Ashfield District Council

"THE WORK ETHIC OF THE APPRENTICES WE’VE HAD IS ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL."

Ashfield District Council insists its apprentices are a “breath of fresh air” to the organisation.

The authority has taken on almost 15 trainees over the last two years, in roles spanning customer services, administration, IT, horticulture and maintenance.

This came after it joined forces with Vision Apprentices in a bid to equip more school and college-leavers with the skills and experience for their future careers.

Apprenticeships at the council are reserved exclusively for residents of Ashfield or neighbouring Mansfield – ensuring local young people benefit from the forward-thinking scheme.

Of its current crop, Kirkby teenager Josh Coke is close to completing a level 2 (intermediate) apprenticeship in business improvement techniques.

The 18-year-old (pictured centre) said: “I applied for lots of jobs after leaving college, but was always told I needed experience. So I started looking at apprenticeships instead, as a way of getting that experience while earning money at the same time.

“I spotted the vacancy through Vision Apprentices and thought this seemed like a really good place to work.

“There are often good progression opportunities within a council, providing you prove yourself – and that’s what I intend to do.”

Josh works as an improvement support trainee in the team that analyses how council services are delivered and, ultimately, how they measure-up.

The role sees him going into departments to conduct service reviews and then working with managers to implement agreed actions.

It involves inputting performance information into a database called Covalent – with Josh now firmly-established as the council’s ‘go-to’ person for colleagues needing help with the software.

He said: “I enjoy working with figures and I’m quite analytical, so it’s the ideal job for me. I work with everybody from managers and heads of service, all the way up to the chief executive.

“Some people might perceive that as being quite daunting for somebody my age, but it doesn’t faze me. You quickly build a rapport with your colleagues.”

Josh is now hoping to secure a permanent position as an improvement support officer after he completes his apprenticeship.

He said: “Coming here has been a brilliant decision. I genuinely enjoy coming to work every day and I’m part of a great team. I’d love to continue my career at the council and see where it takes me. There’s a lot to learn but, equally, I feel I’ve got a lot to offer.”

Corporate performance and improvement manager Jo Froggatt (pictured right) said: “Josh is a really bright individual who has the right attitude and work ethic to succeed.

“The fact I’ve been able to allocate review and improvement work for him to complete on his own, in such a short space of time, is testament to his maturity and ability to pick up new skills really quickly.

“Josh has also become something of an expert with the Covalent database. Not only has he helped us develop the system, he’s also the first port of call for staff that have any queries with using it.

“Bundle all that together and it shows how well he’s doing.”

Jo “completely advocates” apprenticeships, having begun her own career in a trainee role at the council more than 25 years ago.

She said: “Our apprentices are like a breath of fresh air; they bring a different outlook and new ideas about ways of delivering services. With an ageing workforce, it’s also important we recruit more young people into the organisation.

“We want to support younger members of our community to build-up their skills and experience in the workplace, so they’re in a really strong position for the future.”

Council leader Cllr Cheryl Butler (pictured left) said: “Apprenticeships are an investment in young people. Not everybody wants to go to university; some want to go straight into the world of work.

“There’s a place for graduates but there’s also a place for apprentices. Having a mixed talent pool really enriches the working environment.

“The work ethic of the apprentices we’ve had is absolutely phenomenal. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn is very impressive indeed.”

Urging other employers to consider the merits of taking on an apprentice, Cllr Butler said: “It benefits the individual and the organisation in equal measure, because they learn from each other.

“And if the apprentice is from the local area, then all the better – because it boosts jobs, skills and our economy.”

To find out more about the benefits of taking on an apprentice, call us on 0800 121 8317