One of the initial and key concepts of Gateway was to provide a supported step into work, and one of the first steps we offer is an apprenticeship placement.
We have a long history with apprenticeships. Some years ago we ran a large apprenticeship programme providing apprentices to a number of PCTs. Unfortunately, due to the way funding has changed, it’s now difficult to offer the qualification element unless you’re a larger provider. More recently we’ve been involved as the work placement provider and over the past three years we’ve benefited from six apprentices.
Our culture at Gateway is to offer a nurturing, supportive atmosphere for people to work and learn, and we feel that apprenticeships offer people a good start – a practical introduction to a career, giving people experience, pay and opportunity.
For people on placement, we offer a realistic view of the world of work, but we also recognise people’s potential and work with them to identify opportunities. We provide a supported work experience, to build confidence and resilience, and eventually give apprentices the reins to do as much as they can on their own.
During their work placement at Gateway, apprentices become part of the staff team. Some go on elsewhere, with work experience and references under their belts, but many go on to become full time employees with Gateway. Currently our staff includes a number of recent apprentices – Beckie and Shah work full time in our Lighten Up team and Sajida has become a full time Office Administrator, which includes the role of Interpreters Agency Administrator.
Sajida did a 12 month apprenticeship with St Paul’s Community Development Trust, which gave her an NVQ Level 2 in Business Admin and included a work placement at Gateway. She worked in the Gateway office as an admin assistant, receiving full training and the opportunity to work in different areas of the business over the year.
Sajida says, “I wanted to do an apprenticeship because it gives you an immediate opportunity to work your way up. It’s a small step that can lead to a bigger step. You get paid while you’re doing it and you gain experience and confidence as you go along. It also means you’re in a good position when new job opportunities come up.
“The placement at Gateway gave me experience in many areas – not just in office admin and HR, but also interpreting – and it really built my confidence, which had been a bit knocked in previous jobs.”
After the apprenticeship, Sajida applied for the job of Office Administrator at Gateway, which includes the admin for our Interpreting Agency. Michelle Bluck, who recruited for the role, says:
“We had quite a few applications but Sajida’s application form was of a very high standard – it was clear she’d really thought about the role and how she would tackle it. She gave a flawless interview, with good examples of different work scenarios to show how adaptable she can be. Now she’s in the role, she’s definitely living up to that potential. She’s got good work ethics; she’s reliable, adaptable and sets a good standard. And the client feedback we get from the interpreters service is very positive – clients praise the efficient service, smooth booking process and professional admin support – and that’s all down to Sajida.”
Watch Sajida talk about her apprenticeship and how she’s getting on at Gateway: