Apprentices in Poole local government branch, Dorset, have been meeting to discuss learning opportunities open to them.
Union learning rep Pete Stratford was instrumental in setting up the group. Pete says,
Our Apprentice Learning Network came about following my experience as a public service manager employing apprentices. I was aware that apprentices were often isolated across a number of sites and that there was little or no opportunity for peer support and networking. Also in my role as UNISON Lifelong Learning Coordinator I was aware of the extensive and wide ranging learning offer available to UNISON members.
Using our Learning Agreement we were able to work together to set up an initial event attended by more than 20 apprentices. The Union Learning Fund provided lunch and refreshments.
At the initial event apprentices requested job shadowing opportunities. We learned about the differing apprentice experiences across the organisation and some apprentices offered to meet with our HR lead and UNISON branch Young Persons lead with a view to taking forward a regular series of learning events.
The first meeting was less than six months ago. Since then a core group of three apprentices have arranged two network meetings, with the third event already being planned. Previous events have included group exercises to get to know each other, guest speakers, the sharing of information from apprentices nearing the end of their apprenticeships and the creation of a work shadowing arrangement, where apprentices can shadow other apprentices in other departments to experience a variety of workplaces.
The small but very enthusiastic core group have been learning and developing their organisation skills, at the same time strengthening their CVs. They have had positive feedback from other apprentices who are enjoying meeting up, forming new friendships and having fun learning.
Early days but we are very proud of what has been achieved so far.
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If you’d like to set up a similar event or group in your workplace, you can apply for Kickstart funding to help with costs of venue hire or refreshments.