To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2014, East Riding of Yorkshire Council is keen to highlight its commitment to developing its workforce and recognising the need to have appropriate routes into employment.
Apprenticeships have been identified as one of these routes and, at a time when the number of young people unemployed is high, it is important to highlight the job opportunities available to them.
The council plays an important role in the creation of apprenticeship opportunities, both within its own workforce and with organisations across the East Riding, and employs 32 apprentices across a range of service areas and in local primary and secondary schools.
These apprentices undertake a range of apprenticeship qualifications, from health and social care, business administration and customer service to supporting teaching and learning in schools, cleaning and environmental services, arboriculture and sign making.
Adam Lyons, an apprentice caretaker at Beverley Minster Primary School, said: “I was looking at the council’s recruitment site and spotted the apprenticeship vacancy. I used to be a pupil there so I knew the site well. It is also very close to where I live so a job there sounded perfect. I applied online and was invited for interview, this included answering questions and having a tour of the site with the school caretaker. I must have made the right impression because they offered me the job.
“I assist with the opening and locking up of the school and if there are any repairs required, I can use my joinery skills to mend tables, chairs and doors. I am on hand to help with moving furniture, fixing lights and any general DIY tasks. I am also quite handy with a paintbrush and can help sort out any plumbing issues.”
Kate Girking, school business manager at Beverley Minster Primary School, said: “We were keen to offer somebody a training opportunity and establishing an apprentice post was the best solution. We support Adam in learning about the workplace and what is expected of him and in turn, we have someone on site that is developing their skills and can help us complete tasks that might not have been done so readily in the past.”
Matthew King and Georgia Lazenby, apprentice teaching assistants at Elloughton Primary School, said: “We knew we wanted to work in a school and wanted to get some experience before applying for university.
“We support the children in class in the morning and then at lunchtime, we run specific sessions to help the pupils with their reading and maths which can be quite creative and it is a great opportunity to inspire young people.”
Claire Alterskye, teacher at Elloughton Primary School, said: “Our apprentices have brought enthusiasm and creativity to the subjects they lead on and it is great to see the fun they have generated in their classes. They have a different way of looking at things and this inspires the children. They also provide extra support to our teaching staff throughout the day which is invaluable.”
Claire Redfearn, an apprentice at Priory View/Applegarth Day Care Services, said: “I work with service users who have a variety of physical and learning difficulties and each person is unique. It makes my day when they are happy and smiling during the activities we run. I am learning new things every day and gaining a qualification.
“I have realised how much I care and how much I want to help people. As well as getting to know everyone and being supported by an extremely helpful team of staff here, I have attended lots of training courses on moving and handling, medication (in terms of administering and recording it correctly) and personal care.”
John Fortnum, team leader at Priory View/Applegarth Day Care Services, said: “The apprenticeship opportunity has brought a number of benefits to our service. We have provided a route into employment for young people – not only do they benefit but our younger service users enjoy working alongside people their own age. Our apprentice has brought new ideas and a fresh perspective which in turn can help change the perceptions of her peers about the client group we support.”
There has been an increase in apprentice numbers since this time last year and a marked increase in the number of enquiries about apprenticeships via the council’s dedicated web page.
Over 50 apprentices have completed their qualification with the council over the past three years, with 50 per cent of them securing employment in the council and others securing positions with some sub-contractors and partners, such as the NHS.
John Skidmore, interim director of corporate strategy and commissioning at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “Apprenticeships provide a chance to get hands-on experience, learn new skills, develop knowledge and gain qualifications needed for a chosen career. They offer an excellent route into longer term employment and with the extensive range of qualifications available we encourage both service areas and schools to consider offering apprenticeship opportunities.”
Councillor Margaret Chadwick, cabinet portfolio for council support services, said: “The council is proud to again be supporting National Apprenticeship Week, which will provide a platform to showcase the range of services on offer to people considering applying for apprenticeships and information about available opportunities, both within the authority and externally.
“Apprenticeships allow people to earn-while-they-learn and develop the necessary skills to forge a career in their chosen field.”
For further information about apprenticeships at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, visit www.eastriding.gov.uk/apprenticeships