For apprentices and their employers, the last few months have been challenging. Sadly, some apprentices have lost their jobs through redundancy, making it harder for them to complete the qualifications they have worked so hard towards. Among the bad news though, there has been some brilliant successes. We wanted to take this opportunity to shine a light on those apprentices and their employers that have demonstrated resilience, hard work and positivity through this experience.
The public sector has been an area we have recruited and trained an increasing number of apprentices in over the last few years; our client list including the NHS, Northampton Borough Council, LGSS and Northamptonshire Partnership Homes, to name but a few. In particular, we have worked closely with many GP practices across the county and currently have apprentices in around 12 medical centres locally, working predominantly in administration and customer service roles. During the pandemic, we have seen an increase in the opportunities for apprenticeships in practices, which has undoubtedly been a challenging time for the staff working in these busy surgeries.
When we asked our trainers to identify some of those apprentices that have shone through these difficult months, it was no surprise that some of the names put forward where those working in these environments.
Starting Off have been recruiting for the Greens Norton and Weedon Medical Practice for the past three years and in that time, we have seen seven apprentices placed, with the majority staying longer term and progressing in their job roles. The Practice Manager and team are incredibly supportive of the apprentices and work in great partnership with Starting Off.
Lula Phillips joined the practice in December 2019 as an administration apprentice and her trainer Lisa has highlighted how she has excelled through the coronavirus pandemic.
We asked Lula to tell us a little about her experience: “I work at the Greens Norton and Weedon Medical Practice and I am doing a Business Administration Apprenticeship with Starting Off. My experience at Starting Off has been educational and enjoyable; it was the perfect opportunity for me to work full-time while also gaining a Business Administration qualification. My experience of being an apprentice during the pandemic has been successful and advantageous, as I have been supported throughout by Starting Off. I’d recommend an apprenticeship with Starting Off because it allows you to learn, work and gain a recognised qualification.’
Her manager Elaine Stephens added: “Lula is a loyal and dedicated apprentice who has brought fresh perspectives to the team. She has quickly progressed through her training which we have had to adapt due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time Lula and I have welcomed the help and support provided by Starting Off.”
Lisa Lucas who is Trainer at Starting Off said: “Currently we have four active apprentices at the Greens Norton and Weedon Medical Centres who are all excelling in their apprenticeship programmes. Lula has adapted very well to the change in training delivery and remote style of learning without any hindrance. I am very proud of the determination and effort she is putting into her work.”
Summer, who works at Parklands Surgery in Rushden, has also been recognised for her outstanding work. She said: “For the past eight months, I have been more than fortunate to have had the opportunity of working at Parklands Surgery to complete my Level 3 Diploma in Business Administration. Throughout my apprenticeship I have worked closely with my trainers, Lisa and Chloe, at Starting Off, completing a range of assessments and task to my best ability with their constant support. During the pandemic, Chloe and Lisa carried out all visits via telephone and checked in with me a couple times a week to ensure I was getting on okay, and whenever I required further work to do, they were always more than happy to help me get set onto the next requirements.
“Working at Parklands Surgery during the pandemic has been an experience I will never forget. Being a patient-facing service, we had to adapt to so many changes and prioritise infection control, so we were able to offer the safest experience for our patients, as well as ourselves. Patient facing appointments quickly turned to telephone calls, but we never shut our doors or turned away the patients, which was lovely, as we still had human interaction. The support I have had from my manager, colleagues and Starting Off has been amazing and I have learnt so much in such little time.”
Practice Manager Mandy Hack said: “Employing an apprentice has been a new venture for us at Parklands Surgery. We felt it would be a good opportunity to provide a young person with training in all aspects of general practice administration. Starting Off were professional and supportive from our first contact, taking comprehensive details of our requirements and recommending applicants for interview.
“I recommend employing an apprentice with Starting Off. The course work given to Summer has been tailor-made to run alongside our training and she has been provided with excellent support and guidance along the way by Chloe and Lisa.”
Another sector where we have experienced excellent growth is IT. Starting Off now deliver the Level 3 IT Infrastructure Technician Course which is an excellent qualification for apprentices taking the first steps, or progressing in their job role, working in first and second line support, as a help desk technician or in infrastructure or network support. With many businesses working from home and the rise of virtual meetings, having excellent technical support is now a must.
The programme is looked after by IT trainer Linda Taylor, who has been with the business for seven years. Linda has put forward Tyler Reeve as her star apprentice.
Tyler said: “I am currently doing an IT apprenticeship with Socitm Advisory. At the start of the apprenticeship, I was going into Starting Off once a week to complete my work. However, due to the pandemic, my work had to be completed from home, with the entire company working remotely. The IT systems that Socitm Advisory and Starting Off use, enabled me to carry on with my apprenticeship with no issues.
“I would recommend anyone looking for an apprenticeship to contact Starting Off to start their career.”
Group IT Manager – Adam Goldsmith added: “Tyler joined our company during a period of vast growth. Tyler’s attitude and willingness to learn was exactly what we were looking for. During Tyler’s time, he has made a massive impact on our staff but also to the smooth running of the department. He was fortunate to take part in a large project for one of our clients and received amazing feedback from their HR team, as well as building on his skill set.”
Find out more about apprenticeships at Starting Off by contacting email@example.com or call 01604 622855