Hall of Fame

Rhianne Whittingham secures Level 3 apprenticeship with Dudley Council.

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I’m currently in the role of a Business Admin Level 3 having successfully passed the level 2 qualification with the Council.

During my apprenticeship I’ve gained more confidence and independence inside and outside of work.

I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be placed in as they have supported me every step of the way.

Personally I think apprenticeships are the way forward, and I decided to take mine with Dudley Council as I’ve always heard positive feedback from others that have either been an apprentice themselves or have witnessed apprentices grow.

I would recommend the apprenticeship scheme at Dudley to anyone, as they have really helped with starting my career journey, and gave me the experience and qualifications I need to start my future career.

Check out Kerry's journey as a private sector apprentice!

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Deciding to take a gap year after college was a crucial step in deciding that university just didn’t have the same appeal to me anymore. I spent the year working and visiting some of my favourite cities in Europe. The idea of going to university in September slipped further and further away as the summer approached. Admittedly, I was never one hundred percent on the idea of uni at the beginning, it was only after working and looking further into apprenticeships that my decision began to change.

One of the major thoughts that kept crossing my mind was the crippling debt that students find themselves in, I didn’t like the idea of a 30k debt hanging over me for years to come. I’ve always had a passion for technology and knew I wanted to work in the digital field in the future. The plan was to study Digital Media but after coming across a Digital Marketing and Social Media apprenticeship on the government apprentice website my mind completely changed. What would be the point of me going to uni and getting myself debt when I could study something very similar and earn whilst doing so? For me, it was a no brainer.

My journey to finding an apprenticeship wasn’t the usual route. After having difficulty finding suitable openings within a reasonable distance I decided to write and send my CV to some technology companies in my local area. Multipix Imaging were the first company I contacted, I had come across them online and liked what I saw, they looked like a very dynamic and friendly company. Within half an hour of contacting them I received a phone call from one of their Directors inviting me for an interview.

Going to my interview I did feel nervous but I soon felt at ease, it seemed more like a friendly chat and it was refreshing to feel so comfortable with people I hadn’t met before. This only made me more eager to join Multipix, and luckily a few hours later I was offered an apprenticeship.

Since joining Multipix my role has been incredibly varied, no day is ever the same. So far I have covered all sorts including; updating the website, blogging, video editing, Photoshop, PR and social networking. We recently hosted multiple technology days which I was able to get involved in the planning for, I even got to attend one of them in Coventry which was a great experience. It makes everything worthwhile when you see the end result of everything coming together and all your hard work paying off.

As for the apprentice training side of things, I had my first training session last month and my next one is coming up soon. At the moment the main focus is on learning CSS and html coding, it’s definitely hard to get to grips with at first but it’s amazing at how quickly you can pick it up. Coding is something I never thought I would enjoy that much but I have definitely been proved wrong! It’s so great to learn new skills and further my knowledge.

If you, like I was, are undecided on the path to take after college or school then definitely look into doing an apprenticeship. I can’t stress enough about the opportunities that they provide. During college we were never told much about them which meant I wasn’t aware of any other option. I’m just so glad that I decided to take that gap year out and explore other opportunities further. I don’t think people realise the vast career areas that apprenticeships are available in, they’re not just for plumbers and builders!

To keep up to date with my journey so far you can check out my blog www.itskerry.co.uk and/or follow me on twitter @itskerryonline I always appreciate feedback and am happy to answer any questions you might have.

Sarah Ashman talks about Knowledge= Experience = Confidence

sandwell LogoFrom being an apprentice since I was 20 and I’m 23 years old now I can honestly say, from a young person’s point of view, it’s the best decision I’ve made. Purely because I feel this is what’s happened to me in the upcoming 3 years I’ve been one:

Knowledge= Experience = Confidence

This above statement is a true reflection to how I have been feeling being an apprentice, truly being the major benefit for me. The more I’ve learnt in an office the more confident I’ve become, being able to communicate better with people, understanding tasks better such as paperwork procedures including emailing, faxing, filing, posting also navigating computer systems for example bespoke to the company and achieving things like passing my driving test and owning a car. That’s the other thing about why being an apprentice is great; you get paid to learn!

It might not be much but In the long run, with added experience to my belt, I know being an apprentice will help me for the future years to come, helping me to start off my office career, giving me that push in my confidence.

Its real life at the end of the day, not staged like full time college can be. Being in a real live company seeing full force the problems and achievements it faces each day making to realise this is the REAL working world.

And to top it all off you won’t realise what you do learn. It’s a proper job and the employer does want you to pull your weight to help the company.

My moto over the years as an apprentice has been work is to be enjoyed; that way then it’s not really a job.

Luke Beale, Solihull Apprentice talks about his experience...

Solihull LogoI have been with  Solihull Council about 5 months as Apprentice Neighbourhood Ranger, I started at Warwickshire College the same week. I have carried out various tasks to date such as mowing, allotment strimming, boat duties, Oak and Shires, working with community,  hedge cutting line marking and much more. It has helped me gain confidence as person and  helped me to gain knowledge,  also the rangers can rely on me on out on site and also trust me to use different equipment once I have been  trained. Working with the council is helping  me to  gain different skills, I am attending courses and gaining knowledge on what people do and I enjoy working and helping out in different neighbourhoods.

Congratulations to Kayleigh Fisher on gaining employment with Dudley Council!

Dudley logoKayleigh Fisher – Mechanic apprenticeship  

My apprenticeship has been everything I expected and more. I have gained a higher level advanced diploma, without having to go down the traditional academic route of college and university. I have gained valuable experience from my colleagues at work which I believe I would not have been able to learn from a purely academic route.

Apart from the qualifications I have had a great experience, my line manger nominated me for apprentice of the year at the annual APSE awards, I was runner up twice which resulted in 2 trips to Germany with the sponsors of the award Faun Zoeller.

My experience is that during the course of my apprenticeship my line manager has always been there to help and provide training when I requested it, if you put in 100% effort the council will definitely return it with their commitment to you.

I have just been taken on in a permanent position as a Horticultural Mechanic so this proves if you make the commitment and work hard the chance of permanent employment is defiantly real. Make the most of your apprenticeship, take every opportunity and it enjoy it!

Jordan Marley secures Apprenticeship with Solihull!

2 moSolihull Logonths working as an apprentice with the Health and Safety Support Team has flown by, and I believe this is mainly due to how much I’ve enjoyed this time at Solihull Council. The reason why I chose to take on an apprenticeship after I completed my A-Levels is down to how I wanted to achieve to my utmost potential, whilst giving back to society through the work I’m doing. I’ve been welcomed with open arms into Solihull Council, even in other departments I don’t work in, who are always willing to help with anyone. From assisting in teaching schools new systems, to attending fire risk assessments; the amount of working and life skills I’ve learnt in this short period of time is invaluable, and I’m looking forward to the future in which I will experience even more.

Rachael Clarke, Sandwell Apprentice, talks about the benefits of an apprenticeship

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Rachael Clarke – Apprentice Social Care Assistant

I feel that since starting my apprenticeship I have gained many skills that I would not have necessarily be able to have gained had I not chosen to do an apprenticeship. I have become much more confident when working alongside families, children and other professionals, I can work well independently and as part of a team and I feel very supported by my work team at Sandwell Council (MAET Team).

The benefits of an apprenticeship are being able to meet new people, work alongside professionals who are working in the career you are interested in, being involved in team meetings/decisions and been given the opportunity to showcase skills you already have or have learnt throughout the apprenticeship. I will be able to take the skills and knowledge I have gained onto my future career.


Stephen Pearce, Coventry City Council Apprentice, wins Endeavour Award!

Stephen Pearce with Lord Mayor

Stephen Pearce won an Endeavour Award at the Freemen’s Guild Apprentice of the Year. The award recognises exceptional achievement by apprentices who may not have had the easiest journey in life.

Stephen, who is registered blind, has been an apprentice for 17 months and said:

“It was a really good night and although it was a bit embarrassing, it was really nice to be recognised. It will be good to look back in a few years and be able to say I did that.”

Although currently based at Whitley Depot, he was nominated by the All Age Disability Team who he has supported through most of his apprenticeship.

Daljit Kalsi, his manager when he worked with the All Age Disability Team, said:

“We nominated Stephen because of how well he adapted to change and he didn’t let his disability get in the way of learning and developing in his role. “We’re really proud of Stephen and are delighted that he’s won.”

The Awards Dinner took place at St Mary’s Guildhall.

Check out Sophie Russell's Apprenticeship story with Dudley Council.

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I have really benefited from being a part of Dudley councils apprenticeship scheme and feel that it has developed me as a person from the start of my level 2 and going forward taking my level 3 Business Administration with Dudley College which has expanded my knowledge as well as understand an office environment. Taking an apprenticeship with Dudley council has improved my understanding of working within a Housing organisation and broadened my knowledge and experience as well as helped me gain more qualifications. I would recommend taking an apprenticeship to anyone that doesn’t feel that college or university is the step they want to take but still are willing to learn.

Sandwell Apprentice Ashley talks about the benefits of apprenticeships

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Benefits of an Apprenticeship

You can work towards a qualification and gain the skills and knowledge you need as well as earn some money. Also, there are many different types of apprenticeships in all different kinds of sectors. There is even a possibility that the employer may keep you on after the apprenticeship because you may be good at the job role. You are fully supported the whole way through your apprenticeship by your manager, mentor and your assessor so there is a lot of support for the apprentices. An apprenticeship may be a better option than going to sixth form or university because in an apprenticeship you are working towards a qualification and having the experience of the job. Whereas at University or Sixth Form, you are just working towards the qualification and not getting any experience in the job. Most employers look for people who have had experience in that job role.

What I Have Learned About Work

What I’ve learned about work is that you end up getting all the skills and knowledge you need for the job role as well as any relevant training I need in order to my job. Some of the things I have developed in are my communication skills both verbal and written (via the telephone, face to face and email). I have also grown in confidence since starting my apprenticeship in January 2015. I have also developed in my individual skills and team working skills. I have learnt to become more organised. Making sure I am in the right place at the right time. Making sure I have everything I need to carry out my day to day work. All of this will definitely help me in my future career because when applying for jobs I may have more chance of getting it because I would meet the criteria only because the apprenticeship has enabled me to do this.


Ashley Hardy, Solihull Apprentice, talks about building a future at Solihull

Solihull LogoCurrently there are around eight thousand employees working within the Council and I work within Support and Development the so called “Jam in the Sandwich” of Income and Awards. We are a small team made up of nine members that assist not only internal staff with the running of reports, or the resetting of a password, but we also help the Solihull residents, with any Benefit or Council Tax query.

When I first started I didn’t know how big the Council would be, in terms of the size of the buildings nor the amount of people that are currently employed by SMBC. The Council is spread-out amongst the borough of Solihull, with the Main Council House, Walk in Centres, and Cash Offices.

Working within the Council has certainly expanded my ICT knowledge, as I have worked on various different systems, and learnt things on Excel that I never knew before, despite taking IT at A-Level!  But that is a good thing, as I was never fazed by the look of them, this was down to the level of training that was offered too me.

The Council is undoubtedly training orientated, aiding my development, and offering me support whenever it is needed. If there is a training course, I have the opportunity to put myself forward for more training, with the prospect of bettering myself.

The SMBC working environment is certainly a positive one, with staff following ‘The Solihull Way’ which guides employees to go that extra step for someone, whether that is someone internal or external.

With the new Council House being built, there is a more positive vibe, as it is looking at the future and looking at ways of improving, which does mean it is a very exciting time to be not only an apprentice, but to be apart of the SMBC vision.

Sean Warren talks confidence!

Solihull LogoThe apprenticeship I completed was extremely beneficial to me and has helped me in many ways, I came straight from school I had no idea of  what I wanted to do in my future but the apprenticeship helped me choose what path to take. The ranger team taught me many skills which helped me progress and complete tasks both inside and outside of work. I believe it has changed me as an individual as I have more confidence since completing the programme and find it easier to interact with other colleagues and members of the public whereas before I was very shy. I have learned to use many tools and different pieces of machinery which I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do elsewhere.

Jordan Smith, Redditch Borough Council, talks about his plans to become an Accountant

Redditch logoMy apprenticeship is in finance and as part of that I am studying with the Association of Accounting Technicians at Bourneville College. Ideally I would like to become a fully qualified accountant in the future, and I hope my apprenticeship will help develop my skills and give me the experience so I can pursue this. It has helped me massively with my studies, giving me the opportunity to see how things at college happen in the workplace.

Applying for an apprenticeship with Sandwell Council was the best choose I ever made.

sandwell LogoApplying for an apprenticeship within the Council through Think Sandwell was the best choose I have ever made. My confident wasn’t my best strength when I first started but as time went on and I started to learn more, I started to come out of my shell bit-by-bit. So I would say to all 16-24 year olds out there looking for a job to apply for apprenticeship as it’s the best experience ever. – Adam Nicholls, Learning and Development Support Officer

Warwickshire apprentice Alice Rees wins CIPD Award!

Image of AliceAlice  is very new to the world of work and HR, which makes her CIPD Award all the more impressive. Alice is an apprentice at Warwickshire County Council, working within HR, and here she tells us about her experience and excitement in winning the CIPD Michael Kelly Outstanding Student Award.

“I left my High School with A levels and went straight into a 2 year Higher Level Apprenticeship with Warwickshire County Council, which I competed August 2015. I was very passionate about learning through
the world of work and not by a full time university course like the majority of people in my year group at school. Through my apprenticeship I spent 6 month placements in the different HR functions.  During my placements I would also attend college to complete my intermediate CIPD in 2 years.

I am so pleased to win this award at such a young age and so early in my career. I never expected I would do so well but I am very proud and thankful to those around me who have made it possible. It was a tough competition and I really tried to give it my all – so I am glad my efforts have paid off!

I am now looking forward to what exciting things the future holds following this success. I am lucky to have recently secured a permanent position within the council’s HR Business Partnership and have moved from my intermediate CIPD course to my advance level postgraduate diploma. I have been exposed to some amazing opportunities whilst working for the council and this really is the highlight and a great way to end my apprenticeship and move into a HR role. I hope my success can inspire other young people to choose an apprenticeship.”

Sue Evans, Head of HR and OD at the Council said “This is a fantastic achievement and we are all very proud of her”.