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Care leaver apprenticeship at Devon County Council’s country parks

In 2018, a senior workforce development adviser in Devon County Council’s HR Team worked closely with the Highways Service to identify an opportunity for a ringfenced apprenticeship for care leavers at the Grand Western Canal and Stover country parks.

Identifying and recruiting an apprentice

The recruitment process included contacting professionals that work directly with care leavers to identify young people that were interested in the role, an organised bus trip to Stover and the Grand Western Canal for young people to find out more, and an informal assessment day.

There were five young people interested in the role, and from this two young people applied and attended both the trip and the assessment day.

The organised trip gave the young people a chance to explore Stover Park and the Canal, meet the rangers and understand what a day working there would be like.

The assessment day included activities like building a bird box and strimming grass. There was also an informal interview at the end of the day to ensure the young people were comfortable and to get the best out of them.

After the assessment day, one young person was appointed, and accepted the chance to take on the great offer of an apprenticeship within Devon County Council.

Training and development involved

When the young person started working at the country parks, he was quiet and struggled with confidence as he had never experienced working in this kind of environment before.

King Maurward College in Dorchester was the closest education provider for an environmental conservation apprenticeship, so the young person also had to travel from Newton Abbot to Dorchester to attend their day at college, which was a huge commitment, and he worked hard to attend the lessons.

In addition, he had to undertake functional skills (maths) classes with Learn Devon, which he found difficult at times, but extra one-to-one tuition support was funded via Step Forward and he was able to gain a Level 1 in Maths, which then supported him with successfully completing his environmental conservation apprenticeship.

Through all these challenges, Step Forward worked with the young person, their manager, the senior workforce development adviser and Children’s Services to provide support as required.

We were lucky enough to receive a lovely quote from the young person about their experience with the apprenticeship and the programme:

“Step Forward gave me the confidence to believe in myself to get a job that I enjoy doing.”

It is evident that the support that this young person received from his manager, HR and Step Forward, helped him to build his confidence, believe in himself and develop important employability skills which allowed him to go on and succeed independently.

It is important to highlight the fact that, all the way through his apprenticeship, the young person was resilient and brave, not only for putting himself out there, but for seeing it through.

Stepping Forward…..

Following the successful completion of the apprenticeship, the young person worked hard to obtain further employment. He used the employability skills he’d developed and his learning through the apprenticeship to apply for a role within an organisation he had undertaken additional work experience with whilst on the Step Forward Programme, and was offered a permanent job.

We are so happy for him that he has found employment in environmental conservation doing something he enjoys, and this is a testament to his hard work and the great support of his manager, HR and Step Forward.