Charmaine – I manage apprentices
Islington Council’s Repairs Service has successfully been offering apprenticeships for some years now. As Training Manager for the team, I am involved in the recruitment of our new team members. Recruiting for apprentices during the pandemic meant that we had to put some extra procedures in place to make interviews Covid safe. Fortunately, with the benefit of technology we could conduct the interviews and initial college assessments.
It was really important to make sure that the apprentices were kept safe, so we ensured that all the starter training was done in smaller groups to maintain social distancing. The apprenticeship team at the council has been amazing in helping us with the recruitment process, liaising between us and the candidates.
We have kept in touch with all our apprentices with regular phone calls and small group meetings to make sure they are doing OK, especially with the extra stress of the pandemic. I note in my calendar when exams are happening, so I ring them up to wish them luck.
One of the biggest benefits of having apprentices is that they bring diversity into our teams, especially females and girls straight from school. Apprentices like Shereen Widdowson, act as role models for local residents and promote apprenticeships, especially for women. They have shown that women can be successful in construction work and they have educated the workforce on diversity. Islington Council’s repairs team is a good role model for other local authorities in this respect.
Apprentices definitely contribute to the service by developing their skills and confidence to do jobs, they don’t just watch, they have a go right from the start. Someone like Shereen working in empty properties is a vital contribution to our work load as it frees up other operatives to do other work. More importantly, apprentices like Shereen are helping to prepare properties for homeless people who need council housing.
School leavers like Roy Barnett who become apprentices are also good role models for young people. They tell their friends about the apprenticeship opportunities at Islington Council and their experience of doing an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are key to developing our workforce as we can bring young talent into our teams to replace those who will leave in the future.
Personally, I find it rewarding to support residents, especially those who are from under–represented groups or those who have had difficult life experiences. It’s good to see single parents manage the work/home balance very competently. I like to see resilience, confidence and self-esteem grow in our apprentices.
Just the other day I overheard two female apprentices discussing materials they needed to order. They were talking a new language (construction related) with such confidence and ease. I thought to myself how much they had changed and grown – they were talking a construction language as if was second nature to them. It was such a lovely moment of realisation of the great journey they have travelled.