'I chose the apprenticeship route and this is a decision that I will never look back on with any regrets' - celebrating the value of apprentices as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2021
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During National Apprenticeships Week, Staffordshire Police’s first ever apprentice Lee Garrington is absolutely certain of the opportunities his course provided him.
“Had I not gained the valuable experience and confidence my course equipped me with then I don’t believe I would have pursued this,” he says of his new role he is undertaking with the force.
And as the week celebrating the success of apprentices continues, two more vacancies have opened up to offer candidates another chance to begin a career with Staffordshire Police.
“I started my employment with Staffordshire Police in April 2019 as an apprentice security and reception officer based at headquarters,” Lee added. “While undertaking my general day-to-day routines I was enrolled onto a Business Administration Level 3 course.”
With that completed and his certificate now in his hands after a presentation at Staffordshire Police HQ with Director of People and Resources Justine Kenny, Lee is embarking on the next stage of his career as a Business Services Assistant.
“I can honestly say it has been a positive and rewarding experience,” he said. “As part of my apprenticeship I had to have dedicated 20 per cent ‘off-the-job’ learning time which involved experiencing different areas of the police as well as completing tasks for my course. The team that I was working with provided me with plenty of opportunities to gain further knowledge and learn new areas.
“There were areas within my apprenticeship that were difficult, but as a team we overcame them and I always had support throughout from my manager, colleagues and other members of staff.
“Completing the course directly led to me applying for a secondment position with the Business Services team. Had I not gained the valuable experience and confidence my course equipped me with then I don’t believe I would have pursued this.
“At Staffordshire Police I believe there is a culture for developing and getting the best out of individuals to not only improve ourselves as members of staff but also the service we provide to the public.”
And Kieran Firkins, who is undertaking a Level 4 AAT Accounting Apprenticeship as part of becoming a full-time Accounts Receivable and Banking Officer for the force, agrees.
“I chose the apprenticeship route and this is a decision that I will never look back on with any regrets,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity of earning while learning to support me as a young adult, and it also opened the doors for my long-term career as I will receive my professional qualifications at the end of the course.
“I could not be more grateful for the help and expertise Staffordshire Police have shown in me through my time with them so far. I am sure that as I keep on progressing through my final year as an apprentice I will still receive a massive amount of support until I reach my end goal.”
And he had a message for anyone else thinking of taking the route into work.
“If this is something you would be considering I would grab the chance immediately if it arises,” he added. “It provides you with great experience in the workplace which is something that all employers look for, and it enables you as an individual to build a positive network.”
Staffordshire Police currently have two vacancies open for apprentices to join the force and learn as they work. The first is as an Apprentice Solicitor while the second is for a Finance Apprentice, both committing to 37 hours a week.
And Staffordshire Police’s Apprenticeship Manager Rebecca Crellin believes they are “highly valuable” and would suit anyone looking to “learn on the job”.
“Apprenticeships are highly valuable because they offer an opportunity for the apprentice to put into practice what they learn immediately within the workplace,” Rebecca added. “They make improvements where applicable and offer the force something different.
“For this reason, there are already plans in place to take on many more apprentices in the next year.”
Since Lee started his learning, the apprenticeships available in the organisation have grown. There are currently 181 apprentices learning while working across the force. The government had set a target to have 2.3% of the workforce undertaking apprenticeships by next month – but Staffordshire Police had already achieved 3.93% of the workforce doing so by last March.
Between April 2019 and March last year 20% of all new starters across the force were apprentices, and that included 62% of police officer intakes.
“Since Lee began his apprenticeship we have seen a significant increase in opportunities across the force,” Rebecca added. “Most of these have been focused on the newly available Police Officer Degree Apprenticeships, which have allowed us to support more than 180 officers in learning and working at the same time.
“We have also seen an increase in police staff apprenticeships in different support functions such as data analysis, procurement, accountancy and finance, so the trend to support learning on the job while working has seen a definite positive increase.”