Samantha and Jenny
For two Mid Argyll girls, the Modern Apprenticeships scheme has already proven to be a valuable experience. Samantha, from Ardrishaig, and Jenny, who is from Crinan, joined the council’s Customer Services team in May 2014 as Modern Apprentices. Ahead of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, 18th to 22nd May 2015, the girls were proud to receive their Modern Apprentice certificates and SVQ qualifications.
Samantha heard about the council’s Modern Apprenticeship opportunities at school and, seeking a career in administration, decided it would be the ideal way to get started in the workplace.
“I did Higher Admin at school and really enjoyed it. I’ve always thought the council is a really good place to work. When I heard about this, it sounded great, with opportunities to learn more and work your way up. My family lives in Argyll and I really want to be able to stay here and have a good career. This is a chance for me to do that,” she explained.
Jenny added: “I’ve always been interested in working with the council and I got the chance to do work experience there while I was at school. That was a good stepping stone to the Modern Apprenticeship scheme. I’ve found the training really interesting and everyone has been very helpful. I’ve been able to build on what I learned at school – we are learning how to use different systems and software, as well as shadowing other people and seeing how the process works. It’s really good.”
Now armed with their Modern Apprenticeship certificates and new SVQ qualifications, both Samantha and Jenny are fully prepared to enter the world of work. Samantha has just been offered a clerical post within the council's Customer Services department and is clear about how much her Modern Apprenticeship experience has contributed to her success.
"When I started, I had literally just left school - the day before! This gave me a great chance to learn and get experience before going out and getting a job. I'm really happy that I've got a job with the council - it means I can continue doing something I've really enjoyed. It's never been boring and has really helped to develop my knowledge and skills. I can't wait to get started full time."
Chris Cupples is an apprentice mechanic with Argyll and Bute Council’s Fleet Support team in Lochgilphead.
Chris, from Tarbert, joined the council in January 2013 after starting his apprenticeship with a private garage company. He says that one of the best things about his job is the chance to work on a wide range of vehicles and challenges.
“Every day is different,” he explained. “One day, you could be fixing a bin lorry or a gritter – and then you’re doing everyday repairs on a small car. It means you can learn about a lot of different aspects of mechanics, which you might not be able to do somewhere else.”
As part of his apprenticeship, Chris spends a week every two months at college in Glasgow. “It’s a good chance to learn more about what you’re doing at work. I’m able to learn on the job but also in a college environment, which is really good.”
Finding a job with prospects for the future, that’s also close to home, has been a bonus for Chris: “Being able to learn a trade, but also earn a wage at the same time, is great, and I started earning as soon my apprenticeship with the council started. It’s close to where I live which is handy, but I also get the chance to work all over Argyll and Bute, including the islands, and that’s not an opportunity that comes with every job.”
“I would encourage anyone else who is interested in an apprenticeship with the council to find out more. It’s a good place to work.”
In 2015, having just left college, Holly was unsure about the direction she wanted to take with her career until she came across an advert for a Modern Apprenticeship opportunity:
“The Council were offering a placement for a year gaining work experience in the Social Work Admin Office, based within Children and Families while also working towards an SQV2 in Business and Administration. The advert sounded interesting and the bonus of this was that I could work towards a recognised qualification which would be recognised by future employers, while gaining work experience and also earning money at the same time. I was interested in working towards the qualification and rather than the SVQ level 2 actually obtained an SVQ 3 qualification instead.”
“The staff within the office could not have made me feel more welcome and I felt valued as a member of staff just like all other employees, so for me the transition to working in an office environment was easy. The work was interesting and I really felt like I was helping and making a difference. It gave me an insight into an area of social work that I probably would never have seen had I not undertaken the modern apprenticeship.”
Completing her Modern Apprenticeship in 2016, Holly was successful in securing employment with the council:
“After the completion of the modern apprenticeship I was offered a temporary part-time role within the same office within Social Work and that allowed me to use the skills which I had learned in the previous year. I also applied and was successful in obtaining an additional part-time role within NHS Highland, working within NHS Highland in the morning and Argyll and Bute Council in the afternoon. This gave me more experience working in a different workplace and kept me on my toes by working in two very different roles.”
Holly is moving forward with her career and all her hard work and determination has paid of having managed to buy her first home just 2 years after starting her apprenticeship.
“When I look back at my time doing my modern apprenticeship I see now that it not only gave me a recognised qualification, but more importantly it gave me administrative skills that I can transfer into other areas of work.
I am so excited to see where the next few years take me. Thank you to everyone who has helped along the way.”
For Cameron, his Modern Apprenticeship has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of his life and has helped him achieve his long term ambition of being accepted for University to study Cyber Security and Networks.
Cameron was studying his HNC in Computing at college when he discovered the opportunity for an IT Modern Apprenticeship at Argyll and Bute Council. He decided that this would be the ideal opportunity for his to gain some real life work experience and put into practice the skills he had learnt at college.
“I loved the thought of working in a professional environment, whilst being paid to learn which was within my local area”
In June 2015, Cameron joined the council’s Customer and Support Service as an IT Apprentice. Throughout his apprenticeship, Cameron got involved in a number of different aspects within the team including Desktop Support, Communications and the Server team. Throughout his time in the different teams Cameron undertook a wide range of roles including visiting sites with engineers, building, issuing and supporting council assets such as laptops and mobile phones, troubleshooting faults and connectivity issues, resolving faults and connectivity issues.
Having been a factor for attracting Cameron to the post, his training was delivered by QA Apprenticeships. Throughout his apprenticeships, alongside his tutor visiting him in the workplace and assessing him at his role, Cameron attended 6 classroom courses based in Glasgow which were relevant to both his communications role and desktop support.
Speaking about his training Cameron said,
“Attending these courses allowed me the freedom to work in a professional classroom based in Glasgow City Centre but also provided me with knowledge which I could relate back to my job. Alongside the courses I had coursework which my assessor would come out to my workplace and assess on site, providing a pass where applicable. The timescales are strict but the coursework is an imperative part of the learning process as this allows you to understand professional etiquette and ways of working.”
“I have enjoyed my apprenticeship coursework as it has taught me multiple skills and also allowed me to understand skills I never knew I had.”
Cameron is confident these qualifications will benefit him in the future:
“Both my high level technical apprenticeship qualifications will allow an employer to know and understand that I have worked in a professional environment where I have developed myself from fully qualified and trained professionals in the industry. Having a college/university qualification is excellent as it is a real achievement but having work experience in your chosen career path is so beneficial to your career, as it provides not only a grounding in what you have chosen to study but it also provides an amazing CV credibility, it shows that you want to work and are passionate about the subject. Having these qualifications has helped me gain entry to Glasgow Caledonian University to my chosen course. This has not only enhanced my knowledge in computer networking but has also widened my approach to various other sections of computer networking such as Server administration and telecommunications.”
Despite moving onto University, Cameron has thoroughly enjoyed his Modern Apprenticeship and hopes to work for Argyll and Bute Council again in the future:
“Being part of various teams and learning more and more about the way each team interact, meeting amazing co-workers and working in a professional setting whilst studying and learning about my chosen career path has been an amazing experience. I have been shadowing professional individuals throughout my apprenticeship and as such have gathered exceptional real world experience which I can use in university and in my career. A personal highlight for me is being a valued member of each team I was in and being allowed to study for exams and travelling with colleagues to various islands and locations throughout Argyll and Bute. Working for Argyll and Bute Council has been absolutely fantastic, I have enjoyed the travelling to various islands which I have never been to before, it is an exciting and enjoyable company to work for as you can see community projects come to life. I love working for Argyll and Bute Council and if possible would relish the opportunity to come back and work herein the future.”
“Working for Argyll and Bute Council has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, I have had a great time working here and is something I will always look at with pride. Argyll and Bute Council and their IT department are the reason I have managed to get into university and follow a long standing desire to study at university level and I will always be thankful to everyone who helped me along the way.”
Naomi Campbell, at just 18, has gained a Level 2 SVQ and vital practical experience to help her achieve her goal of a career in youth work. What’s more, she has had an “amazing life experience”.
Naomi was attracted to becoming a Modern Apprentice in Youth Work for Community Planning, due to the combination of being able to learn close to home and still receive an income. She found out about this opportunity at school, and overcame the hurdle of completing her first ever online application form to secure an interview. Right from the start Naomi was challenged in a positive way:
“I was told I would have to make a presentation (answering a set of questions) in front of a panel. Personally being in front of a panel wasn’t all that scary as I had done this before.”
Naomi was successful and started with the council in July 2016, beginning her SVQ Level 2 in Youth Work, which built on some of Naomi’s prior extra-curricular experience.
“The course covered creating strong meaningful relationships with young people, whilst helping them to realise their potential, building on my previous knowledge from being a facilitator for Youth Scotland.”
Naomi is a prime example of how SVQ’s can help those of all academic backgrounds gain qualifications to move forward in their desired career.
“I found my qualification was really interesting, teaching me so much more than I expected. It has given me a lot of confidence and strength to be able to go further in my career. I have had the opportunity to gain a qualification in the field I’m interested in, while creating great memories that I will never forget.”
“This was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change. My time working for Argyll & Bute Council has honestly been a great experience, 100% would come back to work here! The council are great at looking after their employees.”
To all those considering a MA, Naomi would like to tell you: “Go for it! You get so many different opportunities; you’ll gain so much confidence within yourself from being in a workplace.”
Liam found his apprenticeship, absolutely key to providing him with knowledge of a working environment and helping him to go onto secure the post of Welfare Rights Assistant on completion of his apprenticeship.
As part of his role, he was required to spend time on reception within the Helensburgh Civic Centre, this meant undertaking an exciting range of tasks:
“I dealt with everything from room bookings, handling enquiries and filing, to minuting meetings and greeting and directing visitors.”
As a result of the role he undertook as part of his apprenticeship Liam has found a new confidence:
“I have little to no problems dealing with members of the public. My professionalism has developed a lot. I find it a lot easier to speak to members of the public face-to face and over the phone.”
Liam was able to complete his SVQ in Business and Administration conveniently through distance learning.
“I was given assistance whenever I needed it to complete my SVQ, and was supported by being given plenty of time to complete the work.”
Liam found his MA an ‘ideal opportunity’ to immediately enter the world of work upon leaving school and his experience has led him to secure further employment within Argyll and Bute Council:
‘It is a choice that I am glad I made!”