Lynne looks after the apprenticeship programme for Ceredigion County Council, which covers traditional apprenticeships as well as the upskilling of staff, to bring new opportunities into the council.
Tell us about your role?
I work with managers and human resource officers on workforce planning and recruitment strategies to help identify apprenticeship opportunities. I help managers gain a better understanding of the benefits to apprentices and support the advertising, recruiting and interviewing processes. I also work with schools and colleagues.
I have a background in human resources and learning and development. When I saw the apprenticeship role with Ceredigion County Council, I thought it would cover everything I love in giving people new opportunities and learning.
Why is the apprenticeship programme so important?
Our key drive as one of the largest employers in the area, is to play apart in creating meaningful career opportunities for young people and those who want to change career.
We believe this brings in new talent into the workforce and supports people to stay in Ceredigion. Our apprentices could be the managers of tomorrow, and we genuinely value them and support their progression in the council.
Our apprenticeship programme has also supported the use of Welsh Language for some of our apprentices. By working for the Council it means, they have retained and improved their Welsh language skills since leaving school.
Describe how the apprenticeship programme has evolved?
The first protocol was to get managers to understand the benefits of apprenticeships and explain how it would work within their business.
This involved a little bit of research initially. I did this by networking with other organisations such as National Training Federation for Wales (NTFW). The NTFW help find local training providers to deliver the apprenticeship qualification.
We have recruited a total of 17 apprentices since 2018 and eight of those have been in social care. We have had five frontline roles such as apprentice care assistants and youth workers, and three supporting administrative roles.
The maturity and professionalism our apprentices have shone through over the last three years. Our care home residents have commented that they love the interaction with younger workers. We have seen the benefits of intergenerational working and the positive relationships this has built.
Describe your recruitment process?
We advertise through social media channels, the council website and by attending careers fayres and secondary schools. We target parents through local organisation, community links and further education colleges.
We keep our messages simple, by creating videos to give them a snapshot of the programme and what the career is about. These are things you can’t write in a job description. They get to hear from other apprentices and the people they might work with.
Our interview and application approach are tailored to each role. We design questions and tasks that help the candidates demonstrate their values, strengths, qualities, and life experience.
We ask candidates to complete a practical task that they can prepare before the interview. For example, make a physical or virtual memory box or list of activities based around the generic profile of a care home resident which we provide.
During the interview, the candidate will then talk us through why they have picked those items or activities. This helps people demonstrate a ‘person centred approach’, their values and caring qualities, even if they don’t necessarily have experience of working in social care.
What support is available to managers who employ apprentices?
It takes a team to make an apprenticeship successful. I support managers design the job description all through to the completion of the apprentice.
I run information sessions for managers and challenge the myths. Once we have appointed someone, we discuss their induction and meet every six weeks.
I keep in touch with the training managers to see how the qualification is going and run a peer support network for managers who come together to share their work.
What support is given to apprentices?
Apprentices are given an induction and structured programme. Since working virtually we have provided more support and mentoring. We also ensure they have all our employee benefits and developing opportunities.
We connect current apprentices with apprentice who have previously completed the qualification. After six months we come together to discuss permanent opportunities that might be available.
I run one to one interviews with apprentices to highlight their successes and share this on the internet to try and encourage other managers to think about recruiting.
Why should other employers consider an apprenticeship qualification?
It’s the best feeling to know you have played a small part in setting up someone’s career as well as contributing to the resilience of your organisation.
We recommend the apprenticeship programme because it attracts new talent and career opportunities for young people and career changers.
From an employer perspective we have gained so much. Most of our apprentices have secured permanent roles. The skills and enthusiasm they have brought into the council is amazing. Some have had promotions and started their journey on what we hope will be a long career with us in Ceredigion.
Delyth Evans is responsible for three of Mudiad Meithrin’s nurseries across Wales, including Llangefni, Aberystwyth and Pontypridd. Between them, these nurseries employ around 80 staff members and 400 children aged between eight weeks old to 12 years who receive full day care from these services.
Why do you have an apprenticeship programme?
Recruiting new staff is challenging, and we know that there are staff shortages across the sector which makes it even more challenging for us as a Welsh Nursery to recruit qualified Welsh speaking staff.
Mudiad Meithrin’s apprenticeship scheme began in 2019. The apprenticeships are open to anyone interested in starting a career in child care. Hopefully this opportunity will attract people into the sector, as well as keeping Welsh speaking students within the Welsh medium sector.
How many apprentices have completed the programme?
We currently have four students aged between 18-45 years old that are working with us in our Welsh medium day nurseries. They are all undertaking their Level 3 in Child Care, Play, Learning and Development practitioner. We have already offered three of our apprentice’s full-time employment once they qualify.
Gwenno Lewis, Apprentice at Meithrinfa Camau Bach, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion
“I have received a positive and supportive experience with my tutors, co-workers and location. It’s been an excellent way of gaining work experience as well as achieving a qualification at the same time.”
“I have enjoyed the apprenticeship scheme up to now. I went into it not knowing if I’d enjoy it, but I enjoy every minute. It has given me the opportunity to meet and work alongside wonderful people.
The apprenticeship has given me hands on experience working with children and has reassured me of my career path.”
What is your recruitment process?
The apprenticeships roles are advertised through the Mudiad Meithrin website. Candidates are asked to fill in an application for the apprenticeship before being invited to an interview. If successful, they can then be referred to us, to a Cylch Meithrin or school to undertake the apprenticeship role.
If they do not have the required GCSE level in maths and language they can access this with support from their tutor via the apprenticeship.
What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
Apprentices can train while working with us and are required to work a minimum of 16 hours a week as part of the training contract. They can also work additional hours and earn a salary while studying.
We offer great employment benefits, flexible hours, and mentoring to all our staff including our apprentices. When individuals qualify, we do our best to offer them employment.
As an employer we emphasise the importance of continuing professional development. We offer additional training such as first aid, food hygiene, child protection, and training such as den building, woodwork, language immersion and much more through Academi Mudiad Meithrin’s training portal.
They get an opportunity to work alongside qualified and experienced staff. They see good practice in child care and the benefits of learning through play with children of all ages. They learn and understand the importance of children’s routine and the care needs that are required.
They also learn about the importance of policies, procedures, and regulations. They are part of the team and have regular one-to-one sessions with a work buddy.
If they wish to learn further and develop their career, they can access both Level 4 and 5 in National Vocational Qualification Management to become a Deputy Manager or Manager Role. They can also access various other courses through universities at degree level.
Why complete an apprenticeship through the medium of Welsh?
We offer Welsh language support through Mudiad Meithrin’s schemes, “Croesi’r Bont” and “Camau” if they are not confident Welsh speakers.
Working in a Welsh environment will help improve their confidence if they are not fluent Welsh speakers themselves. Being bilingual will benefit them greatly when pursuing a career in the future in Wales.