Barnet Council’s Chief Executive John Hooton has sung the praises of the many apprentices who are helping to keep the borough running despite the difficulties posed by COVID-19.
Thank you to Barnet’s apprentices
The council employs 93 apprentices in its schools, social care services, gardening and grounds work teams, street cleaning and rubbish collection departments, and back office roles. Mr Hooton spoke out during National Apprenticeship Week, an annual campaign to highlight the value that apprentices add to the UK workforce.
He said: “It’s great that we have been able to continue taking on apprentices. In fact, we now employ more than we did at this time last year. We’ve been able to help many people who otherwise may have struggled to find work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our apprentices – in the many roles they fulfil – help make Barnet a great place to live, work, study, and visit. They maintain our green spaces, work in our schools, provide social care, and ensure our streets are kept clean.
“It gives me great pleasure to see our apprentices develop in their roles and gain the skills and experience they need to stride forward in their careers.”
Apprenticeships offer a great way to ‘earn as you learn’ without personally funding a professional qualification. Instead, through the national Apprentice Levy scheme the council covers all costs to ensure its apprentices gain the qualifications they need to develop a career in their chosen sector.
Daniel Kenward took on an apprenticeship as a plumber on a building site in Finchley after joining Barnet Council’s Routes into Construction programme.
He said: “It was very tough during the pandemic lockdown. I was applying for apprenticeships but was not getting any response. I was over the moon when I got a call to say that I have an interview for an apprenticeship.”
He was guided through the process by Barnet Council’s Post 16 Education & Skills team
and now works for DMO Electrical & Mechanical Services.
He said: “I didn’t find it easy at first, but once I was shown what to do, then I was on a roll. I have worked with some highly experienced plumbers. They have treated me well and welcomed me into the team. You learn much more than you do at college from personal experience.”
It was extremely difficult for Stella Cooper to find a job during the first COVID-19 lockdown, as she had no previous work experience. However, after reading about Barnet’s apprenticeships in the council’s Barnet First e-newsletter, she contacted the BOOST employment support team and found herself a business administration position. They gave her a mock interview before her real one and helped her gain the skills she needed to be offered the role.
Stella said: “The apprenticeship has been extremely rewarding considering the circumstances. This is mainly because of the amazing support I have received from my managers and colleagues, which has allowed me to be hands on with the work I am doing – even if it has been from home. I am also learning a lot about housing through the training we are receiving once a week.
“At the moment it is quite difficult to communicate with colleagues and clients compared to if we were in the office. However, I am still gaining a lot of experience which I can apply to my future career.”
Barnet Council also runs a care leaver programme to help looked after children have the same opportunities in life as those who live with their birth families. The council – as their corporate parent – supports care leavers through apprenticeship roles that are set aside especially for them. The positions – as they become available – help them get a good start in life. Statistics show that 34% of care leavers were not in education, employment or training at the age of 19 compared to 15.5% of the general population. The care leaver scheme – which currently includes five apprenticeships – aims to help redress the balance.
Visit apprenticeships.gov.uk for more information.