Apprenticeship Blog

Ever wondered what it would be like to be an apprentice ? The following blogs and vlogs entries are from staff who have been involved in an apprenticeship, hear about the views, day to day and why apprenticeships work from apprentices as well as those who manage them;

Apprentice Profile – Elvis

Name- Elvis Gilbert
Apprenticeship title: Customer Service Apprentice
Directorate – Neighbourhoods and Housing 

Here is one of our apprentices Elvis, talking through his experience of starting an apprenticeship during a pandemic.

 

 

Apprentice Profile – Nej

Name- Nej Ozturk
Apprenticeship title- Service Support Apprentice
Directorate – ICT

Background

Before I applied for the apprenticeship I was raising my youngest daughter and thinking of my next steps but I felt as if I had so many hurdles to get past before I could see the light. I had been out of work for such a long time.

I had completed a Beauty Therapy course but at the same time, I was also caring for my father. I received my qualification in November 2016,  then in January 2017 the world felt like it had stopped, and my soul felt as if it just ripped out of me. I felt like a glass that had shattered into a thousand pieces and falling deeper and deeper into an unknown hole. That year I lost my father and laid him to rest.

What kind of work experience did you have up to this point?

Well, I wouldn’t know where to begin, being a full-time single mother for 3 children and a full-time carer for my father I was also able to gain experience in a few different fields. From being a receptionist for a textiles company, doing voluntary work at Jubilee Primary School, Turkish interpreting for the community, interpreting for The Petchey Academy and experience in administration but never something within the I.T industry.

Did you face any challenges? 

Yes, I did have to face challenges which I found very scary. “ Who would even give me an opportunity at my age? And even if I did get this position, How would I make the journey there and back? Would I be able to afford this?  What would I wear for my interview?” so these were my challenges.  The thought of me being out of the working industry and education, How will I be able to get back into it?  How is this going to work?  Is it going to be ok?

So yeah, I think I had quite a lot of challenges I was facing within myself. But, luckily the program that introduced me to the apprenticeship scheme also opened a lot of doors introduced me to many other things. This took away all the fears that I had for the challenges and I could begin my journey.

What made you choose an apprenticeship over going to university? 

I believe that apprenticeship schemes are so much better than a university in a way where you can get the real experience of what is happening within that field and the bonus is that you also get a qualification at the end of the apprenticeship. Whereas in university you get the qualification but you don’t get the opportunity to experience the real taste of what you’re studying.

How did you find out about the programme?

I found out about this program through the Jobcentre. The Jobcentre introduced me to Hackney Works. I signed up for email notifications and within the emails, that’s when I saw the apprenticeship scheme for Hackney. I picked up my daughter that day from school at 3:30 and told her we are going on a little journey to the town hall, packed her little packed lunch and off we went on the 106 bus to the town hall. I was so excited and so scared at the same time I just thought “Go and see what this is all about,”  I will never forget that day. The day I walked into that room, the day that changed my whole life around. I saw so many different stands. The first stand that drew my attention was financing because I really like numbers, so I went along with my little one and spoke to two gentlemen there about the finance section and what it’s all about.

After I had a look round  I saw the I.T section and I’ll never forget seeing a gentleman standing, who introduced himself as  Shakti. I asked him what I.T was all about.

He pointed to a lady that was sitting down and said that she would explain it to me. So I took a seat and introduced myself to a lady named Cate Downs, from there Cate explained ICT service support to me and what they were looking for and that this apprenticeship was part-time. I thought “Oh my god this is definitely for me! This is what I want to do.” I thought “This is so fantastic, this is great that Hackney Council has even introduced an apprenticeship that’s part-time for parents and carers”. So I decided there and then this is what I want to do and I want to go far. I already had a passion for I.T but I never knew anything about it. I took a leap and applied and that’s how my journey began.

Did you receive any support throughout the recruitment process?

I was surprised to see how much support was out there that I never knew about so, I received quite a lot of help, guidance and support. There are charity organisations that help people to get back into the working environment. The organisation Shaw Trust helped me with my application, CV and interview skills and they also helped with my travel fare at the end of the program.  I was given some vouchers at the end of it towards an option of the retailer which I thought was so nice. This program provider Shaw Trust was really fantastic; they also introduced me to The Women’s Foundation Trust.  They were excellent, they provided me with my interview clothes and kitted me out from top to bottom, that was really nice.

Have you got any tips on how to best approach the recruitment process?

I would say do the best that you can and go for it take a deep breath, exhale and just be yourself. If you fall then you fall but don’t be upset with yourself and don’t beat yourself up about it. Get your feedback and see what you can work on and work on it. Get back in there again. Don’t let anyone knock you down, always get back up because your opportunity will be there to grab.

Why an apprenticeship with Hackney Council?

I was born and raised in Hackney. I was born in Homerton Hospital, I lived in Nightingale and now I live in Stoke Newington. I’ve been here all my life, I’ve worked in my community alongside schools, GP’s, hospitals, coroner’s offices. So being born in Hackney, I’m just so happy that I can be a part of Hackney Council and I can give back to my community in a larger way.

 

Apprentice Profile – Adam

Name- Adam Tracy
Apprenticeship title- IS Business Analysis
Directorate-Finance & Corporate Resources

Background

After finishing high school I was very uncertain about where I wanted to proceed with my life. I liked problem solving and technology, but I hadn’t had enough hands-on experience to really know what I’d enjoy in a career. I backed out of a computer science and philosophy degree at the last minute and worked as a meter reader for a year as I reconsidered. The next year I went to study Product Design Engineering at Strathclyde University. There I started to notice areas that I liked more than others. I was keen on problem-solving, on understanding people’s needs, understanding processes, and on working with digital technology. I didn’t enjoy the limitations of working with physical products – it’s a much more rigid and slow-paced process than the agile-scrum style that’s becoming increasingly common in IT. I also realised at this point that I’m strongly motivated by doing work that has some benefit for others; for my community.

Day to Day

Since starting, I’ve been on projects which I know are set to have a positive impact on people’s work. The trend is using current technologies to replace older, more difficult or tedious ways of working. There’s conversations with users and stakeholders to understand their desires and needs, analysing processes to look for scope to improve them, and generally making the most of what current technology can provide. It’s interesting work with beneficial results, where I’m also developing skills in current technologies to give opportunities to develop my career – it’s all I could want.
The apprenticeship structure allows for 20% of work time to be spent learning material related to IS Business Analysis directly, outside the working environment. I’ve found taking a day each week for this very helpful – it gives me time over each week to digest the material and to think about how it could be applied at work.

Why this role?

The apprenticeship in Hackney was great for me. It gave me an introduction to the world of IT in one of the most digitally progressive councils. I’ve enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had here to further my IT knowledge and technical skills, like computer programming. Business Analysis involves understanding and improving processes, and within the IT sphere, can benefit from developing IT-related skills and knowledge, which I’ve found really engaging and motivating. BA also very often involves finding solutions that benefit people’s daily lives, and this is especially true within a council rather than a for-profit organisation.

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?
The constant opportunities to learn. Because Hackney is technologically progressive, there is a drive to move from older technologies to newer ones, which means that much of the skills and knowledge that I develop will remain current. Many projects make use of new technologies and involve exploration of them as part of the process.

Next Steps

As I continue through my apprenticeship I’m sure I’ll continue to develop an appreciation and understanding of the variety of career paths available in IT, as well as feeling out areas that I
would particularly enjoy developing my career towards. Hackney Council has shown itself to be a very good workplace for IT so I expect that I’ll be keen to seek opportunities there towards the end of my apprenticeship, as well as potentially other public sector employers.

Apprentice Manager Profile – Eoin

Below is a vlog for one of our apprentice managers, Eoin Quiery who is a Strategic Business manager but also manages a number of management apprentices as well as the NGDP management trainees.  Click the following link to hear what he has to say about the management apprenticeship the council offers!

Apprentice Profile – Julian

Julian Blog pic

Name- Julian Layton

Apprenticeship title- People and Product Apprentice 

Directorate-Finance & Corporate Resources

Background

I spent the first 25 years of my life living in the land of Lord of the Rings – New Zealand. I then jumped across the ditch to live in Australia, where I ended up living for 6 years amongst all things trying to kill me. I even adopted a saltwater crocodile and python, which is when I realised I was becoming too Australian and had to set sail again to where my ancestry is from, the UK!

As a mature aged apprentice, I have a fair variety of work experience thus far. Mostly this has been in engineering and construction as a draughtsman, geotechnician / dirt doctor, engineering surveyor and a telecommunications technician. A highlight of my career in construction was working on one of the largest projects in Australian history, where it began as a huge pile of dirt, to a fully functional and operational LNG processing plant. Although it was a satisfying experience to see the project cross the finish line, it came with many challenges. I was working 6 or 7 days a week, doing 12 hour days in 40+ degree heat, constantly managing safety within our teams as much of the work was very high risk.

Before I started here at Hackney Council, I was working as a Surveyor around many interesting and unusual sites throughout London. One in particular, was creating a 3D survey of the obsolete underground Royal Mail tunnel, which was built 100 years ago to deliver mail from one side of London to the other. The reason for this was due to traffic congestion. Yes, you read that right, even 100 years ago there was traffic congestion in London!
After being on furlough for a few months last year, I decided for a career change from construction to IT as a long-term plan. There were a few reasons for this. I have always had a passion for IT and technology, and felt like I had hit a dead-end in my current industry. There is so much to learn and room to grow as a professional in the IT industry, it almost felt like diving into the abyss and the great unknown, which excites me. I also believe in learning as an iterative and practical process. You can sit in a class all day at university, but if you’re not using the skills in practice, it won’t stick.
While searching for a new role, I came across Hackney’s apprenticeship scheme, and it looked like the perfect opportunity. Learning, working, earning and being able to have a positive impact on the Hackney community.

Day To Day

As I have only been onboard now for a few months, it is hard to say exactly what the day to day routine looks like. So far, there has been plenty of support from my mentor, colleagues and fellow apprentices with gaining an understanding of current applications and processes. I also feel like I have gained an understanding of where we want to go as an organisation, which is an overall modernisation of technology in particular moving to cloud based apps and infrastructure. I really appreciate the project transparency that HackIT promotes, and on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, various teams present their project progress updates for anyone who is interested. You can use Slack and Google Currents to learn about other projects and collaborate with different teams. There are also plenty of opportunities to have a general chat with colleagues, just like you would in the office. As a team, we have been using agile methodologies like scrum to manage our projects,
which has been a refreshing change from the more traditional waterfall approach in construction. Most of our meetings are done virtually, which, apart from the occasional technical disruption, works really well!

Challenges, Advice and the Future:

One of the challenges I have faced thus far, one of which we have all faced, is adapting to the changes that the coronavirus has created. It was quite hard to get an understanding of what “business as usual” is like at Hackney Council, as we aren’t in the office. Nevertheless I have been amazed at how well we are all able to collaborate in teams and be so productive when working from home. Most importantly, the commute from the bedroom to the living room is a much more enjoyable experience than what we once had to endure. One piece of advice I would give to other apprentices is what was kindly given to me, so I will pass it on. Be patient with yourself, you can’t expect to know everything straight away. Embrace your time as an apprentice and allow yourself to learn by failing. In the past few months since starting, I feel like I have already learnt so much, but I also know there is still a lot to learn. I am excited for 2021 and the challenges it will bring. And let’s be honest, if it’s
not a better year than 2020, then we are definitely doing something wrong!

Apprentice Profile – Jasmine

Name- Jasmine Martins 

Apprenticeship title- Hackney Management Apprentice

Directorate- Chief Executive’s Directorate 

Background

I have a background in politics having been a campaigner in my local community, advocating for increased youth engagement in local democracy and improvements to local housing. My passion for politics stems from my own personal background – I’ve been a carer for my mother since the age of eight and knew I wanted to do something that would change my local community and improve the lives of young people like myself. Throughout my youth, it’s been a challenge balancing my caring responsibilities with my education and past job roles. Coming from a single parent household, I became the sole breadwinner when my mother fell sick and was eventually diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I was in the middle of completing my undergraduate degree when I made the choice to suspend my studies and care for my mother full time. For a very long time, I felt emotionally drained and broken – anyone who knows me knows how much I thrive and throw myself into education so to not have this safety net during a moment in my life where things were tumultuous was extremely tough. My mother responded well to treatment and recently received the all clear after five years in remission. During her recovery period, the year I had taken out put so many things into perspective for me such as the importance of family and mental health. I was able to resume my undergraduate degree and graduated with a 2:1 in History and Politics. 

Before starting my role as a Management Apprentice, I spent some time working in Parliament as an intern. My role included writing policy responses, answering casework and writing press releases. I then moved onto working for Greenpeace as a Digital Mobilisation and Social Media Intern where I was responsible for managing the organisation’s social media accounts. I had a great time in both roles, as I was able to utilise my political experience whilst learning new skills, from Photoshop to even coding! My passion and my personal experiences allowed me to resonate with the constituents and stakeholders I was constantly in contact with and it was always a pleasure to see the impact I was able to have on other people’s lives. 

I’m currently in the final phase of my MSc Government, Politics and Policy degree in which I am writing my dissertation on the lack of culturally diverse foods in food banks and food aid organisations and assessing the implications on low income Black, Asian and ethnic minority families.

Day to day 

Prior to lockdown, my daily routine would be as follows:

6am: Wake up, meditation, shower

7:45am: Leave the house for a 1 hour commute

8:45am: Arrive at the office, settle down, make some breakfast and a morning cuppa. 

9am: Check and respond to emails. 

Rest of the day: Meetings, report writing, check-ins with manager, apprenticeship work

At the moment, the routine is pretty much the same (besides the 6am wake up, one of the perks of working from home, you eliminate your commute time!). All my meetings with colleagues and external stakeholders are now done online which doesn’t feel too weird. One of the good things about Hackney and my role is that there is flexibility to allow remote working which I did for one day a week before lockdown so I’m used to utilising online tools to stay connected. The only thing that was weird was starting in a new team and getting to know everyone!

The nature of my apprenticeship means for the duration I get to rotate roles and be part of different teams. So far I’ve conducted projects with the Policy and Strategy team and I am now in the Area Regeneration team where I’ve done some work around business engagement and supporting the Council’s response to COVID-19. 

Why this role?

I was born and raised in Hackney; I’ve always tried to work with friends and my neighbours to make our local community a better place to live. My passion and political background was so widely known I became the unofficial spokesperson for my neighbourhood! It was more so important as living in Shoreditch, I had seen before my very eyes just how much my home had changed. It had become distant, with high rises, and the area becoming the centre of London night-life. When I saw the vacancy for my role, and with my interest in politics, I knew this was an opportunity for me to be able to influence change. Having worked in Parliament, I wanted to know more about working for a local authority and how the work different teams do is linked to the Mayor’s priorities and the Council’s core values.

Working on different projects with different teams across the Council, from managing our response to Brexit to looking at how the Community Development Fund is used, I’ve been able to work with residents and make contributions to wider policy work. This role has been enjoyable and challenging (in a good way) as I’ve never been in a management position before. To be able to manage resources effectively and be trusted to be responsible for developing strategy aims and objectives is honestly a privilege. It really feels I am able to give back to the community that raised me whilst contributing my experiences and history as a Hackney resident. 

The apprenticeship qualification I am doing is a Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager and the training provider, Hawk, has also been extremely supportive. The apprenticeship study covers three themes: Personal Development, Interpersonal Excellence and Operational Performance. The experience I have gained since starting the apprenticeship has been well suited to the learning objectives in my apprenticeship programme which means it’s really easy to document the work I’m doing and provide context as to how I am becoming an effective manager and leader.  

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

So many things! From my colleagues, to my line manager to the apprenticeship team, everyone is so supportive and encouraging, it honestly feels like I am part of a big family. If you feel stressed or overwhelmed with deadlines, there is always someone who wants to help and you’re then able to delegate some of the workload. There are also days where things are slow-moving and managers have been great to find projects which you can work on.

Especially since the pandemic, there are moments where things need to move quickly or you have to prioritise an emergency piece of work that is a corporate priority, but it has all been part of the learning process, knowing how to manage deadlines and make use of support networks. I’ve enjoyed working with residents and improving my communication skills. You can really see how valued residents and businesses feel when you engage them in important pieces of work. 

During the apprenticeship, there is also opportunity to take on mini placements, for instance I did a one week placement with the Building & Maintenance team as a surveyor and it was so fascinating! Surveyors are basically building doctors and it was interesting to shadow and participate in how surveyors decipher what causes damp or leakages and the steps required to resolve disrepairs. 

The Management Apprenticeship really gives you an overview of how the Council works and the importance of each and every team to ensure services delivered to residents and businesses are of an excellent standard. 

Hackney Council as a learning environment?

At Hackney, there are so many resources available to keep on top of your learning and skills. The HR team provides internal training on a variety of skills, from managing a team to working in an agile environment. The training I’ve done so far has been really helpful and has aligned with the learning provided by Hawk. Any training or learning you undertake is part of your overall development, so I am able to log any new skills or piece of knowledge into my Off the Job learning on ETrack, a platform that allows you to add to your portfolio and keep on top of your required 20% learning. 

I’ve also participated in external training and workshops, some of which are hosted by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the London Business Forum. Colleagues also make use of Google+ where people across the Council are able to share information of the projects they’re working on and invite contributions. I attended an event hosted by the London Business Forum a few months ago which was all about how to influence and the steps required to influence your team and achieve team objectives. After the event, I wrote a blog post on what I learnt and how teams can use the techniques and I received great feedback!

Other learning opportunities include a senior mentor, who is usually a Head of Service and you meet once a month and discuss pretty much everything and anything! Let’s Network Hackney is also a great internal platform where you can meet up with people who work in all areas of the Council and understand how it functions, and improve on your networking skills. 

Next steps?

I’d love to stay on at Hackney either in the same area of work I’m doing now or in other areas of interest including Employment and Skills, Housing and Adult Social Care. My line manager has been supportive in encouraging me to speak to different people who work in these areas and arranging shadowing opportunities. These have been helpful to get a flavour of the type of work that is involved and meeting colleagues, external stakeholders and being exposed to senior management. 

If you are considering an apprenticeship at Hackney, consider no more and apply right now! It is a life changing experience that you won’t regret. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I applied for this role and considering the talent of people who applied, I honestly didn’t think I’d be where I am today. I am so glad I applied and one tip I would give is to be open and honest – no matter what you are going through or what feels like a barrier in your life, your experiences are opportunities you can use to be a force for change, not just in yourself but in the lives of others. Hackney is a fantastic place to live and work and believe me, it beats working in Parliament!

Apprentice Profile – Hidayat

Name:  Hidayat Deen

Apprenticeship title: ICT Delivery Manager Apprentice

Directorate- ICT

Background

I’m Hidayat Deen, and I’m doing a Level 4 foundation degree apprenticeship in IT Delivery Management. The course I’m studying for is IT Project Management, over a duration of 18 months. Prior to this apprenticeship I was a student in a sixth form in Hackney – The City Academy, studying Business BTEC and IT.

Day to day

There’s no easy way to answer this question, the work varies very often even if you are working on the same project. One day you can be helping with conducting research on your users and the next you can be facilitating sessions to help your team become self organised and more efficient than they already are.

As a Delivery Manager Apprentice I tend to support the Delivery Manager on a project. These projects are set up to help the council become more efficient in helping the residents or we help multifunctional teams work together to create services for residents.

Why this role?

My interest in this role stemmed from when I was briefly studying IT Project Management whilst I was at sixth form. I was intrigued to see what this role entails and what part they play in an IT department. I have been exposed to another project management methodology during college, known as PRINCE2. So out of curiosity I wanted to know more about Agile – the methodology Hackney Council uses.

In all honesty I wasn’t sure if this is what I wanted to do but my interest is in IT and this role was in IT, I thought why not give it a go. Especially because I was certain of wanting to work in the council, hoping that my work would impact the borough I’ve grown up in. Even if it’s a small impact.

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

There are several things that stand out about this apprenticeship but for me personally, it’s the opportunity to grow as a young professional individual. As it’s my first time in a working environment, I knew I was bound to make mistakes but I wasn’t afraid to give things a go –
this mindset was developed through the encouragement of my colleagues, especially my wonderful team. They all created a safe space for me to attempt tasks, learn from my mistakes and share my learnings through presentations – one of my weaknesses of which the team have been helping me with.

I communicated the skills I currently lack or would like to improve on and my team have specifically looked at tasks, projects and self development opportunities that link directly to those skills. It’s definitely shown through the way I present myself with confidence and the
standard of work I produce compared to when I had first started.

Hackney Council as a learning environment?

Most apprentices go to college for a short period of time or will have a study day(s) as part of the 20% study time apprentices need to have. This 20% helps us gain more theoretical knowledge, of which we can then apply to our work – which is the other 80%.

As mentioned before, the environment is very healthy for individuals who want to learn and improve. The  apprenticeship team, colleges and managers at Hackney ensure we get our study time. I personally have regular check ins with my manager who helps me set targets on a weekly/fortnightly and quarterly basis. Not only does it provide me with a progress check, it helps me communicate to my manager what I want to specifically learn and focus on.

The learning environment isn’t just built for apprentices; we have lots of in-house workshops for permanent staff members to attend. These workshops are based on developing skills as professional individuals, the kind of skills that can help you become better at your role.

Next steps?

I have decided that I’d like to carry on in this role. That might involve progressing to a Level 6 apprenticeship – which is the full degree. I hope to remain within the council as I’d love to carry on serving the borough. I want to help improve it and what better way than the council.

A massive thank you to my fellow colleagues, fellow apprentices, the apprenticeship team and my tutor who have helped me on my journey as a young professional even though the journey isn’t over yet. Thank you all for taking the time to read this.

Apprentice Profile – Emmanuel

Name- Emmanuel West

Apprenticeship title- Surveying Technician Apprentice (Building pathway) 

Directorate-Neighbourhoods and Housing

Background

Sports Athlete – Full Time footballer – Retired 

Day to day

– Giving advice to clients and colleagues on projects 

-Determine the condition of existing building, identifying and analyse defects, including proposal for repair

-Negotiate dilapidation

-Drawings of floor plans 

-Advise on health and safety of buildings

-Data management of buildings 

-Site visit and surveys of works that are completed with any amendments  

Why this role?

Before I retired from football I always thought about life after football, and I always wanted to go into the construction industry. I took a liking to the role of a Surveyor from a young age. As the construction industry is and will be growing on a huge scale in the coming years, becoming a Building Surveyor for Hackney would teach me the vital information about the construction industry, giving me the knowledge to handle the rapid increase of construction growth. 

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

The best thing about my apprenticeship is it gives me the freedom to learn whilst completing and taking part in projects that will have a positive effect for the general public, making their lives a lot better.

Hackney Council as a learning environment?

Due to Hackney Council having a diverse range of work there isn’t a day that goes by where I do not learn something, whether it be with the Surveyor or the electric and gas team. I am constantly receiving a huge range of information about buildings and what consists within a building. 

Next steps?

My next step is to complete my apprenticeship and become accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). I am hoping to move onto a level 6 degree apprenticeship (chartered level) with Hackney which will consist of another 4 years of studying. Progressing onto the Level 6 will help towards my career goal of incorporating my past and my present together to build the future.

Apprentice Profile – Sam

Name: Sam Clare

Apprenticeship title: ICT Support Apprentice

Directorate- Finance and Corporate

Background

I did terribly in school only getting two D’s and an E (blame the undiagnosed ADHD) and went on to do a BTEC 1st in Performing Arts which I left after a few months. In one of the classes about the acting business we found out that actors spend 80% of their working lives not working, which prompted me to quit and embark on a career in IT. I went on to do a GNVQ II in Computer Applications which was a one year course I managed to complete in 6 months (remember DOS, Word Perfect and Database 3?). I went on to do a level III but unfortunately couldn’t complete it.

I got my first proper job in a Kings Cross pub, then Peacocks in Dalston – a chain of book shops in the West end where I helped with mail order and scanned book covers for the website (that didn’t last long because…well…Amazon). Then it was on to my most tongue twisty role: I was the Digital Communications Communications Coordinator for the Institute of Chartered Accountants In England and Wales. I got married, suffered depression, drank too much, became addicted to multiplayer computer games, gave up my job and got divorced all in the space of 2 years.

Once I picked myself back up I decided to find a career that would help people and the planet so I became a street fundraiser working for over 11+ charities including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and Actionaid. I have an Amnesty International tattoo on my left forearm. Then a few months at University which I left to go and camp outside Parliament for a few months opposing the war in Afghanistan (remember Democracy Village in 2010?) Then a bout of retail jobs and just when I thought I had found the one Maplin’s went under and now here I am.

Day to day

My mission every day is to make sure Council employees are able to access their computer systems and applications so they can work trouble free and as effectively as possible. I spend most of my time diagnosing and resolving IT issues, changing passwords, setting up accounts, creating and managing telephone profiles, resolving mobile phone faults, promoting and supporting the use of collaborative tools, supporting those that are remote working and being a helping hand for those who are not comfortable or experienced with IT. I understand that some people are scared of computers, I suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns) so there’s no need to be embarrassed – it’s ok, that’s why we are here.

Why this role?

I am a big nerd at heart and love all things tech, also having worked in customer services for a number of years and I really like working with the public so combining the two makes for a job that I really enjoy. I have a symbiotic relationship with computers that transcends human biological function, in other words I am part machine (I had a heart valve replaced last year, now I am a Cyborg). I have also been living in Hackney for 35+ years and would like to serve my community, or in my case serve the people that serve the community. It brings me a great sense of pride working for Hackney and is a good reason to do the best I can.

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

I think the best thing about the apprenticeship programme is the opportunity it gives local people, from all ages, abilities and backgrounds looking for a career helping the local community. There is a sense of comradery between apprentices and the support from our managers and the apprenticeship team has been outstanding. It feels more like working with family than other co-workers.

Hackney Council as a learning environment

Hackney is a great place to work and learn. I am constantly learning new skills relevant to my role, the great new technologies being built by the HackIT team and how the Council is run. When I started working here the Customer Service Course was fantastic and the Google Admin one was equally as interesting. The thing I learn from the most is other people both in my team and in other teams. People are always willing to teach new things, including senior management which I am not used to. Having senior managers that are happy to help gives you real faith in leadership.

Next steps

The great thing about being an apprentice at Hackney is that there are so many choices and a lot of support from managers, colleagues and the apprenticeship team. For me, one thing is certain: that I want to work for the Council and am even thinking as far ahead as retirement and leaving a legacy. I guess this is what happens when you are around so many nice, supportive and inspiring people. My only issue at the moment is choosing whether to pursue another apprenticeship at Hackney that leads to my dream career or to continue doing something I truly love.

I am sure I can speak for all of us apprentices in thanking Mayor Glanville for creating the Apprenticeship Programme and giving people like us the opportunity to work for the borough we love. I (heart) Hackney.

Apprentice Profile – Cleo

Name- Cleo Lewis

Apprenticeship title- Customer Service Agent Apprentice

Directorate- Neighbourhoods and Housing

Background

After I finished my A-Levels, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. I secured a place at Winchester University to study Media and Production, but I deferred my place for a year. During the summer after my A-Levels, I started an apprenticeship with Greggs in Food Retail. The experience was amazing, not only did I have access to good food, but my customer service skills developed and I became a team leader as part of the course, which helped to build my management experience. I decided I wasn’t going to Winchester, as media was not my calling, customer service was. After two  years, I started working for Metro Bank as a cashier. This had pros and cons, pros being meeting new people, understanding the banking world and cons being that this particular bank was open 7 days a week. I left Metro after a year as I got pregnant with my now one year old daughter Keliylah and wanted time away from the working world during my pregnancy. I was definitely keen to get back to working once Keliylah was around 9 Months old and found the Hackney Apprenticeship in Customer Services. I couldn’t think of a better place for me to work. Not only is it based locally, but it was in the career I wanted to pursue. Once I applied, I was invited to the screening day and finally the interview. My new manager contacted me in the afternoon on the same day I passed my driving test to tell me I was successful, this was a pretty great start to the new year.

Day to day

I start work at 9am after the nursery run. I get in at about 8:30am, just enough time for some breakfast and a cuppa. In the Contact Centre, we have an agent system that we log onto which allows the residents called to be passed through to us. At 9.01am the first call of the day comes through, this could be a call regarding rent, leaseholder queries or even to report a repair. Working in the Hackney Neighbourhood Contact Centre has allowed me to liaise with many different departments. The advantage of this is that I can gain an insight into what the relevant departments specialise in and therefore build on my knowledge of the council.  

One day a week which equates to 20%  of my working week is dedicated to the theoretical side of the apprenticeship. I don’t need to go to a college, but I can spend time away from my desk at the library or any other quiet space to allow me to do my coursework. Once a month my assessor comes to Hackney to discuss my progress, carry out observations and find out if I need any additional support.

I also use this time to be practical in self development. This could be booking onto training courses, which has allowed me to become a qualified first aider, learn administration within the contact centre such as sending mail and making sure we have relevant, up to date packs for us to send out. The 20% time has really helped me to develop in my role and has given me advantages I may not have had being an apprentice.  

Why this role?

Customer service is something I have always been passionate about. From when I started my first role at Greggs, whether it was resolving a customer complaint or receiving feedback, I really enjoyed working with customers. I saw the customer service role at Hackney as a great opportunity where I can use the problem solving skills that had been developed from my time at Metro Bank and being able to multitask (as that is a must in motherhood), I knew this was the role for me.  

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

For me, the best thing by far is the colleagues I have. When starting a new job it’s always nerve racking, but the contact centre team made me feel so welcome. When it came to training, every one played a part in teaching me without hesitation. I feel this is the reason I am confident in my role now, because I learned from everyone in my team rather than a screen and one person. Being an apprentice has its advantages, not just the qualification at the end or being a part of the public sector, but things such as, networking events, development days and award ceremonies. This year I am lucky enough to be co-hosting the apprenticeship awards 2020 and I am really looking forward to it. 

Hackney Council as a learning environment?

I love Hackney, not just as a work place but as my home town. As Hackney changes and grows I feel all my surroundings are a learning environment. Being an apprentice at Hackney Council is great, everyone is so supportive and really encouraging. No matter what department you are in, we all receive updates on what’s going on within the council. I find this really useful so we can see how different changes may impact our department. I really like how multicultural Hackney is. During my time here, I have been to Black History Month events, seen the Hanukkah candles and the beautiful lights at christmas. Hackney is definitely a place for everyone!

Next steps

Now that I have completed the apprenticeship, I look forward to exploring new opportunities that may arise. In October this year, I look forward to doing the level 5 apprenticeship in management which will further develop my skills and career goals. 

Apprentice Profile – Micah

Name: Micah J Etienne

Apprenticeship title: Application Support Apprentice

Directorate- ICT

Background

After I finished my A-Levels, always being interested in Media and technology I was leaning towards the route of university and studying digital design, but my career adviser gave me another option to think about, which was an apprenticeship. Being given the pros and cons of both options, I made the choice to do an apprenticeship where I was able to gain the skill and knowledge of digital design and marketing whilst earning. I was working for MyVoucherCodes for two and a half years and loved my work for the most part, however, I felt I needed a change of challenges  and opportunities in order to keep growing. I saw an advert for apprentice opportunities in Hackney Council and thought that an IT role was something that was just right for me as well as being able to contribute to the development of my borough. After applying and going through a nerve-racking interview, I got the job as an Application Support Apprentice. I am still happily working with the same team. 

Day to day

My day typically starts at 9:00am with me being on hand to keep the applications that a large portion of the council operate, working as it should be and to fix any issues that users may have. Since starting at Hackney Council I have been privileged enough to work with so many teams on different projects and tasks. It was important for my manager and myself to make sure that I have a holistic view when doing my job, so being exposed to different environments and people has allowed me to fulfill my work an effective way, that not only made me but also the people I work with, happy. One of the projects I was involved with was pushing Single Sign-On (SSO) for the council. This involved me conducting research, volunteer testing for the SSO functions, organising meetings and bi-weekly show and tell presentations to involve and inform as many colleagues in the project. Projects such as that one have given me the necessary skills to carry out my work confidently as well as giving me more opportunities for other projects in the future. One day a week (20%) of my time at work is dedicated to the college side of the apprenticeship which saw me go to college once a month to meet with my assessor and use the remainder of the Thursdays for self development. This included collecting evidence related to my role and exams that tested my skills acquired at work. Having a day away from work to focus on my skills really helped me to work on my organisation skills and keep my enthusiasm to learn something new.  

Why this role?

IT is something I’ve had a growing interest in so when I saw this role when looking through the apprenticeships, it stood out to me amongst the rest. I had some basic skills in IT, but really wanted to expand that knowledge and make a career out of it. I get a lot of joy by helping people, so this specific role was especially appealing to me when deciding which one I would apply for. Knowing that getting a qualification is important when it comes to this field of work, I knew how essential it was for me to do an apprenticeship in IT, helping me to be work ready after getting the qualification. 

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

I think for me, the best thing has been being able to experience so many different things. I was able to visit other companies like Amazon to gain insight on how their apprenticeship scheme is operated, as well as being able to network with other employers/employees alike. I was able to co-host the Annual Apprenticeship awards which was an amazing evening. I love the freedom I have been given to go and get involved in talks with Cllr Williams in helping to open the way for other businesses to adopt the apprenticeship scheme, working with other teams and probably the best part, being able to catch up with other apprentices and being around people in the same situation as myself. It’s been a lot of fun.     

Hackney Council as a learning environment

It has been fantastic for me being an apprentice at Hackney Council. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I was given was far beyond my expectations. Everyone was so welcoming and helped me with any issues I had, as well as having a wonderful support system with the apprenticeship team. To be in Hackney Council is to learn everyday. There hasn’t been a moment I haven’t learned something, whether that be directly related to my role, or the plans for the future of the borough. My manager has continually pushed me to keep learning and push myself to be better each day and has regular checks ins with me, which I greatly appreciate.

Next steps

Now that I have completed the apprenticeship, I have more time to collaborate with other teams for more projects and find new ways to keep Hackney developing for the future. I am looking forward to continuing to pursue a career in IT and hopefully do this with Hackney or another organisation, possibly within a different sector, such as delivery.   

Apprentice Profile – Sarah

Name- Sarah Slade

Apprenticeship title- Project Management Apprentice (part-time)

Directorate- Parking and Markets Service

Background

After I completed my A- levels I was unsure what I wanted to do for a career and had a few jobs mostly in administrative roles where I realised that I was very organised and was able to coordinate multiple tasks successfully. For the past 10 years I have been working within the NHS and my last position was as a clinical coordinator for a GP practice. In this role I had some experience at working on small projects and this is when I realised that I wanted to pursue this more in the future. When I saw the job advert to be a project management apprentice in Hackney I knew that this was the perfect opportunity for me. The role was part time which was perfect as I have a young family but also allowed me to gain a qualification whilst working and earning. I applied, and after attending an assessment day and interview, I got the job as a Project Management Apprentice. I now work within the policy team for the Parking and Markets Services.

Day to day

My typical day starts at 9.30am at the office and each day varies greatly depending on what projects and tasks I am working on. I work within a team of 5 and we all work very closely together and support each other. As a team we follow our individual and shared tasks on the groups trello board and also follow the progression of projects on gantt charts which list important deadlines. Since starting, my tasks have included supporting other team members but also tasks for which I have complete responsibility for. I have been involved with planning ad campaigns, benchmarking strategies and working on upcoming public consultations. The work is always varied and covers a wide range of skills necessary for project management. 20% of my work time is set aside for apprenticeship related work such as writing reports and collecting evidence. I usually work out at the beginning of the week when I will do this as I can see where there is space in my diary for studying. It really helps to have this time blocked out of the diary so I know that it is protected time. My work day usually ends at 3pm which means that I can be home in time to pick my children up from school.

Why this role?

I feel like my previous experience has given me a good idea of what my skills are and what role would suit me. I have always been good at organising and planning and have ended up doing this in most of my previous roles. I wanted to build on these skills but also learn the other necessary requirements for working on projects. Without direct experience at working on projects in the past, I knew that it would be difficult to get a job in this field. I had never considered an apprenticeship before because I always had the belief that they were for school leavers but upon applying and getting this position I have realised that this is not the case. My apprenticeship is a level 4, which means that I am not starting from scratch and can use my existing experience and skills. Upon completing my apprenticeship I will be accredited by a recognised body for project management associates and have experience of working on projects for a large London borough.

What is the best thing about this Apprenticeship?

The best thing about my role so far is the variety of my work and the different projects that I have been involved with. Having many projects to work on at the same time means that each day is different and work is always interesting.

Hackney Council as a learning environment

The apprenticeship for me has been a great opportunity to work and gain experience in a field that I was new to. The apprentice team are always available to help and support you should you need it and there are also many opportunities to get involved with other activities and network within the council. What I really like about Hackney council is that as an employer they always want to help staff to develop their skills and offer so much guidance, training and support. Since I started I have taken many free courses that are available to staff including report writing and project management essentials. My managers actively encourage me to keep learning and developing myself and all Hackney staff have regular check ins with their managers to work on their personal development.

Next steps

Now that I have had the chance to work on projects for the council it has strengthened my desire to continue doing this in the future. I really enjoy being able to work on projects that can change the environment for the better and have an impact on people’s lives. When I have completed my apprenticeship I will look for roles where I can continue to do this work, hopefully within Hackney or another London borough but possibly within other sectors such as transport.

Apprentice Profile – Humairaa

Name: Humairaa Mulla

Apprenticeship Title: Software Developer

Directorate- ICT

Background

I completed A-level Maths, ICT and Health and Social Care in 2018.  I then did a placement on the Hackney 100 scheme during the summer holidays with the Strategic Property Services department which was an amazing experience as I got to learn how to use software such as Cedar. Cedar is an application used to track residents yearly rent and allow us to send tenants invoice via email or post. I was also required to talk to residents over the phone to ensure that their rent accounts were up to date. This helped build my communication and confidence skills. I then decided to apply for the software developer apprenticeship and after the interview the team welcomed me to a new world which is challenging and exciting at the same time. 

Day to day

I am currently working on LanDesk Calls assigned to my team, LanDesk incidents and requests raised by users in the LBH, these calls are solved through user-visit or telephone conversation. For example, if the user is facing a problem with one of the HR e-forms, I then call the user to ensure they are accessing the form in the correct manner, this can be done through remote access or visiting the user and providing the help required.

I have also worked on a HR Project which involved making improvements to the form. The form I am currently making improvements to is a Post and Payroll form. This involves complex calculation changes and ensuring the form works as required by the user. I am currently working on this form on the development environment, this allows me to play around with the Javascript Code and also ensure the form works as required before making it live. When I make a change on the development environment, I ask various users to test the form and ensure it is correct, this helps to keep the user happy whilst also making it clear to me what has been completed and what needs to be completed.  

In order to plan my tasks, I use my calendar as well as the Trello board. In Trello I have different tasks which I need to complete and once they are complete I move it along to testing and if it has been completed correctly then the user would move it to done. I have added a picture below to show an example of one of my trello board:

College time

I attend work for eight consecutive weeks, then go to college for one week, during my time at college I am taught one module and also get time to work on the coursework/exam for the module. This is very helpful for me as I prefer to work on my coursework whilst at college as I can get the help I need from the lecturers. I can also book time with lectures during my time at work to get help on my coursework, this allows me to use my time wisely and ensure that I get my coursework submitted and meet the project deadlines on time. 

What is the best thing about the apprenticeship?

I really like this apprenticeship as I am able to learn modules at college and then apply the knowledge to one of my projects at work. I really enjoy the fact that once I finish my apprenticeship I will receive qualifications and also get the experience I need for this job. This apprenticeship has also helped to improve my technical skills by teaching others.

Next Steps

Once my apprenticeship ends I am planning on getting a full time job in one of the ICT departments, I first want to explore the other departments as I have not experienced those departments, I will then decide which job I want to apply for and hopefully get a full time job within the Council. 

Apprenticeship Awards and Graduation Ceremony 2020

To recognise National Apprenticeship Week the council celebrated with an award and graduation ceremony to acknowledge the contribution of apprentices, managers and businesses that have made the programme the success it is today.

National Apprenticeship Week, which ran from 3 to 7 February 2020, is not only an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that apprentices do but also a chance to show the benefit for individuals, businesses and the local economy.

The Council currently employs around 100 apprentices across a range of service areas including, customer services, social care, and housing. Whilst the council also has 20 apprentices as part of the London Office of Technology and Innovation programme, the highest of any London borough.

On Wednesday 5 February, Hackney Town Hall Assembly Halls welcomed Apprentices and their managers to the awards and graduation ceremony for an afternoon and evening of recognising the emerging talent and those who provide tremendous support.

Congratulations to the winners:

Hackney Apprenticeship Network Employer of the Year – Morgan Sindall

Assessor of the Year – Della King, UCAN

Manager of the Year – Susan McFarland-Lyons, ICT

Apprentice Rising Star Award – Sam Clare, Service Support Apprentice ICT

Apprentice Recognition Award – Bryce Bacon, Commercial Gas Apprentice, Neighbourhoods and Housing

Apprentice Champion Award – Cleo Lewis, Customer Service Advisor, Neighbourhoods and Housing

Special Recognition Award – Bulent Mustafa, Enforcement Officer, Neighbourhoods and Housing.

 

Apprenticeship Graduation
Apprenticeship Graduation

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources said: “I am proud of the council’s multi-award-winning apprenticeship scheme, and National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect opportunity to showcase the achievements of apprentices, managers and businesses. Hackney’s apprenticeship programme has been a key factor in increasing the number of Hackney residents applying to work for the council. I welcome the support the council is giving to local businesses so they too can offer quality apprenticeship opportunities so they gain the same benefits and, in the process, help Hackney residents develop the skills and experience employers are looking for.”

Hackney Apprenticeships are open to anyone who lives in Hackney, went to a Hackney school or college or if you are receiving or have received Hackney leaving care services.

To learn more about the Hackney Apprentice Network contact: apprenticeships@hackney.gov.uk