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Daniel takes big Steps to Work
We spoke to Daniel Lothian, a fourth year pupil at Waid Community Campus. He’s studying for six Nat 4s in Maths, English, History, Physics, Social Studies and RME and taking part in a Steps 2 Work programme.
After break time, Daniel swaps his school uniform for his barista uniform and starts his catering shift in Waid Community Campus cafeteria. He told us:
“I’ve been working in the Waid café and kitchen now since just after the campus opened in September 2017. I also take part in a Steps to Work programme alongside my school classes. Steps to Work is an SQA Award which has a practical side as well as learning skills that will help me with job applications and interviews. We do cooking, baking and charity work. At Christmas we made hampers for the East Neuk Elderly Group.
“My work in the school cafeteria involves preparing lunches for the school kids; things like pizzas, paninis and baked potatoes and I peel and chop vegetables for the homemade soup. I also make coffees for the staff, pupils and public and carry out the general cleaning duties that are required.
“The experience for me has been really valuable. I have a good overview of how a busy café operates and I’ve learned a lot about kitchen hygiene and safety. One of the transferable skills I’ve gained is confidence when having to speak up with a problem in the workplace and I think this will be useful for me when I leave school.
“I’ve already started looking into my options when I leave school and I’m hoping to continue in the catering field. Here at Waid, Fife College have a course in Hospitality, Travel and Tourism so I’d really like to apply for that when the time comes. That way, I’ll also be near my colleagues here if I need any help or advice.”
Daniel’s teacher at Waid, Ian Urquhart said,
“We tailored support for Daniel, which focused on the mainstream subjects he needed in an innovative way which supported his learning style. Having made a bespoke curriculum link with the cafeteria to develop his skills for life and work, he has been able to gain valuable real-life experience and as a result is successfully achieving six SQA’s. Daniel can look forward to being able to make choices when he leaves school and he has a range of options open to him.”
Gayle Langlands (Catering Supervisor) at Waid Community Campus told us: “Daniel has been a real asset to us and is a very hard-working member of the team. He has gained customer facing experience as well as behind the scenes knowledge and practical skills of working in a busy school kitchen.”
Daniel has also been able to transfer what he’s learned and carries out his duties in a paid capacity in the community campus after the school day is over. This is a win–win situation for Daniel and Waid Community Use as the building has a busy extra-curricular focus so the café benefits from having an experienced member of staff willing to work the extra hours.
Celebrating young Ross' success
As part of Modern Apprentice Week we are promoting some of the fantastic experiences of young members of the Fife Council’s workforce. Here we celebrate a successful confidence building experience of Ross McCall.
Ross, a Clerical Assistant with Revenue and Commercial Services was recently one of two young employees who represented Fife Council in the Young Scotland Programme.
The Young Scotland Programme exists to develop communication skills and broaden the horizons of people in early stages of their working lives. Delegates attended a three day course where they are encouraged to think, and talk openly about a variety of issues facing society today. Each delegate then presents a short paper on a subject of ‘current interest or controversy’.
Ross explains “My subject was ‘Should obesity be classed as a disability as in 90+% of cases it is easily preventable compared to other disabilities’. He was allowed just 6 minutes to present his argument.
“We also had to have a ‘thing of value’ which was a personal belonging of our choice. We had to do a 5 minute presentation, discussing what it is and why it is so valuable to us”.
“On the third day we were also put into groups and given an hour to prepare and then present a presentation.
“On the final evening we had a final dinner and awards presentations. I was delighted when my group won the award for ‘Best Group’ presentation.
“It was such a great week. Everyone got on so well, everyone’s presentations were outstanding and it has helped me so much in terms of working with others and public speaking”.
Young Scotland Programme - Eilidh
Eilidh Smith is a Business Support Assistant in Protective Services and Employability and recently represented Fife Council in the Young Scotland Programme. The Young Scotland Programme exists to develop communication skills and broaden the horizons of people in early stages of their working lives. Delegates attended a three day course where they are encouraged to think, and talk openly about a variety of issues facing society today. Each delegate then presents a short paper on a subject of ‘current interest or controversy’.
“Initially, I was very nervous about arriving at the hotel and meeting 30 strangers who I would be effectively living with for the next three days. I very quickly realised that I had nothing to be nervous about! We were all welcomed by the organisers and given a delegate pack which contained all of the information about the upcoming week and also a quick intro to each other and who would be in each of the groups.
First of all I had to choose a ‘Thing of Value’ which is something of sentimental value (not necessarily monetary value) and I was asked to prepare a 6 minute Argument Paper on any topic which I felt was relevant, current and which I am passionate about.
Over the three days we listened to 27 argument papers which required you to really listen and broaden your horizons in order to allow you to actively participate in the discussion after each one. I personally found it very interesting hearing what other people my age around the country were passionate about and also what issues were affecting our country and the world as a whole. Everyone was so supportive of each other and you could feel that the room was on your side during your presentation.
We also had a group challenge to prepare - a presentation based on the word “faith”. This was a very interesting task because faith meant something different to everyone in our group. We chose to focus on the relationship between faith & politics. This group challenge took up most of our spare time between argument sessions.
Overall, I had a very interesting and informative few days in Troon where I was able to network with young people from all over the world that are living and working in Scotland. We have all made life-long connections which we will be able to use in the future to help in our careers.”
Rebecca's success as a Modern Apprentice Care Assistant
Rebecca is a Modern Apprentice Care Assistant for Fife Council. She recently completed her level 2 SVQ in Social Services & Healthcare and is now looking forward to starting her permanent post as a Carer. Rebecca says that her apprenticeship has been a great experience that has allowed her to gain skills that she never thought she would achieve.
“Before I applied for the apprenticeship I didn’t have the qualification needed to go into a career as a Care Assistant. My apprenticeship provided endless learning opportunities for me and allowed me to attend a variety of outstanding training courses and work within different teams to gain experience.” Rebecca continued: “I was able to learn while I worked and I am now ready to begin my permanent job with my qualification.”
Rebecca enjoys her work with vulnerable adults, supporting them in their day to day lives “I find my role to be both important and rewarding – I love that no two days are the same and there are always challenges to overcome.” Adding that she had an amazing amount of support throughout her apprenticeship from all of her co-workers and managers.
The role means that Rebecca has to continually adapt herself and her behaviours to support the needs of the individuals she is caring for but says that she would 100% recommend it to a young person thinking about applying for an apprenticeship with Fife Council.
Rebecca added “It has been a very positive experience for me as I have gained more confidence and found a career path that I absolutely adore.”
Rebecca has successfully completed her SVQ qualification and secured a permanent contract as a Care Assistant with hopes to progress her career further in the future.
Housing Apprentice opened the door to a career
Taylor is a Housing Modern Apprentice who joined the council in August 2015. She’s studying an SVQ in Housing and says she would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to young people who perhaps aren’t sure what they want to do for a career.
“I felt a lot of pressure to go on to university from the college and previously from school,” Taylor said. “I personally felt like I would benefit more if I actually went out there and got some real life experience. Plus I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do as a career anyway.
“I decided I would look around for an apprenticeship as I wanted to work and get experience but continue learning and get a qualification out of it at the same time.”
During her apprenticeship Taylor has worked in every department within the Housing Service and enjoys the fact that every day her job is different. She now regularly deals with customers in a face to face role, which is sometimes challenging, and feels that her apprenticeship has really improved her communication and negotiation skills.
Taylor continued: “My apprenticeship has been an amazing experience for me. I feel like I have grown so much as a person and my confidence has rocketed!
“I am a year and half into my apprenticeship and have just recently been offered a permanent job as a Housing Officer which is the area of work I was aiming to be working in. I found it very beneficial having the chance to complete qualifications as it has given me a great starting point for my career and meant I met the requirements for my new post. I am so pleased with this as I have worked hard throughout my apprenticeship and tried my best to gain as much knowledge as possible, so hard work pays off!
“I feel like I have a good career ahead of me now with a steady wage, plenty of opportunity to move up the career ladder and I just simply enjoy what I do. I get a lot of job satisfaction from feeling like I made a positive difference to a customer’s life I would never have gotten the opportunity to be offered my permanent post if I hadn’t applied for the apprenticeship.
“I would strongly encourage people to join Fife Council! I have gained a great deal of experience not just in the service that I work in but a lot of general life experience that would be useful no matter what career you are considering.’’
Taylor hopes to continue her career in Housing and possibly continue her studies at degree level.
Amy’s story – Flexible work supports studies and shapes career
Although she didn’t have any formal childcare experience, Amy was keen to go into teaching when she left school and thought working on a casual basis as a childcare practitioner would be useful work experience.
“I’ve been working as permanent relief for the past three years, since I left school,” Amy said. “Although the job is to cover holidays and absence, there have always been shifts for me in Dalgety Bay.
“Before this I’d helped out at local dance clubs and done babysitting, but nothing more formal. I wanted to be a teacher and was looking to get experience.
“I’m at university and it can sometimes be a challenge to juggle everything, but I’m not tied down to shifts and my manager is really flexible if I can’t make it because of exams or coursework. I actually find it gives me something to look forward to during the week, outside of my uni work.
“I’m studying History and Sociology because I wanted to be a secondary school teacher. But I’ve found I really enjoy working with younger children and now I’m planning to go into primary teaching.
“The skills I’ve learnt have been invaluable. Every single day is different depending on the children who come through the door but I’ve never had a day that I haven’t enjoyed myself. If you put a lot into it, you get a lot back from the children.”
Calvyn’s story – Childcare Practitioner
Calvyn is 22 and he’s been working as a childcare practitioner in out of school clubs for over three years – and loving it!
“A family friend that worked within this sector pointed the job advert out to me while I was at college,” he said. “When I was about 15 I used to do voluntary work with the youth club at Kelty community centre, so they thought this will be a great opportunity to further my ambition.
“I applied to be a relief worker and have never looked back. I worked on a casual basis for a couple of months and then got a permanent position.
“I was based at a massive school club for a few years where there was always loads happening, a lot of buzz and lots of activities to keep your eye on! Recently I’ve moved to a club at a smaller school, so it’s a different environment and I’m enjoying working more closely with kids in small groups.
“I’m doing a degree in Childhood and Youth Studies at Uni now. But because I work at crèches during the day and after school clubs later I can still do the job – and earn some money – around my course. The work experience counts towards my SSSC (Scottish Social Services Council) registration as well.
“I’m thinking about going on to teacher training, but I’m keeping my options open at the moment. With this degree and work experience I could go into social work or child psychology.
“If you love working with children this is a great job to have. You get real satisfaction from seeing them play, learn and develop in a friendly, fun, safe and secure environment.”
Ruth's Story - Apprentice to Permanent Employee
Ruth was an apprentice from September 2013 to September 2015 and has now got a permanent job with Housing Services as an Assessment Officer in the Housing Condition and Supply Team (grade FC5).
Ruth applied for her apprenticeship after leaving school at 18. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career and didn’t want to commit to university just for the sake of it,” she said. “I wanted to work, get experience and go from there, so I applied for a couple of apprenticeships. I didn’t know much about housing so I didn’t really know what to expect from the apprenticeship.”
Ruth continued: “I got loads of work experience with placements in different housing departments like Estates Management, Homelessness, Debt and Maintenance. And I worked in the Local Office, dealing directly with the public and carrying out supervised interviews.
“It’s given me far more self-confidence. To be honest, I think I’ve kind of grown up more than my friends who went to university because I’ve seen the reality of people’s lives in a way I never would have as a student. I suppose it was jumping in at the deep end but I enjoyed just getting out there and doing it!
“Fife Council actually does a lot for young employees. And the other staff in housing really welcomed me and the other apprentices as a breath of fresh air. They all helped coach and mentor us and I think they enjoyed it too.
“I’ve learned to deal with different people and different situations appropriately. By staying friendly and down to earth I build up good relationships with people, even when we’re negotiating difficult things like joint repair costs between neighbours.
“I think that this was the best thing I could have ever done after school. There was a massive pressure to go to university but personally I knew it wasn’t the right time for me and I am so glad I stuck by what I wanted. Now I have no student debt, but I do have savings, a steady income, more qualifications and endless opportunity to better my career. I really would encourage young people, especially those who do not know what they want to do, or do not feel university is for them, to look into apprenticeships.”
- Left school with 8 standard grades and 4 Highers.
- As an apprentice did her SVQ Level 2 in Housing through Fife College and the CIH (Chartered Institute of Housing) in Housing Management.
- Now working towards the SVQ Level 3 in Housing.
- Ultimate aim; complete a degree… and become Head of Housing. (Well, a colleague did suggest it!)
Tom's Story - MA Pupil Support Assistant
“It appealed to me that it was training and a job,” said Tom. “I’d never actually had a proper job before or anything like that, so the thought of actually getting money for doing something I enjoyed was great! Plus it was also a qualification - an SVQ 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. It should give me a lot of options after the apprenticeship. I go to college once a month and the rest of the time I’m working full time at the school.”
Tom is given support and development on the job as well as through college. His manager Amanda Logan said: “We have monthly meetings with Tom and talk about what his next progression is. We think about what Tom wants to get out of the job, not just what the college or the school want him to get out of the job.”
Working with children in Primary Two to Primary Five is different every day. For Tom there’s no such thing as a typical day! “It’s exhausting but rewarding. I really, really, really, enjoy working with kids and I think that I’m quite good at it.”
Amanda confirmed that over the last year and a half Tom has learned how to react to different situations and in turn how children react to things.
“He really does have a good way of working with children. He’s come such a long way and it’s nice to see Tom’s journey,” she said. “Tom’s got six months left of his apprenticeship and when he goes we will miss him because he is part of our team.
“The apprenticeship is good and I think that Tom has benefitted - he’s grown up with us, he’s learned about life.”
So what’s next for Tom? Now he’s discovered through his Modern Apprenticeship that he enjoys working with children and has gained a childcare qualification, Tom hopes to continue his education in this field. His aim is a career in educational psychology.
Lynne and Eileen’s stories – MA Electrician and MA Joiner
Lynne says: “I previously worked in a health and safety team but I didn’t really like being in an office. There was a female Electrician working in the building and that made me think I could do that. It wasn’t something I’d thought about before but I am really glad I did it. I enjoy the achievement of making things work. There are physical aspects – lifting, bending and crawling – and there are the intellectual aspects – fault finding and thinking things through.”
‘’Outside of work I am a girly girl and often people don’t believe me when I say I’m an Electrician. What does an Electrician look like anyway?” Lynne
I enjoy the physical work and meeting people. No two days are the same.” Eileen
Eileen says: “I was always doing stuff for my family. I’d worked on a building site doing grounds work and general labouring and I was lucky enough to be put with a Joiner one day. That was it. The guys are really nice – there’s a bit of banter but it’s good. Any preconceived ideas disappear when the guys can see you are capable of doing what they do. I work hard, I stick in, and we all treat each other as individuals. You get supported to learn and gain the skills and experience you need.”
Now that Lynne has qualified she will support a new apprentice: “I am excited to be able to work with other apprentices – it’ll be really interesting if they’re male!”And, at the end of the day, they both agree “There’s a real satisfaction in doing a good job.”
Chris & Caitlins’ Story – Bespoke Apprentices in Building Services & Public Safety
Chris came straight from 6th year at school because, he says, “You have a job, so you both earn money and a qualification at the same time, killing two birds with one stone. College is more laid back than school too.”
Caitlin had just finished studying for her HNC in biomedical science at college before taking up her apprenticeship role. “It suits my learning style. I get to study and do a job at the same time where you can see your learning put into practice.”
“Every week we get ½ a day with our mentor, 1 day with a surveyor and spend 1 day at college” says Caitlin. “Sometimes it’s good to get out of the office too which is why it’s good to get out on site. We’ve already been on site to make sure that the plans meet regulations, and contacting the architect if they aren’t!”
Both agree that the experience has been good so far. Chris adds “It’s easier than going straight into a job because you get lots of support.” Each has their own mentor to work with and there are plenty of experiences people to learn from – from inspectors in the office to the surveyors on site. “The atmosphere in the office is good and get on with all of them” says Chris, “There are 2 guys in the office who were previous trainees and are now working their way up so I can see the way forward from this role.” “And they know what we’re going through” laughs Caitlin. Chris and Caitlin agree that if you’re looking for a role as an apprentice or something similar you should go for it.
Stephanie’s Story – Trainee Accountant
“Here I enjoy getting a whole range of experiences, there is always something new and I get to try lots of different things. The range is particularly good due to the size of the Council’s budget, the variety of work it does and the political elements that drive the decisions. I’m learning that it’s about money and people too.”
“The Council are also putting me through a training programme that involves interactive online tutorials and I get time at home on the days when I have webinars. The subjects I choose within the course are agreed with my managers as they can identify which ones would best suit with experience, work and projects I can get involved with in the Council. I also have a mentor who I can go to if I have an issue with anything or just find yourself a bit stuck.”
And it’s not just training – “I am getting other opportunities too. I have been to a conference and I have been into a high school to talk to the 6th year pupils about careers in finance. I would never normally have got to do either of those things and both add to my personal development.”
“The people have been really nice and supportive. After the 3 years of my traineeship I hope to get a permanent position. There are more challenges coming because of the budget decisions the Council will have to make in the future.”“To others thinking about a traineeship I would say ‘just do it‘.”
What do our managers say?
“Employing MAs is part of our commitment to improving positive employment destinations for young people.” “They help to refresh our workforce and spread the age profile. I spent a day going back to the floor with one of our Pupil Support Assistants and I have certainly gained more appreciation of their role and skills and also how the MA scheme works.” Bryan Kirkaldy, Head of Education, Central (Education Directorate)
‘’The MAs that I have met bring enthusiasm, willingness to learn, adaptability and an understanding of the important part their role plays’’
“Meeting young MAs has reinforced to me that we have some exceptional young people in our schools who we should be encouraging in every positive way to join our workforce and that the MA route is an ideal way of doing this. They help build skills capacity for the future in specifically targeted areas of our workforce and allow us to train and mentor young staff in ways which are best suited to our core business.” Peter Wright, Curriculum Development Officer (Education Directorate)
“I believe the whole point of apprenticeships and traineeships is to give young people a start on the career ladder. Some already have qualifications and others come straight from school. We have appointed 8 Home Care MAs and 8 Care Assistant MAs in the last 8 months alone.” Karen Marwick, Team Manager - Home Care Service (Social Work Directorate).
“There is a national shortage of Trainee Environmental Health Officer posts whilst at the same time cut backs have caused a loss of experienced personnel. We are very pleased to have 2 traineeships which provide a career start for environmental health graduates and allow Fife to help redress its age profile.” Geoff Bates, Service Manager - Consumer & Business Education (Environment, Enterprise & Communities Directorate).“In an exciting collaboration with the Scottish Rugby Union we have created 2 Sports Development MA roles. The apprentices will work with schools, local rugby clubs community groups and so further support young people. This is a real win for the Council, apprentices and the community. Did I mention we have appointed 2 women?” Jen Henderson, Sports Development Manager (Environment, Enterprise & Communities Directorate)