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News: Apprentices get ahead

Please note: This news story may contain information that is no longer current or up to date.

Archway Learning Trust, which is made up of three secondary schools and a primary school plus post-16 provision, uses apprenticeships to grow and develop its staff.

The Trust has been working with the College for the last few years, and at the moment they have 12 apprentices working for them, who are completing qualifications across a diverse range of roles.

From teaching assistants to IT engineers, and from design & technology technicians to youth workers, Archway Learning Trust offers apprenticeships across the organisation. Apprentices complete a qualification alongside their studies and receive a wage, with many going on to a higher level apprenticeship or gaining permanent roles at the Trust once they qualify.

We spoke to some of their current and former apprentices. 

Alex Carr, Apprentice IT Engineer

21-year-old Alex had been unemployed for six months when he came across an IT Engineer apprenticeship vacancy at Archway Learning Trust. He applied through Central College Nottingham and was offered a place to start work in September last year. He’s now getting close to completing his NVQ Level 2 Diploma in IT Support.

Alex hard at work

During my apprenticeship I’ve been assisting the team that supports the whole academy network of PCs and infrastructure. I work with teachers needing support with classroom PCs or laptops, and whenever we get contracted support I work with the contract engineers. 

I’ve been in the workplace full-time and an assessor from the College comes out to see me at work. He knows his stuff and I can ask questions as often as needed. He’s also good at assessing in alternate ways, instead of just relying on written work. It’s useful for people like me who didn’t get on very well with A Levels and full-time college – it’s good to have an alternative assessment method. The team I work with at the academy are also supportive. 

The combination of both hands-on practical skills and the qualification will be useful for me in the future. The qualification says I’ve learnt the specifics obviously, but I think the real job experience will probably help more, for me at least, when looking for jobs in the future. 

I think a decent technical apprenticeship can really set you up to get a better job, eventually going on to earn more money and complete more professional qualifications. 

 — Alex Carr, apprentice IT engineer

Jade Russell, Catering Assistant and now Junior Chef

Mum-of-one Jade Russell applied for an apprenticeship at Archway Learning Trust with the College to get herself back into work and training, and has since used the qualification to secure both a permanent role and a promotion at the Trust.

26-year-old Jade has recently been promoted to Junior Chef, after her manager spotted her potential during her Level 2 Catering and Hospitality apprenticeship, and then helped her build her skills as a catering assistant at Bluecoat Academy on Aspley Lane. 

Student smiling whilst holding a mop in the kitchen
Jade Russell, Junior Chef

I was 24 when I started my apprenticeship and it was daunting going back to work at the age I was as a mum. But my advice to people would be to just go for it! I had thought it would just help me get back to work quicker, but now I’ve got a qualification and a permanent job out of it! 

Before I started my apprenticeship I expected it to be mostly studying, but actually it’s more about on-the-job learning. So I think getting your college work done isn’t as hard as people might think, as you do train a lot on the job and learn as you go along. 

My mentor at the College, Lisa, was really nice and really helpful. I could contact her and ask questions if I was ever struggling with anything. 

Everyone at work is really nice and I’ve had lots of people working with me to show me things and make my job easier. The Chef has been training me up, even above and beyond my role to help me in developing my skills. To be honest at the end of the apprenticeship I had thought that would be it, but then I was offered a permanent job there which was great. 

I studied maths and English Functional Skills as part of the qualification. At first I didn’t really want to have to study those subjects, but actually it was nice to have a refresher, and in my job for example I do handle money, so it’s been useful. 

 — Jade Russell, Junior Chef

Adam Stewart is another apprentice success story for Archway Learning Trust. After completing a teaching assistant (TA) apprenticeship there, he has now secured a permanent TA role at the Trust.

Adam Stewart, Teaching Assistant

I chose an apprenticeship over a university degree because I prefer the hands-on approach, rather than just studying from books every day. Although there is some studying to be done, I feel like I’ve learned so much more by working than I would if I was just studying full-time. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started, as I’d done A Levels and just been taught in the traditional way with lessons. However, I found out that the good thing about apprenticeships is you get the freedom to do the work to a deadline, but in your own time when it best suits you. I think if you feel you’ve had enough of the sort of learning you get with A Levels, an apprenticeship could give you a completely fresh start in the learning process. 

During my apprenticeship I was working full-time in the classroom on a one-to-one basis with a child with special educational needs. I had a mentor from the College who checked on my work and how I was getting on. They were really good and very supportive – literally just an email away. 

I think Archway Learning Trust is a good choice if you want an apprenticeship. Their attitude towards apprentices is really good. In my experience, you are treated like any member of staff, which means you get fully involved with the children and get the opportunity to actively help them. 

The best bit about my job is definitely working with the children – every child is completely different and no day in a primary school is ever the same! I get along really well with everyone and it’s a good team. 

From my experience I would say people should definitely take a good look into apprenticeships. It’s definitely something I never considered initially, and now I think it’s a really good way of getting into industries and jobs. 

 — Adam Stewart, Teaching Assistant
Published on:
  • 16th August 2017 (3:34 PM)
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