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Information, advice and support for young people in Hampshire. Apprenticeships, drop-ins, careers and qualifications, finding a job and much more
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Like all staff at Hampshire County Council, apprentices are entitled to holiday, so how has Carly got on after she has been away from the office for a while? Here she is: "Returning from leave when you’ve been off for a while can be tricky. You need to check your emails and maybe even have a meeting with your manager if any major changes have been made whilst you’ve been away. When I came back from leave, I found the easiest way to get up to speed with things again was to firstly skim through my emails and flag up any that seemed important. After skimming through the emails, I returned to the flagged ones to see if any action needed to be taken on them. Talking with colleagues helped me a lot, because they were able to inform me of any changes and I could talk through the emails I had and if I needed to take any action on them, or find out whether my colleagues had already handled them. The important thing when you come back from leave is to not take on all of your work at once, or you will end up stressed and might not even do the work up to the standard you would normally. I find taking on one task at a time in order of importance is a good way to reduce stress when returning from leave."
There's more to our apprenticeships than working in an office. Here's Shannon on a recent "Away Day" and building team skills: "When I found out about our team-building away day I was so excited. I was bouncing off the walls for about two weeks beforehand, then finally it arrived. I think I might have turned into a five year old child at Christmas I was so excited. The train to Winchester felt like it took forever. Even though it was only twenty minutes it felt like hours. A friend and colleague of mine who was also attending was looking at me as if I had gone completely mad, but I didn’t care. When I got to Winchester I practically ran to EII Court, I didn’t want to be late. I waited, bouncing on the spot for the minibus to take us there and I didn’t care what people thought. This was going to be a fun day. When we got there I just wanted to jump in the river I was so happy! I had to stem my childlike excitement for about half an hour whilst we did a session on personal learning, thinking skills and getting to know the new apprentices that had just started. This was very interesting and enjoyable. Then I saw a man walk past with a kayak and my excitement flooded back. I started bouncing in my seat. The people sat around me thought it was very funny how excited I was. We stood and listened to the man talk about health and safety and the do’s and don’ts of kayaking. He loved my enthusiasm. Then we got to the kayaks and I felt giddy, I thought I was going to explode. Suddenly I got very nervous, but it didn’t last long. Within minutes I was on the water doing something I had never done before and loving every second (even though I was terrible at it and kept going round in circles). The best part was towards the end when we were set the task of running across the front of the kayaks whilst they were all lined up. I went to stand and fell in straight away, which was very funny for me and everyone who saw! I then got back in my kayak and continued, only to fall out again. After that I just stayed in the water and made friends with some of the jellyfish that live in the river (they don’t sting). Overall the whole day was amazing and I learned a lot. I’m happy that I got to know my fellow apprentices a little better."
This month, we'll be hearing from Hantsdirect apprentice, Carly. Here's how she started her apprenticeship: "I work in Parkway for Hantsdirect in Fareham. I started my job here in April and started my apprenticeship a couple of months later. I have worked in the restaurant industry for the past 11 years and at the age of 27 I decided to take on this opportunity and I am really enjoying it! My apprenticeship group are a great bunch of people and I really enjoy meeting them every Wednesday. A couple of weeks after starting my job, I found out I was pregnant. My tutors Trevor and Stacey have been 100% there for me with this and are really helping me get through my coursework. I go on leave at the beginning of October. I will have to delay my apprenticeship, which is a shame but I have been told I can continue it once I’m back to work. I really glad I can do this as I want to complete it! My main role at Hantsdirect is to work alongside the concessionary travel team processing applications and taking calls for enquires. I also work alongside the team that processes Blue Badges for disabled people. I live in Southampton so I drive into work every day. Traffic can be a pain but I get through it eventually! My shift starts at 8:30. I arrive for about 8:15 so I can get myself logged in all the systems I need to use. I am usually the first to start on my team so I have to get the cupboard keys and remove all the previous working days’ unfinished work. Depending on the phone rota, I will either start on the applications or get my headset on! The rest of my team are in by 10:00 and they set up and start on the bits that need doing. Hannah, James and Lottie are the main people on my team. James is currently helping the Blue Badge team as they are a little behind. Hannah is the team supervisor. We call her Miss CT as she knows everything there is needed to know. She trained me on the work I needed to learn. Lottie is currently doing the same role as me, but she will be leaving us beginning of October. Monday morning is always tiring. After having a relaxing weekend, the last thing anyone wants to do is work, but we all do it! Lottie is off this week so Hannah and I have fair bit to catch up on. Neither of us were taking calls so we could get the admin work completed. I had a observation with Trevor this week and a review. He sat and spoke about my job role and watched me take phone calls. I set myself a couple of small targets. As I am going on maternity in four weeks, I will be set extra work to try and make up for the time I am on leave. Wednesday is our apprenticeship training day and this week we all met in Winchester. We had customer service training with our tutor Lorna. It was a longer day than usual but we all managed to complete the task that was set that day. Back to work Thursday and Friday. We had so much work to catch up on, so it was head down, music in and crack on with it. Starting to count the days 'til my maternity leave!"
So if you do decide to do an apprenticeship with us, what kinds of opportunities are there for you to develop your skills even more? Here's Chris on becoming a PA (Personal Assistant). "Since becoming an apprentice I’ve taken on more responsibilities as I’ve gone along, and more recently I’ve taken up some Personal Assistant (PA) / Admin Support tasks. Becoming a PA is interesting, and something I am still learning about! For me, being a PA is all about developing an effective working relationship with whoever you are supporting, it’s about learning about what they do and how they work. For example, managing someone else’s calendar sounds relatively simple, but at the same time it means learning about the kind of work someone else does so that you can begin to know their time, meeting and work priorities. In work we often find ourselves in our bubbles, not knowing exactly how our colleagues work, even if we are always chatting! So, it is an interesting process learning about someone else’s work. There is a lot of learning as you go - you learn an extra bit with each phone call, email and conversation, there are no set plans or booklet on how to do things, you build up routines over time, and admittedly I still have far to go! However as someone who is just starting out, it’s a great opportunity to widen my knowledge and experience of the organisation I work in. As HCC is such a broad organisation there are plenty of areas that you wouldn’t normally see, and being a PA gives you a window into these areas, which can only be a good thing – it can also push you out of your existing comfort zone (depending on the situation of course), which is good for further developing confidence. At the same time, you develop your time management skills and how to effectively control a calendar, skills which are useful wherever and whatever you’re doing. I know that there are occasionally some misconceptions around being a PA, like it is some sort of all consuming task – HCC isn’t a mirror of The Devil Wears Prada! And, you don’t have to be on call 24/7 seven days a week, nor are you given solely the boring work – there is often great variety and you are often given work depending on what you are good at and what interests you. Being a PA is not the only thing I do – being a PA takes up less than a fifth of my time, and is just part of the wide variety of people I work with and tasks I do regularly. However at the same time I’m glad I was given the chance to take on this responsibility, so far it has been a great and interesting experience and I certainly wouldn’t discourage it!"
So where would our apprentices be if they hadn't chosen to work with us? Here's Shannon: "It’s hard to think what I would be if I wasn’t an apprentice. If I hadn’t found this I probably would have been stuck in a dead end job, or jobless not going anywhere. I`m fairly inquisitive and I always want to know more. On this apprenticeship I’m in a job I didn’t know I could have. I consider myself very lucky, for a lot of young people it is difficult to find any kind of employment! I have a history in beauty, which I really enjoyed (and I still enjoy it), but I had done the same thing for three years and I wanted to try something new, something I had never done before. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else, I love my job! I never thought that this line of work would suit me at all, but I was so wrong, getting to work with a wide range of people and getting my name out there. I have a fair few contacts in Childrens and Adult Services, CCBS and the Legal Department, which will no doubt come in handy. Being an apprentice has built my confidence up so much. One of my biggest fears was public speaking and at the end of March I did a speech in front of about 60 people on my own! This, for me is a massive achievement, I’m so proud of everything I have done in my role, getting to know how the Council works and also knowing what I do makes a difference. I have been working for the Council casually for two years as a Care Ambassador which has helped me a lot, especially with my presentation skills and confidence, but now I work 9-5 in a very busy office. Everything in my life has fallen in to place and it would have never happened if I wasn’t on this apprenticeship."
What is it like when you first start an apprenticeship at Hampshire County Council? Here's Emma: "When I first got my apprenticeship it was all mixed emotions. I was excited yet everything was about to change. For the first month of beginning my apprenticeship with Hampshire County Council (HCC) I had training at HantsDirect; a place where they take calls from all over Hampshire about various services that the Council supplies. During my time at HantsDirect I learnt all about the Council, what it does; the services it offers and the way employees work. In the first two weeks we learnt how to answer phone calls about specific topic areas, such as payments; we also got the opportunity to shadow others and see what it was really like to take a call from a member of public. Within these two weeks I got to make new friends with those who were in my training group. It was so nice to get on with everyone in my group. It put me at ease. For the last two weeks on my training at HantsDirect I got put onto ‘live’ calls. This meant that I was talking to customers, members of public and I was either resolving their issue or passing them onto the correct department. Every day for these two weeks we had a member of staff to cover us, which meant that we always had someone there to ask for help if we got stuck on a call. As well as taking calls on a daily basis we had to complete some units of coursework. This included doing some research and then typing up what we had and making sure that it linked up with the criteria we were given. After my month at HantsDirect it was time to move on and go into my actual work place. Yet again more change, new place, new people, new tasks of work to do! It was so weird going into a different building and not knowing anyone. It was like I was starting a completely new job. On my first day I got shown around and met everyone in the office, it was all too much to take in at once, but after a few days it felt normal. Everyone was so welcoming it made me feel more comfortable. On my first day I got given a few little jobs from some people within the office. It was slow at first and I kept asking “what shall I do next?”. Slowly I settled in and people within the office started to realise that they could come to me and give me jobs, so over time my workload increased. That’s what I like most, doing jobs for more than one person. It means that you get to know more people in the office quicker; as I am a very sociable person this was just right for me."
Looking forward to Make It Happen at Manor Farm Country Park tomorrow, there'll be loads of activities and a chance to find out more about our programmes! Last chance to register- email email@example.com
Good luck to all those starting back at college or 6th form today and tomorrow. If you do need some support please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to one of our apprentices, who has successfully made it through to the next round of the National Apprenticeship Awards..
Let's hear from our Finance Apprentice, Becky, and find out what she has been up to for the final time this month: "I can’t believe this is my last blog! August has come and gone so fast, the weather’s not been great especially this week. Today is finally looking a bit more like summer, well what Britain calls summer. This week has gone fast too, I’ve been doing a lot of training this week as my colleague is leaving on Friday. I feel like I’ve learnt a lot though and I like having lots of things to do and being busy. On Monday my train was delayed, so it wasn’t a great start to the week. To make it feel even more like a Monday, it was pouring down. I started my training by processing reactive power invoices. This is basically just a more complicated electricity invoice. People think I’m mad because I enjoy the more complicated ones, I really like maths and dealing with numbers so I think that’s why I enjoy it. Surprise, surprise it was raining again on Tuesday. I focused on gas invoices today, and learnt how to work out the split VAT on them. Once again, I enjoyed this more than a simple invoice because there are more workings out and more numbers to deal with. I didn’t have my apprenticeship day this Wednesday, so I carried on doing split VAT. I also processed some unmetered water invoices, I’ve never done these before but they are actually easier than processing metered water. For the last few days I’ve been putting my training together and have been processing split VAT on reactive power and multi meter gas invoices. It feels like I’ve achieved a lot this week and I have a clear to do list next week as I will be working on my own on Energy. I know next week might be a bit stressful as the schools are back; this affects the energy team quite a lot. As my colleague is leaving, I’ve been intrusted to take over the Energy Management team with one over person. This means that I’ve learned how to deal with queries, remittance advice; how to do rates and make sure I do the rates run every month. I will also be partly in charge of the energy inbox. I’m looking forward to a three day weekend this week, as Monday is bank holiday. I can’t believe Tuesday will be September! Next week is a short week for me as well as I’m off on Friday and have the following week off as holiday. My brother’s getting married on Saturday 5th September so that will be exciting too. I’ve really enjoyed blogging for the last month; hopefully I will get to do it again. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!"