Coral – I manage apprentices

Recruiting for apprentices for the Early Years Educator apprenticeship during lockdown went very well. It was strange not to be able to welcome apprentices like Sophie Hussanin into the workplace on their first day. Instead, we adopted technology to do virtual presentations and keep in touch with apprentices through WhatsApp, phone and MS Teams meetings. 

All managers have an open door policy and Sophie also has regular monthly supervision sessions. She was able to take part in online training sessions and encouraged to access wider information, support and activities provided to Islington Councils employees via a virtual Wellbeing Hub.  

Sophie is our second apprentice for the Bright Start North (formerly) West team and the fifth apprentice for our Bright Start 0-5s serviceAs a service we are committed to working with Islington residents, particularly families, to build resilience. To participate in the apprentice scheme and be able to recruit local people to train as early years apprentices has been amazing.  

COVID-19 restrictions caused disruptions to our normal rich programme of activities. Sophie was extremely flexible, accommodating and adaptable and at a very early stage was drawn into helping run park walks and online activities for families with young children. She is a friendly, confident and enthusiastic apprentice who really seemed to take to it all like a duck to water! With a background in media and well-developed IT skills she has also been able to contribute suggestions for service delivery and take on some additional tasks. So, all in all it’s a privilege to have her as part of our team. 

Our apprentices have lots of local knowledge, are service users and have really helpful ideas and suggestions for service delivery and promotion. They are generally enthusiastic, keen to learn and bring their passion into our early years team. With a robust induction and ongoing support my experience is that they gain confidence quickly and can soon take an active and invaluable role  alongside colleagues. 

One of the things I enjoy most as a manager is to see any new staff member – particularly apprentices – gain confidence in a new role, develop skills and knowledge and gain a qualification that will support them into a specific career pathway. The Apprenticeship pathway is particularly special in that apprentices have access to pastoral support during their two year apprenticeship and towards the end they receive support to prepare for the next step. More often than not they go onto to secure work in a related field within the borough (where they are already living) which is brilliant and completes a full circle.  



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