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The Apprentice

Hi my name is Alex, I am 17, and I want to share with you how I became a successful apprentice for Wakefield Council.

I came in to care at age 15; it was quite hard because I was getting ready to do my GCSE's. I was moved around a lot, with different foster placements which was not great. But I was doing ok at school.

When I got a Leaving Care Worker, it helped turn my life around. They listened, asked what I wanted and then found out how to help me. They always asked for my opinion first. They suggested I applied for an apprenticeship...

The job
My job tile is 'Post 16 Commissioning Team, Business and Administration Apprentice'. It took me a while to get that right!

I have lots of responsibilities; here we go I'll try to list them all:

Collecting post, analysing data, researching new products and services, writing summaries for reports, taking notes at meetings, answering the telephone and taking queries, data uploading, invoicing, keeping up to date on government changes, organising meetings and events and working in a fast moving team.

There is so much to learn, and it is very challenging but it is one of the most worth while things I have ever done.  I have grown up and learnt not only how to work but how to stand on my own feet and live how I want to live. I help different departments which gives me more experience. You have a really good support network with the Council to help you with any problems you might have.

The future
I am now in the 2nd year of the apprenticeship and I am learning all the time, things are changing in the Council and you have to change too and take new things on board. I want to climb the career ladder. I still have lots to do this year and the apprenticeship has given me a great starting point to my future.

We asked Alex to give some real advice for other children in care and care leavers wanting to get an apprenticeship

1.Things don't seem to go right for me, should I bother trying to get an apprenticeship?
I didn't think I would get my apprenticeship at all! Before I do something I always say 'I can't do it, but I did and I can'.  You just have to give it a go, life is a learning curve you are going to make mistakes, you just need to make sure you learn from them.

Applying for an apprenticeship can be a long process, so don't let that put you off. There is an application, a test, then another application, then another test and finally a formal interview; you have to be prepared to go through it all! It's worth it.

2.What was the interview like?
It was really nerve wrecking! It helps if you dress smartly to give a positive image.  Always do research on the company before hand, I know it sounds long and boring but the more you know about them and yourself the more you will be able to talk and get your voice heard. I would say being friendly and not slouching kind of helps as well. Answer the questions as best as you can, and if you mess up a question don't throw in the towel they understand you are nervous and take it into account.

3.How did you apply?
All apprenticeships are on the http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ website.  I found the apprenticeship I wanted and applied very easily online. The application form is the most important thing, that's how everyone has to apply. It looks very official and a bit confusing but you just have to get the relevant points on. I wrote a draft application with my leaving care worker and that helped me break down the rubbish!

A good tip is to not leave the hobbies section on the application form blank like lots of people do! - Put something in because it shows you're committed to something. Also sell yourself in the personal information section - I wrote 2 pages!

4.Would you recommend an apprenticeship to care leavers reading this?
Yes! Definitely go for an apprenticeship. It gave me a routine, it gave me something to do instead of lazing around and I have met some amazing people. It's made me grow as a person and learn new things and now I can lead to a great future!

For more information ...
The Employability Development Team is developing a bank of apprenticeships, work experience placements and volunteering opportunities with a variety of local employers - for care leavers.

They run a drop in at the Connexions Centre, Wood Street, Wakefield every Tuesday 10am to 12pm.
Pop in a find out what opportunities await you.
Or give them a call on 01924 304100.

If you would like to contact us, please ring Sarah on 01924 304195, email participate@wakefield.gov.uk or contact us now via the site