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Opening doors for care leavers

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprentices, Employers, Route Panel

Results day can be a daunting time for many students, especially for students in the care system. However, the opportunities that apprenticeships can bring, can change someone’s life for the better. We talked to North Yorkshire County Council who are seeing the benefits of apprenticeships for them and for apprentices who have now left the care system.

The perfect introduction to the workplace

In North Yorkshire, we have really embraced the opportunity to support care experienced young people into the workplace through an apprenticeship route and I am so pleased we did. Our apprentices have brought a new dynamic to the teams they work with and we are substantially better off for that. It is wonderful to see young people with a thirst to learn as they develop and grow in front of your eyes. Apprenticeships are a perfect introduction to the workplace for all, but they also play such an important part in supporting social mobility for people who just haven’t had the chance or didn’t connect with traditional methods of learning. In the current climate, employers have an even greater responsibility to this issue than ever before, and I believe apprenticeships will play a fundamental role in securing a strong and ethically considerate economy for the future.

Louise’s journey so far

I am 27 years old and I am an apprentice youth and participation worker within the Leaving Care Team in North Yorkshire County Council.

Secondary school was hit and miss for me, it was always up and down because I was still trying to find myself so I was probably not as ‘good’ as I could have been. Results day was ok, I had good and bad grades in all of my subjects. I remember feeling proud as I have never been very academic, so the grades I achieved were good for me. I did not know I wanted to do an apprenticeship, this is something I would have liked to explore more when I was younger.

When I chose to work harder to make a better life for myself things started to change for me. I went on to do my A levels at Darlington college and managed to obtain the grades I needed for university.  Once I applied I was accepted to do a foundation degree in sports and exercise therapies and moved to Newcastle to do this. Doing a foundation degree was more suitable for me as I started at level four and worked my way up to a level six. After completing the second year, I topped this up to a full degree and graduated! During this time, I had decided I didn’t want to do sports therapy anymore, so I went on to do a PGCE for Young Adults 14+ completing my second degree. Whilst doing my studies I was also trying to obtain my maths as I needed this for a QTLS to be able to teach in primary and secondary schools. At the time of all of my studies, I was saving for a mortgage, working a full-time job as well as 100 voluntary hours of teaching at the college. After seven years I finally passed my maths exam with a really high score (probably even prouder moment then my degrees).

I have always wanted to do something in regards to working with young people within foster care and care leavers. I was moving back to North Yorkshire when the job was advertised and applied for it and felt that this apprenticeship was a good stepping stone into the career that I would like to do. I did not think I would be doing an apprenticeship, but this has been manageable as I have been able to have a normal working wage to be able to pay for bills etc. I absolutely love my apprenticeship, not only that this is a passion of mine and I have finally found the industry I would like to work in. I would really like to progress in this industry and hope I can do this after my apprenticeship ends.

A new normal

My working day was always busy before COVID-19, we were able to travel a lot which I really enjoyed. I found by being able to travel within my job that this helped me to break up the working day so that the job was not always working around the laptop.  I regularly met up with people in meetings, events or conferences and communicated this way. Since COVID-19, I do not travel anymore and work from home and all the meetings are done through skype.

I live by myself so waking up here and working here can be a bit daunting. Sometimes this can be quite difficult as it is not as sociable as meeting up with people, but my managers and team have done their best to do anything they can for us in this situation.

Unsure about your options after leaving school?

Please visit the National Career Service or call them on 0800 100 900 for free impartial advice and support

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