Council’s Chief Executive meets with Apprentices for National Apprenticeship Week 2019

We’ve been following the Apprentice Learning Network at Poole Borough Council for a while now, and we’ve been consistently impressed by the way that the apprentices have supported each other, made use of the resources available to them, and promoted learning opportunities.

In this piece Freya Kendall, one of the founder members, explains how the network’s success has been recognised by the council’s chief executive.

Apprentices working for the Borough of Poole and Bournemouth Borough Council met with the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Shadow Authority Chief Executive, Graham Farrant, on Wednesday 6th March 2019, to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week.

The event provided the apprentices with the opportunity to find out more about the future vision for BCP through an inspiring presentation from Graham. The apprentices were also able to have their voices heard through a question and answer session with the Chief Executive, who said:

“The apprenticeship scheme is a really good way to attract workers to the council. Working for a council may not sound very exciting, but the scheme is a really good way for us to get skilled, young people working for us. Overall I think it’s a really good scheme. It’s really beneficial for us and for the apprentices”.

Mel and Sophie from the HR Learning and Development team said,

“This was a great opportunity for us to bring apprentices together from both Bournemouth and Poole and for Graham to share the future vision for BCP Council. We are excited by the opportunity to further develop the apprenticeship program within the new authority.”

The Apprentice Learning Network (ALN) was originally set up through the Learning and Partnership Agreement. This was established via collaboration between the Unions and HR. Freya Kendall, Marketing officer, and Nick Hillman, Business Apprentice, volunteered to help with the planning and running of the ALN.

Freya and Nick have worked with HR to organise learning and development opportunities for current apprentices. They have organised wellbeing, shadowing and team building training opportunities which has enriched the apprenticeship programme. Nick and Freya have also recently won the ‘Young Member of the Year Award’ at UNISON’s 2019 Get Active Event for the work they have carried out for the ALN.

As the group has expanded so has the team who volunteer to organise the ALN. Recently Jack Matthews, Digital Degree Apprentice, Zak Cusens, Rights of Way Apprentice, and Matthew Tibbey, Communication and Participation Apprentice, have volunteered to help plan and organise future events and training opportunities for the ALN. Zak has also volunteered to undertake the UNISON Learning Rep role within the Local Branch to help support and expand the training opportunities available to apprentices, young people and fellow UNISON members.

Jack told us:

“I learn best through doing and putting things into practice, so an apprenticeship is a brilliant way for me to enhance my skills and knowledge. The Council has always been very supportive with my 20% study time, and far from being viewed as the tea boy of the office, I have been made to feel a valued and trusted member of the team. The ALN is a fantastic way to meet other apprentices across the Council and learn from one another in a more relaxed environment. I can genuinely say I love my job!”

The Council work with several training providers to run the apprenticeship scheme, including Skills and Learning.

Unionlearn Director and TUC Head of Organisation, Services and Skills Kevin Rowan said:

“The work that young UNISON members in Poole having been doing to support fellow apprentices in the Council through the development of an Apprentice Learning Network (ALN) is an inspiration, and demonstrates just why apprenticeships are trade union business.”

“Unionlearn congratulates Freya and Nick, not only on the sucess of the ALN, but also their recent award, and hopes the network continues to flourish and inspire similar initiatives in other workplaces.”