Learning programme working wonders for employers

By Andy Passant

An innovative apprenticeship scheme is helping to give Teessiders the skills they need to succeed in the world of work.

Just ask Erin Cowling and Beth Hutt, whose career prospects look bright thanks to the invaluable training offered by Middlesbrough Council via the Middlesbrough Community Learning (MCL) Apprenticeship Programme.

Apprenticeships provide the opportunity to work for a real employer; earn a salary and gain a recognised qualification, whilst gaining and developing valuable workplace skills and experience.

Erin, 23, has worked for the children’s charity, Barnardo’s, for five years, while 18-year-old Beth is still undergoing her apprenticeship.

Erin, from Ingleby Barwick, said: “I started with Barnardo’s via my apprenticeship at 18, I completed my Level 2 Diploma and was given the opportunity to progress onto the Level 3, both of which I achieved.

“I was then offered a full-time position with Barnardo’s as a business administrator and have been here for just over five years.

“I strongly recommend an apprenticeship, especially via MCL. It has helped me realise where I might want my career to go in the future.”

Beth, from Middlesbrough, also successfully applied for an apprenticeship with MCL.

She said: “I didn’t really know a lot about apprenticeships but after discussing career opportunities with my Learning Advisor, I was successful in gaining an apprenticeship with Barnardo’s.

“I have achieved my Level 2 apprenticeship and I am moving onto Level 3, this has really helped me to develop my confidence.”

Barnardo’s SECOS Middlesbrough works with children and young people who have been victims of child sexual exploitation or abuse; it takes maturity and sensitivity to work in such an environment.

Martyn O’Riordan, senior locality administrator from Barnardo’s, said: “Working with MCL has been invaluable.

“The apprenticeship programme has worked for us as an organisation, both Erin and Beth have excelled. We have not only benefited from their enthusiasm but they bring new skills and ideas to the team.

“Our main work is with vulnerable young people who are at risk of exploitation or victims of exploitation or abuse. It is like a healing process. We give them coping strategies to work with.

“We do one-to-one engagements, group work and residential activities, confidence building and self-esteem. It is showing that there are people who won’t let them down because in some shape or form they have been.

“Part of the journey is trying to gain their trust and showing them the value of themselves. A lot of the young people that come in have lost hope. That is what we give them back.”

Ann White, apprenticeship and work skills coordinator for MCL, added: “Apprenticeships are a good opportunity for potential employers to see what each individual’s work is like, see if that young person fits into that environment and give them employability skills.

“Thanks to their training, Erin and Beth have been given marvellous opportunities and a wide variety of experience to take into the future. We really need good local employers like Barnardo’s.
“Apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to work in their local area and gain sustainable employment.

“As part of Middlesbrough Council, we have an inclusive and flexible approach to local business and the needs of the public. Our connections within the council allow us to offer advice to businesses on a number of issues and we can signpost to other services.

“We have recently been visiting local businesses to offer advice on the changes to apprenticeships, the apprenticeship levy, introduction of new apprenticeship standards and the opportunities for staff development.”

For more details about the apprenticeships and Middlesbrough Community Learning, contact Ann White on 01642 729678 or email ann.white@mcls.ac.uk. Or Kevin Sedgwick on 01642 654553 or email kevin.sedgwick@mcls.ac.uk

• Pictured (above): Apprentices Erin Cowling and Beth Hutt with Middlesbrough Community Learning’s apprenticeship and work skills coordinator Ann White, apprenticeship training advisor Kay Court and Martyn O’Riordan, senior locality administrator for Barnardo’s.


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