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Apprentice Heroes

Every year, as part of National Apprenticeship Week, we are proud to celebrate the fantastic work and contributions made by our apprentices to their workplace, their student cohort and their communities.

In the last year, our apprentices have had to contend with a wide range of barriers to working and studying but they have still gone on to complete their qualifications.

Our annual Apprenticeships Awards ceremony will be held in the summer but we couldn’t let this week pass by without recognising our amazing students and celebrating some ‘Apprentice Heroes’.

Six students have been chosen in acknowledgement of their incredible work and for going above and beyond with their studies.

And we are so grateful to all of the employers we work with, who all show amazing support to our apprentices throughout their studies, so we wanted to recognise an employer as an ‘Apprentice Hero’ too.

ASHLEIGH GRANT

Ashleigh Grant is studying a Level 3 Maintenance Operations Engineering Technician apprenticeship at the College and has been recognised for her incredible results both academically and in the workplace throughout her four-year programme.

Ashleigh, age 27, works for scientific engineering organisation Thermo Fisher. She has continued to impress and progress during her apprenticeship and hopes to lead her own team in the near future.

Ashleigh said: “Before I started my apprenticeship I worked in marketing. The job was brilliant but, sadly, the company went bust and I lost my job. At that point I made that decision that I needed a job that I could rely on, so I had a look at apprenticeships. When I applied, I didn't think I would be the ideal candidate as there were maybe 50 or 60 other people interviewing and they were all really bright and straight out of college. An apprenticeship is definitely something I would recommend. I know lots of people who have done a degree but don't use it, whereas with my apprenticeship I've been able to get real-world skills and knowledge, and learn and build relationships.”

Ashleigh’s assessor Phil Tavener said: “Throughout the four years of her apprenticeship, Ashleigh has demonstrated an enthusiastic approach to both her academic and work-based learning. She is dynamic and creative in finding opportunities at work to progress her NVQ and successfully completed her electrical maintenance apprenticeship with a distinction grade, including completing additional units. Ashleigh is always willing to support both her colleagues and the other engineering apprentices at Thermo Fisher, helping to develop their skills and knowledge, and provides encouragement and advice when things are difficult.”

LOUIS MOORE

Louis Moore has just completed a Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Plumbing apprenticeship at the College and works for United Mechanical Ltd.

Louis, aged 20, has been recognised for his academic achievements as well as his apprenticeship performance as he secured additional qualifications in English and maths during his programme after finishing school without them.

He said: “I really enjoyed the apprenticeship programme, it was brilliant. When I left school, I didn’t have my English and maths qualifications but the College helped me achieve those. I did struggle in those subjects but the help I got from the College was great. Doing an apprenticeship means I am working full-time so it has worked out brilliantly. I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship. If you’re looking at starting in a trade industry, it’s definitely the way to go.”

Louis’ assessor Geoff Talbot said: “Louis has worked very hard to get his qualification and has produced some very good work. Although he struggled with his Functional Skills subjects and had some setbacks along the way, he never let this this get him down. He continues to come back stronger and has now completed his English, Maths and IT qualifications. It just goes to show what you can achieve if you keep trying.”

Milly Rawlings

Milly Rawlings is studying a Level 3 Horticulture Supervisor apprenticeship and has been recognised for the growing initiative she has continued to show, resulting in a promotion from her employer.

Milly, age 19, works as Head Gardener at Charlton Park Estate – a Grade 1 listed country house near Malmesbury. As part of her college work, Milly also led the Horticulture team’s project at the Bath & West Show.

Milly said: “Doing an apprenticeship was really beneficial because I gained a lot more experience in the industry than I would have done otherwise. I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to other people because you get to gain knowledge in the workplace while also still getting to go to college and do the theory-based learning as well.”

Milly’s assessor Victoria Fiander said: “Milly joined the Level 3 Horticulture Supervisor apprenticeship programme as a progression from the Level 2 full-time programme. Milly had to be an independent learner in the workplace as there was no Head Gardener to share their knowledge and guide her. I have watched Milly blossom as a horticulturalist and watched her career grow. This has been recognised in the workplace as Milly has progressed to the role of Head Gardener. Milly is now sharing her knowledge with a new apprentice at Charlton Park. Milly is a great ambassador for the apprenticeship and proof of how it can be successful in industry.”

DAN CULL

Dan Cull is studying a Level 3 Team Leader / Supervisor apprenticeship to support his role at Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The 42-year-old has been recognised for being tasked with taking on extra responsibilities at work and he is now in charge of a team of 12 fire fighters.

Dan said: “I have worked for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service for about 18 years and progressed through various roles but this apprenticeship was a really good opportunity to develop some of the leadership and team skills that I've picked over the years but put it into a more

structured format and fine-tune some of the bits that I hadn't previously had any formal training on. It’s been really useful and has actually helped me secure a promotion.”

Dan’s assessor, Nic Covey, said: “Alongside his apprenticeship, Dan has also supported the delivery of ‘Learnership in Life Saver and Trainer/Assessor’ courses and was a Technical Rescue Supervisor for Rope and Water Rescue. Whilst managing a station of 21 on-call firefighters throughout the pandemic, he was still able to complete his apprenticeship and a diploma with a distinction and is now coaching and mentoring others, actively supporting new apprentices within the fire department.”

Tamasin Jones

Tamasin Jones is studying a Level 5 HR Consultant apprenticeship at the College and works for Fairfield Farm College.

Tamasin, age 45, has been recognised for her efforts over a number of years. She previously completed a Level 3 apprenticeship programme and her improved skills have aided the development of HR procedures within her organisation.

She said: “Completing my apprenticeships with Wiltshire College & University created extensive professional opportunities for me. My learning and progression accelerated when I finished my Level 3 Diploma in HR Support. Since then, I have gone onto complete my Level 5 Diploma HR Consultant/Partner, which drove my development and I excelled in my role. Soon after finishing my apprenticeship, I received a promotion within my organisation and I hope to continue furthering my studies with a Level 7 Apprenticeship in Leadership and Management.”

Tamasin’s assessor, Hazel Sheppard, said: “I have worked with Tamasin since November 2019 and have seen her develop her confidence and grow in her role. Tamasin has shown a clear commitment to personal development and enhancing the quality HR procedures within her organisation. Alongside this, she has also upskilled her maths qualifications. Tamasin has achieved all this whilst also looking after her family through severe Covid symptoms.”

Billy Mitchell

Billy Mitchell is studying a Level 2 Land-based Service Engineer (Plant Pathway) apprenticeship at the College and has been recognised for his overall outstanding attitude to his programme.

Billy, age 23, works for construction equipment hire organisation AmeyBriggs. In 2021, he was Highly Commended in the Plant Mechanic of the Year (South) category at the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) Stars of the Future Awards – having previously won the award in 2020.

Billy said: “If you know the industry you want to go into, I think an apprenticeship is a brilliant option compared to just trying to get a qualification and then a job afterwards because it is that foot in the door. I couldn’t recommend it enough, I did A Levels and that didn’t help me decide what I want to do, so to get an opportunity to get hands-on in the industry has really made my mind up about what I want to do in the future. It has given me a step up and not taken me as long to get into industry.”

Billy’s assessor Andrew Leeson said: “Billy has an exceptional ‘can-do’ attitude towards his work and college learning. His thirst for engineering knowledge means that Billy will complete all work

allocated and, if complete ahead of time, will look for more. Billy is always keen to offer assistance, he uses every opportunity to ask questions and gain knowledge. Billy is a very likable individual who is able to communicate well with colleagues and customers at all levels. He has impressed all of his lecturers and colleagues due to his general nature, knowledge of the job and ability.”

EMPLOYER: SOUTH HILLS SCHOOLS

South Hills Schools have been recognised as the College’s ‘Employer Hero’.

South Hills Schools are a group of 10 nurseries throughout Wiltshire. At present they have four apprentices from the College on their staff.

Hilary Campbell-Smith, Operations Director at South Hills School Ltd, said: “We have been fortunate over the years to engage with many apprentices who have continued to become valued members of our teams. Apprentices are our future room assistants and leaders, our potential Deputy Managers and Managers, our specialists in SEN, outdoor learning and beyond. Investing in the process and having them join our company has added so much value to us. We feel proud to have been a part of where they started their journey and how it ends.”

South Hills Schools’ nominator Helen Newman said: “South Hills have numerous apprentices from the College and are always supportive of all their apprentices. They provide opportunities for apprentices to experience other childcare settings within their estate, which allows them to learn and practice new skills in different environments. South Hills Curriculum Lead, Louise Wager, visits apprentices regularly to offer support, and she also writes witness statements which supported the assessors a great deal during the pandemic.”

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