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Case studies

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To find out more about Modern Apprentices in Fife Council:

 

Ruth's Story

Ruth was an apprentice from September 2013 to September 2015 and has now got a permanent job with Housing Services as an Assessment Officer in the Housing Condition and Supply Team (grade FC5).
 

Ruth applied for her apprenticeship after leaving school at 18. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career and didn’t want to commit to university just for the sake of it,” she said. “I wanted to work, get experience and go from there, so I applied for a couple of apprenticeships. I didn’t know much about housing so I didn’t really know what to expect from the apprenticeship.”


Ruth continued: “I got loads of work experience with placements in different housing departments like Estates Management, Homelessness, Debt and Maintenance. And I worked in the Local Office, dealing directly with the public and carrying out supervised interviews.


“It’s given me far more self-confidence. To be honest, I think I’ve kind of grown up more than my friends who went to university because I’ve seen the reality of people’s lives in a way I never would have as a student. I suppose it was jumping in at the deep end but I enjoyed just getting out there and doing it!


“Fife Council actually does a lot for young employees. And the other staff in housing really welcomed me and the other apprentices as a breath of fresh air. They all helped coach and mentor us and I think they enjoyed it too.


“I’ve learned to deal with different people and different situations appropriately. By staying friendly and down to earth I build up good relationships with people, even when we’re negotiating difficult things like joint repair costs between neighbours.


“I think that this was the best thing I could have ever done after school. There was a massive pressure to go to university but personally I knew it wasn’t the right time for me and I am so glad I stuck by what I wanted. Now I have no student debt, but I do have savings, a steady income, more qualifications and endless opportunity to better my career. I really would encourage young people, especially those who do not know what they want to do, or do not feel university is for them, to look into apprenticeships.”


Ruth’s qualifications

  • Left school with 8 standard grades and 4 Highers.
  • As an apprentice did her SVQ Level 2 in Housing through Fife College and the CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing) in Housing Management.
  • Now working towards the SVQ Level 3 in Housing.
  • Ultimate aim; complete a degree… and become Head of Housing. (Well, a colleague did suggest it!)

 

Tom's Story - MA Pupil Support Assistant

Tom was at still at school when he applied for the post of Pupil Support Assistant (PSA) at Donibristle Primary School in Dalgety Bay. He was delighted when he found out he’d been successful at interview.

“It appealed to me that it was training and a job,” said Tom. “I’d never actually had a proper job before or anything like that, so the thought of actually getting money for doing something I enjoyed was great! Plus it was also a qualification - an SVQ 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. It should give me a lot of options after the apprenticeship. I go to college once a month and the rest of the time I’m working full time at the school.”

Tom is given support and development on the job as well as through college. His manager Amanda Logan said: “We have monthly meetings with Tom and talk about what his next progression is. We think about what Tom wants to get out of the job, not just what the college or the school want him to get out of the job.”

Working with children in Primary Two to Primary Five is different every day. For Tom there’s no such thing as a typical day! “It’s exhausting but rewarding. I really, really, really, enjoy working with kids and I think that I’m quite good at it.”

Amanda confirmed that over the last year and a half Tom has learned how to react to different situations and in turn how children react to things.

“He really does have a good way of working with children. He’s come such a long way and it’s nice to see Tom’s journey,” she said. “Tom’s got six months left of his apprenticeship and when he goes we will miss him because he is part of our team.

“The apprenticeship is good and I think that Tom has benefitted - he’s grown up with us, he’s learned about life.”

So what’s next for Tom? Now he’s discovered through his Modern Apprenticeship that he enjoys working with children and has gained a childcare qualification, Tom hopes to continue his education in this field. His aim is a career in educational psychology.

 

Lynne and Eileen’s stories – MA Electrician and MA Joiner

Lynne has completed her apprenticeship as an Electrician and Eileen is part way through her training as a Joiner.

Lynne says: “I previously worked in a health and safety team but I didn’t really like being in an office. There was a female Electrician working in the building and that made me think I could do that. It wasn’t something I’d thought about before but I am really glad I did it. I enjoy the achievement of making things work. There are physical aspects – lifting, bending and crawling – and there are the intellectual aspects – fault finding and thinking things through.”

‘’Outside of work I am a girly girl and often people don’t believe me when I say I’m an Electrician. What does an Electrician look like anyway?” Lynne

I enjoy the physical work and meeting people. No two days are the same.” Eileen

Eileen says: “I was always doing stuff for my family. I’d worked on a building site doing grounds work and general labouring and I was lucky enough to be put with a Joiner one day. That was it.  The guys are really nice – there’s a bit of banter but it’s good. Any preconceived ideas disappear when the guys can see you are capable of doing what they do. I work hard, I stick in, and we all treat each other as individuals. You get supported to learn and gain the skills and experience you need.”

Now that Lynne has qualified she will support a new apprentice: “I am excited to be able to work with other apprentices – it’ll be really interesting if they’re male!”And, at the end of the day, they both agree “There’s a real satisfaction in doing a good job.”

Chris & Caitlins’ Story – Bespoke Apprentices in Building Services & Public Safety

“You have a job, so you both earn money and a qualification at the same time, killing two birds with one stone.

Chris came straight from 6th year at school because, he says, “You have a job, so you both earn money and a qualification at the same time, killing two birds with one stone. College is more laid back than school too.”

Caitlin had just finished studying for her HNC in biomedical science at college before taking up her apprenticeship role.  “It suits my learning style.  I get to study and do a job at the same time where you can see your learning put into practice.”

“Every week we get ½ a day with our mentor, 1 day with a surveyor and spend 1 day at college” says Caitlin.  “Sometimes it’s good to get out of the office too which is why it’s good to get out on site. We’ve already been on site to make sure that the plans meet regulations, and contacting the architect if they aren’t!”

Both agree that the experience has been good so far.  Chris adds “It’s easier than going straight into a job because you get lots of support.” Each has their own mentor to work with and there are plenty of experiences people to learn from – from inspectors in the office to the surveyors on site.  “The atmosphere in the office is good and get on with all of them” says Chris, “There are 2 guys in the office who were previous trainees and are now working their way up so I can see the way forward from this role.”  “And they know what we’re going through” laughs Caitlin. Chris and Caitlin agree that if you’re looking for a role as an apprentice or something similar you should go for it.

Stephanie’s Story – Trainee Accountant

Prior to starting her traineeship Stephanie had gained her HNC, HND and then degree in Accounting whilst working full time.  It was just that she didn’t work in a finance environment.  “It’s hard to get a job in finance without any experience. I had the choice to do another year in education or take up a traineeship to get further education and experience.”

“Here I enjoy getting a whole range of experiences, there is always something new and I get to try lots of different things.  The range is particularly good due to the size of the Council’s budget, the variety of work it does and the political elements that drive the decisions.  I’m learning that it’s about money and people too.”

“The Council are also putting me through a training programme that involves interactive online tutorials and I get time at home on the days when I have webinars.  The subjects I choose within the course are agreed with my managers as they can identify which ones would best suit with experience, work and projects I can get involved with in the Council.  I also have a mentor who I can go to if I have an issue with anything or just find yourself a bit stuck.” 

And it’s not just training – “I am getting other opportunities too.  I have been to a conference and I have been into a high school to talk to the 6th year pupils about careers in finance.  I would never normally have got to do either of those things and both add to my personal development.”

“The people have been really nice and supportive. After the 3 years of my traineeship I hope to get a permanent position.  There are more challenges coming because of the budget decisions the Council will have to make in the future.”“To others thinking about a traineeship I would say ‘just do it‘.”

What do our managers say?

Here our managers talk about what some of newly created MA and trainee roles mean to them.

“Employing MAs is part of our commitment to improving positive employment destinations for young people.”  “They help to refresh our workforce and spread the age profile.  I spent a day going back to the floor with one of our Pupil Support Assistants and I have certainly gained more appreciation of their role and skills and also how the MA scheme works.” Bryan Kirkaldy, Head of Education, Central (Education Directorate)

‘’The MAs that I have met bring enthusiasm, willingness to learn, adaptability and an understanding of the important part their role plays’’

“Meeting young MAs has reinforced to me that we have some exceptional young people in our schools who we should be encouraging in every positive way to join our workforce and that the MA route is an ideal way of doing this. They help build skills capacity for the future in specifically targeted areas of our workforce and allow us to train and mentor young staff in ways which are best suited to our core business.”  Peter Wright, Curriculum Development Officer (Education Directorate)

“I believe the whole point of apprenticeships and traineeships is to give young people a start on the career ladder.  Some already have qualifications and others come straight from school.  We have appointed 8 Home Care MAs and 8 Care Assistant MAs in the last 8 months alone.”  Karen Marwick, Team Manager - Home Care Service (Social Work Directorate).

“There is a national shortage of Trainee Environmental Health Officer posts whilst at the same time cut backs have caused a loss of experienced personnel. We are very pleased to have 2 traineeships which provide a career start for environmental health graduates and allow Fife to help redress its age profile.”  Geoff Bates, Service Manager - Consumer & Business Education (Environment, Enterprise & Communities Directorate).“In an exciting collaboration with the Scottish Rugby Union we have created 2 Sports Development MA roles.  The apprentices will work with schools, local rugby clubs community groups and so further support young people.  This is a real win for the Council, apprentices and the community.  Did I mention we have appointed 2 women?”  Jen Henderson, Sports Development Manager (Environment, Enterprise & Communities Directorate)

And finally, a word from our political leadership...

 “The council should be seen as an employer of choice for young people in the Kingdom. The range of innovative projects being carried out by the council and its partners will also help put Fife at the forefront of employability.” Councillor Lesley Laird, Fife Council’s Depute Leader and Executive Spokesperson for Business & Planning.
 

Ruth Brown, HR Consultant 
Tel: 03451 55 55 55 + Ext 44 28 33 Contact Ruth Brown online
By Post: Fife House North Street Glenrothes Fife KY7 5LT

Caroline Murphy, HR Adviser 
Tel: 03451 55 55 55 + Ext 44 43 15 Contact Caroline Murphy online
By Post: Fife House North Street Glenrothes Fife KY7 5LT
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