I ever need help with my apprenticeship work, they can support me and that support has made me more confident.

“I feel so happy and proud that I have now successfully achieved my Level 3 Apprenticeship in Public Service Operational Delivery and have been able to move up in my team and become a Participation Support Assistant. I can’t wait to see how far I further grow in the team in years to come.

“I think an apprenticeship really is a beneficial stepping-stone for those who just aren’t sure what path they wish to take just yet in life or just want to go straight into work rather than higher education. I really did enjoy my time on the programme and being an apprentice.”

 

Sophia Dunstan, 27, from Canterbury, completed a Level 2 and Level 3 in Business and Administration.

She said: “I am a Participation Support Officer in the VSK (Virtual School Kent) Participation Team. I started as a KCC apprentice in 2012 when I was 18. The apprenticeship I initially studied was a Level 2 Business and Administration whilst working as an Apprentice Participation Worker. I took on this role due to my personal experiences of growing up in Foster Care. I’ve always wanted to help young people who have similar shared experiences with myself and be part of a team that works to make positive changes to Children’s Social Services.

“Once I had completed my Level 2 qualification, I was given the opportunity to complete a Level 3 qualification, which was a no brainer for me as I couldn’t imagine myself working anywhere else in a different role.

“During the time I was completing my Level 3 Apprenticeship I fell pregnant. This scared me so much as I wasn’t sure how that would stand with me continuing my Apprenticeship and following my passion for working with young people. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about as I was able come back to complete my Apprenticeship after taking some maternity leave. During this time, I had huge support from my Line Manager; she really went above and beyond to make sure I had a good work/home life balance. This made me really happy as it showed me I don’t have to put my career on hold because I became a mum at age 20.

“Throughout the next few years within my team, I have learnt so much and I have been able to build good relationships with young people, their carers and other colleagues throughout KCC and in partner organisations.

“Now I’m 27 and am working as a full-time Participation Support Officer. Part of my job role is supporting the new Apprentices in the team with the knowledge and experience I have built up within my career in KCC, not just as a former Apprentice but also as a member of staff.

“I would not be in the position I am in now if I hadn’t taken the first steps to apply for an Apprenticeship and start my career path working with young people, which is something I have always been passionate about. I love my job and the opportunities it has given me.”

The post Pandemic won’t stop us celebrating successes this National Apprenticeship Week appeared first on KCC Media Hub.

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week will be different from any other due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic but that won’t stop Kent County Council celebrating the successes of its apprentices. The theme of NAW2021, which runs from Monday to Sunday, February 8 to 14, is ‘Build the Future’ and the week-long event aims…
The post Pandemic won’t stop us celebrating successes this National Apprenticeship Week appeared first on KCC Media Hub.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *