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Ceredigion county council's apprenticeship programme

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 a part 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 is 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 apprenticeship.

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 apprentices 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 are amazing. Some have had promotions and started their journey on what we hope will be a long career with us in Ceredigion.