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1 Year of Apprentice of the Month – A Recap

1 Year of Apprentice of the Month – A Recap

You might have seen that last week, Lucy Scoble from DJM Music Ltd was named as our August Apprentice of the Month winner. This was a particularly special occasion, as it marked one year since we started giving businesses the opportunity to reward their apprentices for all of their hard work and determination by nominating them to receive a certificate, trophy and £20 cinema voucher.

In the last year, the standard of nominations and winners has always been high, so we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and remind you of the winners in the last 12 months.

August 2015 – Harry Blancke (Dartford Borough Council)

To kick off the awards was our first winner, Harry who worked in the Housing Department of Dartford Borough Council. His boss Alison couldn’t stress enough how Harry took everything in his stride from dealing with direct debits for housing tenants to creating tenant statements, always going over and above what was expected of him. When we spoke to Harry, he seemed shocked that he had not only been nominated for the award but also that he had won! He said that he “enjoys the responsibility level he is given and feels part of the team”.

He really did fit in well with the team, this included joining some of the other staff to play football. Alison was full of more praise for him. “It’s amazing for an employer to have such confidence in somebody knowing he is going to get it right” and she also acknowledged the level of effort that Apprentices put in. “They do a full time job without the full time wage and they are fantastic”. As our first winner, Harry really set the bar high for future winners and was a fantastic Apprentice to kick-start the awards.

September 2015 – Amelia Kury (Virtual School Kent)

Our second winner was Amelia Kury, who was a Participation and Engagement Support Assistant with Virtual School Kent, a department of KCC. When we arrived to meet Amelia, word had obviously gotten around that she had been chosen as our latest winner, as her boss Joanne and the whole team had come to see her get presented with the award! After completing her A-Levels at school, Amelia was unsure of what to do next until her mum suggested she look into an Apprenticeship. She admits that neither her or her mum knew as much about them then as they do now. “I knew nothing about apprenticeships and it hadn’t crossed my mind and actually it’s a good idea. Nowadays there is a better profile about apprenticeships”.

Amelia started off undertaking a Level 3 qualification in Business Administration as this covered the most aspects of her job but later went on to be the first apprentice to start our new Level 4 Apprenticeship too!  When we talked to Amelia about a typical day, she admitted that she “feels like I am making a difference”. The most enjoyable part of her job was “meeting children who are in care and giving them the opportunity to gain something from the work that we do.” Amelia also noted that one of the young people she had worked with told her that they wouldn’t have started college if it wasn’t for her, so it was fantastic for us to see an Apprentice that was making such a positive impact on other people.

October 2015 – Stephanie Broom (KCC Democratic Services)

The next winner of the award was Stephanie Broom, another fantastic Apprentice within KCC who was nominated by her managers, Denise and Andy. Like Amelia, all of Stephanie’s team welcomed us in to see her presented with her awards and prizes, this time by KT&A Partnership Manager Tony Wegg. When we spoke to Stephanie, we first asked what interested her in an apprenticeship. She knew she wanted to work for the local council and the job description was well suited to what she was looking for in her first role, and offered her the chance to work towards achieving an NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration. Once we’d established how she got started, we then found out what she enjoyed most about the role. She particularly enjoyed learning on the job, being part of a team and working with the public.

As with all of our winners, we also had an in-depth chat with Denise and Andy to find out more about Stephanie as an employee. They said that she had joined at the start of a busy season in March 2015 and was thrown straight into the deep end as the team processes over 2,000 school admissions appeals within a three month period, exceeding expectations. They nominated her for the award as she rose to the challenge and really hit the ground running.

They also said that they would encourage any business to take on an apprentice as they believed Stephanie is an excellent example of the important contribution that an apprentice can make to any team.

November 2015 – Chloe Trickey and Nicole Smith (Revenues, Benefits and Recovery team, Ashford Borough Council)

November saw two Apprentices within the same team chosen for the award! Chloe and Nicole from the Revenues, Benefits and Recovery team at Ashford Borough Council were nominated together by their managers, Judy and Andrew. The girls were very similar in their motivation for choosing an Apprenticeship, they both wanted a challenge, and knew that an Apprenticeship was the easiest way to get valuable office experience. Both girls were working towards their NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration, and Andrew told us at the time that they were way ahead of schedule on their NVQ coursework – they had even been told to lay off the coursework for a while as they were so far ahead!

When they started work, the pair immediately clicked and worked together flawlessly. Essentially they both had the same job, but they quickly devised rotas between them so that work could be varied and shared between the two of them. When we spoke to Andrew and Judy, Andrew was quick to point out that their work was impeccably accurate and that he had no complaints which is always good to hear, especially about our winners.

February 2016 – Hannah Thomas (Libraries and Archives Team, KCC)

We took a break from the award over Christmas and New Year, but we were back in February to crown Hannah Thomas from the KCC Libraries and Archives team in Aylesford as the latest winner. When we met Hannah and her boss Caroline and presented them both with their awards, she was met with a round of applause from her colleagues, who were all clearly proud of her achievement. Hannah’s path to an Apprenticeship wasn’t quite as planned as others, she had been working in Morrisons and was hoping for a change of career. As well as looking for job or apprenticeship opportunities herself, Hannah’s whole family were on the case and it was actually her Grandma that saw the role advertised in the local paper. Knowing that Hannah has a huge interest in books her Grandma knew this could be a fantastic opportunity for her.

Hannah thought this job could be the perfect fit, applied and low and behold was successful. When speaking to her about her typical day-to-day tasks Hannah struggled to pick her favourite part of her job as she said she enjoys all of it!

Speaking to Caroline, Hannah’s boss, she couldn’t sing Hannah’s praises enough. The whole office has seen improvements. Hannah has been pivotal in keeping the team on top of their workload during their busy times. “Hannah just stepped in, picked up the training quickly and got on with the task”.

March 2016 – Liam Uden (Barton Junior School)

We travelled a bit further than usual to present the March award and went all the way to Dover, Barton Junior School to be precise, to meet winner Liam Uden and Principal David Meades. Liam was undertaking an Apprenticeship in ‘Supporting Teaching and Learning’ at Level 2 and had always been looking to work in education.  Liam decided to look for an Apprenticeship, but didn’t go about it in the normal manner of applying through our website. Liam had a number of younger siblings at Barton Junior School and so approached David Meades to ask about the possibility of undertaking an apprenticeship with the school. He had sourced information on various providers and it was David that decided to give us a call and the rest is history.

Liam spends different days of the week working with different classes, teachers and pupils from years 3 to 6. When we asked Liam what the favourite part of his day is he said “every day is different, I come in not knowing what to expect, everything has had different challenges”. Liam was full of praise about Apprenticeships in general which is great to hear, he said “I would recommend anyone do an apprenticeship, if they know what they want to do and they don’t have the qualification or training to get to where they want to be it’s the best way”.

Principal David Meade said of Liam “having an apprentice has definitely helped the school but of course that’s because of Liam, he’s been brilliant. His enthusiasm, keenness to learn and willingness to undertake new things even outside of his comfort zone are fantastic”.

April 2016 – Kimberley Smith (Repton Manor Nursery)

By the eighth month of the Apprentice of the Month awards, the quality of nominations we were receiving was still as high as ever. For April’s award, we travelled to Repton Manor Nursery in Ashford to present Kimberley Smith and Nursery Manager Nicki Pittam with their awards. Kimberley had recently finished her Level 2 in Childcare and was preparing to start her Level 3 qualification.

Kimberley’s route to her Level 3 apprenticeship involved a lot of hard work and progression that greatly impressed her manger Nicki. She initially started with a temp job which soon got extended. After this had finished, Nicki wanted to keep Kimberley on so decided that an apprenticeship was the best way to allow her to continue working with the nursery whilst gaining an early years qualification which she did not currently have.

Kimberley’s typical day was very different from most of our Apprentices, it involved coming in and setting up activities for the day, comforting and talking to the children as they come in, taking part in activities such as group time and circle time, going outside and playing with them, and some of the more ‘hands-on’ jobs such as changing nappies and blowing noses. Her favourite parts of her job were group time, being creative with planning activities, and bonding and forming relationships with all of the children.

May 2016 – Nat Annetts (Red Bullet)

For May’s award, we visited Red Bullet, a web development agency in Canterbury to meet Nat and his boss, Steve. Nat at the time was in the final month of his Level 3 qualification and has since gone on to become a full-time employee at Red Bullet which was fantastic to hear.

Nat’s path to an apprenticeship came when he was working at Sainsbury’s but was at a crossroads in his career and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next. Fortunately, he heard about an opportunity at Red Bullet through his brother who also works for the business. They were looking for an apprentice to come in and begin work on a specific website project, hitting the ground running and bringing in a lot of their own ideas and initiative to drive the project. Nat applied for the job through a job search website and was successful. He initially started at a Level 2, but within weeks was moved up to a Level 3 and coped fantastically with the extra work.

When we asked what Nat’s boss Steve what changes he has noticed to the business since bringing Nat in, it was great to hear that as well as his crucial work on the aforementioned website project where he spearheaded key decisions and helped to solidify the brand with his own ideas and creativity, he has transformed the atmosphere of the business with his youthful and motivated attitude.

June 2016 – James King (Semma4)

In a unique twist to our usual award presentation, for the June award we had the pleasure of surprising James with his award as his colleagues had made sure to not tell him that he had been chosen as that month’s lucky winner until the day arrived. As all of his colleagues gathered round to see him presented with his trophy, certificate and £20 cinema voucher, the surprise and joy on his face was clear to see.

James was originally interested in finding a mechanics Apprenticeship, but his keen interest in the military attracted him to the role he saw advertised at Semma4. James had helped out there as part of a course a year earlier so was already familiar with the organisation and staff. The military aspect of the job attracted James to the Apprenticeship, and he said he has learnt so much about working with customers, and about the products he sells.

James’ boss Mark had nothing but good things to say about him, “Thanks to James’ ambition and initiative, we are now selling products that we never had before, using new suppliers that James identified himself, and he has generally taken the pressure off the team”.

July 2016 – Kia Watson (South Kent Youth Offending Team, KCC)

Last but certainly not least in this recap of the awards is Kia Watson, who has been undertaking an NVQ Level 3 qualification in business administration as an Apprentice with KCC’s South Kent Youth Offending Team in Folkestone since last October and was nominated by her manager Maria. Kia is actually one of seventeen apprentices in the workforce, so it’s really good to see the organisation recognise the values of an apprenticeship and offer young people these opportunities.

When we asked Kia what her favourite part of her job is, she said generally working in the youth justice sector, learning different processes, especially dealing with the courts and legal side of operations. It looks like Kia has now found her ideal career path, as when we asked her what her career plan going forward is she said she would like to do the same sort of work, but would particularly like to work with children.

When Kia started her Apprenticeship, her supervisor was ill so she was thrown in at the deep end so to speak and had to pick things up at a faster pace. Her manager Maria was impressed with how quickly she became a critical member of the team and said “Kia’s learning curve has been steep but she’s been a hard worker and a fast learner, and a major breath of fresh air to the team. She’s made the team gel and allowed them to function and focus on their work, and is clearly passionate about the role”.

Congratulations to all winners

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping businesses to reward their Apprentices for all of their hard work over the last year, and look forward to handing out the award for many more years. Congratulations to all of our winners, and good luck to you if you’re an Apprentice hoping to win the award yourself one day. If that is you, make sure you send your boss our way to download the nomination form before the 10th of each month.