A day in the life of an apprentice … Part six

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

Today is the final day in the series and Catriona tells us about the CDN Marketing Awards.

_________________________________________________________________

Last night the marketing team attended the College Development Network Marketing Awards in Edinburgh. The ceremony was held in the Ghillie-Dhu and we won three silver and one bronze awards! One of the awards was for digital marketing – it’s great for me to be doing my apprenticeship in an award-winning team.

Ayrshire College

After the excitement of the CDN awards last night, it is time to get back to work. I decide to start my day with writing and scheduling social media posts on Facebook and Twitter to promote the #Respect campaign that the College is running. The Respect campaign encourages everyone to ‘Respect Yourself’, ‘Respect the Community’, ‘Respect the Environment’ and ‘Respect People’. The posts I scheduled link to the interviewing the College’s Front of House team blogs, they are a great insight into another team in the College. Read the series here:

https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/category/respect-campaign/

Next, I start working on scheduling posts for an exciting conference that the College are holding later this month called Ayrshire Bytes, which is part of DataFest17, a week of activities focused on data innovation. The Ayrshire Bytes conference will present a range of perspectives on data innovation and best practice, and showcase Scotland’s leading role in this area. There are going to be some great guest speakers attending, including Gillian Docherty, Chief Executive of The Data Lab, Brendan Faulds, Associate Director at NHS National Services Scotland, Vicky Brock, Chief Executive of Clear Returns, Daniel Macintyre, Senior Manager of Glasgow Tourism Strategy and Craig Hume, Managing Director of Utopia Computers and Richard Millar, Senior Manufacturing Systems Engineer at Spirit AeroSystems.

At the end of the day, I catch up with my boss Shelagh, and she gives me feedback on the work I’ve been doing that week. We then agree on my goals for the following week and this gives me clear instructions on what I need to work towards.

So, that’s my blog finished for Scottish Apprenticeship Week, I hope you’ve enjoyed having an insight into what it’s like working as a Modern Apprentice for Ayrshire College. My role is so varied and I’m always kept busy from day-to-day and I am always learning new skills. I am so lucky to have been given this opportunity at Ayrshire College, and I love working as a Modern Apprentice. It was definitely the right route for me to take, if you’re thinking of applying for an apprenticeship I would say go for it! It’s the best decision I have made.

Meet the Apprentice – Eva Mackie, EGGER (UK) Limited, Barony Plant

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

Last up this week, we have Eva Mackie from EGGER (UK) Limited.


2.JPGEva was a dental nurse for four years before becoming an Environmental Laboratory Technician Apprentice with EGGER (UK) Limited at the Barony plant in Auchinleck, Ayrshire.

She began her apprenticeship in August 2016 and is delighted to have made the decision to change career paths when she did.

Eva, 22, said: “I just fancied a total change. I was bored, I didn’t like my job anymore and when I saw this opportunity I thought ‘I like the sound of that’.

“After my first day here, I remember going home and thinking to myself ‘oh no, what have I done’. From the second day onwards, however, that completely changed.  I’ve learned so much and would definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone.”

EGGER (UK) Limited’s, Barony plant is a modern, hi-tech chipboard plant which employs over 115 people.

The company has a well-developed apprenticeship scheme, and recruits mechanical and electrical apprentices annually.  However, this is the first time they have employed a laboratory apprentice.

Eva said; “Everyone on the site knows that I’m the first apprentice in the lab, so they always go out of their way to help me. I can ask anybody anything.

“My job involves testing the different surfaces, which I test for moistures, densities and sieves. We get samples every day from the water outlet at the front of the factory, which we are testing for ammonium, formaldehyde, COD and phosphate. We run these tests to ensure we are within the regulations with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

“I see this as a long term career with a stable and sustainable company. There are plenty of opportunities to develop, gain extra training and progress my career.”

Eva is supervised by Wendy Cumming, Quality and Environmental Controller, who Eva calls “a massive help”.

Wendy said; “Eva is a breath of fresh air who is keen and quick at learning, which is important in this job as no two days are ever the same. It’s good to see another female in the production area too.

“Apprenticeships are very important. This is the first year we have had a lab apprentice and it is great to see the Barony apprenticeship scheme developing. In order to support succession planning we need the apprentices of today to undertake our specialist roles of tomorrow, to be more diverse and ultimately they are the future of EGGER.”

Meet the Apprentice – Martin Frew, Wallace McDowall Ltd

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

On Monday we heard from Craig Stobbs of Ayrshire Precision, on Tuesday we introduced you to GE Caledonian Ltd’s Tracey Govan and on Wednesday we met Louis Kerr from Watermiser.

Earlier today we heard from Colin McEwan of Woodward Aircraft Engine Systems, next up is Martin Frew from Wallace McDowall Ltd.


Wallace McDowall Ltd, based in Monkton, was established over 47 years ago as a sheet metal fabricator. Over the years, they have grown into one of the UK’s leading sub-contract engineering companies.

Martin, 19 from Kilwinning, is a Welder and Fabricator Apprentice at Wallace McDowall Ltd.

IMG_7991

Martin said “I was at college last year doing the Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) course, which was a good head start in this industry.  The course covered a few aspects of the engineering industry, and I got to know what I enjoyed doing the most, which turned out to be welding.

After I had finished the course, I started applying for jobs that were advertised at the College which ended up with me becoming a Welder and Fabricator apprentice.

First thing in the morning, the supervisor gives me a job spec and I just get on with it.  I enjoy being an apprentice. I like being left to myself to get on with the job.  I’m in college one day a week, and the rest of the time I’m working.  I mostly work on my own, but if I need help I can go to supervisors or they’ll talk me through the job.

Getting hands-on experience is definitely the main benefit of being an apprentice.  There’s so many people I work with that can pass on their knowledge or give advice when I need it, so it’s good to have all of that to hand.  For me, it’s an easier way to learn.

Just being able to get my trade papers is great.  I’ve not decided where I want to be when I finish here, but it’ll definitely be a career in welding.”

IMG_7990

 

Meet the Apprentice – Colin McEwan, Woodward Aircraft Engine Systems

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

On Monday we heard from Craig Stobbs of Ayrshire Precision, on Tuesday we introduced you to GE Caledonian Ltd’s Tracey Govan and on Wednesday we met Louis Kerr from Watermiser.

Next up is 18-year-old Colin McEwan from Saltcoats who is in the first year of his apprenticeship with Woodward Aircraft Engine Systems, based in Prestwick.


IMG_7933Woodward Aircraft Engine Systems is an independent designer, manufacturer, and service provider of control solutions for the aerospace and industrial markets.

Colin said “I’m a hands-on kind of person and was always interested in going down the engineering route. I found out about Woodward through a school visit at Ardrossan Academy in fourth year.  I kept in contact and asked if I could arrange some work experience, which I did a few months later.

The week’s work experience was really useful as I received a lot of feedback. The best advice I received about how to get into the engineering industry was to do the Performing Engineering Operations (PEO) course at Ayrshire College.  Just as I was about to finish the PEO course, I contacted Woodward.  As it turned out, I got a trial, then got started as an assembly apprentice and have now been here for 7 months.

At the moment I am getting trained on working the controls, so that means stripping them down and building them back up.  On a typical day, we have a team meeting with the section.  I find out what I’ll be working on and who I’m working with.  I have specific one-to-one training every day and I’ll stay in each section for about 8 weeks, before moving onto the next.  It’s really good training at Woodward as you get the chance to find out about every part of the industry.  In my second year, I’ll be in a more specific section, the first year is more general.

IMG_7935

I would definitely like to stay at Woodward once I complete my apprenticeship and learn as much as I can.  It’s a fairly small company and I’d like to try to develop my skills here.

I love the amount of hands-on work I get to do here, everyone’s great to work with too.  I hope to develop into the engineering side of things in the aviation industry later on, so would go to university, and eventually work my way up in the aviation industry.

An assessor needs to be enthusiastic and motivated for students

During Scottish Apprenticeship Week we thought it would be good to do a series of blogs called, “Meet the Assessor.” These are designed to help employers and apprentices gain an insight into the role of an assessor.

Next in the series is Grace Coughtrie who is a Social Care SVQ Assessor.

_________________________________________________________________

Grace Coughtrie Blog Photo

My role is to support and guide students throughout their award by assessing, verifying and observing their work.

I am enthusiastic and motivated to provide a good knowledge and understanding to students, to ensure that the service that is provided to vulnerable individuals within our community is the best it can be.

I have worked full-time within the field of social care in a variety of different roles and sections; from a care worker, to manager, to vocational development officer, and then assessor/verifier for 35 years. Currently, I am an assessor within elderly care, childcare, learning disabilities, and mental health.

I have also been involved in social care inductions for new individuals coming into work within the care sector. This involves the delivery of a variety of different training subjects that are relevant to working within care.

My background in care is what has prepared me with the relevant qualifications, skills and experience to assess awards in social care, as it is essential that all assessors must be competent in the area that they are assessing.

What does an assessor do?

An assessor has two essential roles. One role is more active; which involves asking questions, interacting, giving feedback, and recording. The second role is passive, which involves observing the student during their work.

It is the responsibility of an assessor/verifiers to organise, chair and distribute the minutes of the assessor/verification standardisation meetings for each vocational qualification/work-based award. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure that appropriate assessment materials are available for delivery, to monitor consistency of assessment decisions during delivery, and to review assessment work and delivery.

In my role, I visit a lot of different types of companies. Within the care sector I visit a large variety of organisations in criminal justice, homeless sector, residential for adults, respite for learning disabilities, care homes for adults, independent living, and GP surgeries. The health care sector is even bigger and would be an endless list of companies.

As an example; today I visited a student who works within the community care team that support individuals in their home. I offered my support and guidance in their reflective writing and encouraged them to follow the assessment process.

For a student to be successful in their award in Health and Social Care they would be required to be in permanent employment and working towards achieving an SVQ SCQF Level 6 or SCQF Level 7, which will be dependent on their role within the workplace. They will also be required to complete core skills in numeracy and ICT which they will participate in during college hours.

The assessment does not have to be time-consuming or difficult to complete. It can turn out to be an extremely useful and informative learning experience. So much depends on the assessor. Some advice I can give is if the following points are covered, the worst pitfalls will be overcome.

  • Give clear information to the student on the purpose of assessment and the assessment process.
  • Give clear information on what is being assessed.
  • Allow the student to ask questions and clarify the procedures.
  • Try to put the student at ease – assessment elicits strong emotions.
  • Remain in the background as much as possible.
  • Use language appropriate to the student.
  • Allow the student time to answer any questions fully.
  • Confirm achievement as soon as sufficient evidence is produced.
  • Carry out feedback sessions and encourage the student to discuss their performance and to learn from any mistakes.
  • Complete, sign and date all necessary paperwork to record results of a vocational qualification.

Being an assessor is a rewarding career. Ensuring that the service being provided to vulnerable individuals is the best it can be, is extremely important to the wellbeing of the community. Modern apprentices are vital to the health and care sector. It is also a great career path for a young person who wants to work in the industry.

Why Apprentices are key developing Ayrshires young workforce:

https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/apprenticeships-key-to-developing-ayrshires-young-workforce/

See our blog on 10 Reasons to Study for a Career in Care:  https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/10-reasons-to-study-for-a-career-in-care/

School – College Courses: Early Education and Childcare, Rebecca Nix and Amanda Barr: https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/school-college-partnership-programme-rebecca-nix-and-amanda-barr-3/

Meet the Apprentice – Louis Kerr, Watermiser

To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2017, we are introducing a number of students who are at various stages of their apprenticeships.

On Monday we heard from Craig Stobbs of Ayrshire Precision, and yesterday we introduced you to GE Caledonian Ltd’s Tracey Govan.

Next up is 19-year-old Louis Kerr from Newmilns who is in the first year of his apprenticeship with Watermiser, also based in Newmilns.

Louis Kerr.JPG

Watermiser specialises in water cooling solutions and is the sister company of Dustacco. This is the first year Watermiser has hired apprentices – two in total.

Louis said “I saw Watermiser’s advertisement in the College and was encouraged to apply for it. Obviously it’s very handy for me as it’s local, but they are also friendly people to work for. I’m six or seven months into the apprenticeship now and it’s been very good so far.

“My role at Watermiser is to help make the fibreglass cooling towers. I’ve also carried out welding tasks at Dustacco too, which helps with my college work. But I’m mostly at Watermiser.”

Louis is supervised at Watermiser by Alex Jamieson.

Alex is a big believer in the apprenticeship route and is keen to help Louis succeed in every aspect of the job.

He said “We’re all at the learning stage as this is the first year we’ve ever taken apprentices on. We have three other workers here. It did feel like we had no one coming in behind us to learn the business. So we had discussions and came up with the idea of going down the apprenticeship route.

“The type of work we do isn’t very common around here, it’s very specialised. It does take a bit of learning – not many people know what fibreglassing entails. We’ve not really got machines here, everything is done by hand so it’s labour intensive.

“Louis knows all he needs to do is ask if he’s unsure about anything. We tend to have him observe what we’re doing and then give him tasks to complete. An assessor from the College comes in every three months, and in between that we’ll sit down on a one-to-one basis to see how things are progressing as well.”

Louis added “I can see myself doing this for a long time. The aim when I finish my four year apprenticeship will be to make my way up the ladder at Watermiser as far as I can.”

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part three

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

It’s now day three of the series and Catriona attends an exciting training course to enhance her skills on LinkedIn. Here’s how she got on.

_________________________________________________________________

Tuesday pic

Normally on a Tuesday I attend a HNC Administration and IT class. In the morning I learn how to use spreadsheets and databases and in the afternoon I learn about office administration. The course has really helped me develop my computing skills for working in the office and would be a great course for anyone looking to get into an administration role. If you fancy it, applications are open for August start: http://ow.ly/nAoI309t7ml

However, today I’m not at my college class because the marketing team is on a LinkedIn training course. LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social networking service and I have been learning more about how to use it to its maximum potential. It seems to be a really useful tool for business and to raise your own profile online. This is another reason I love my job, I’m constantly learning new things and more than often they are skills that are transferable to other roles.

The training today was delivered by Gary Ennis from NS Design, it was really enjoyable and I have learned lots about how to use LinkedIn. We covered the benefits of using LinkedIn, how to optimise your own profile and I now have a clearer understanding of how to integrate LinkedIn to an overall digital marketing strategy which is really useful for my job.

For the last hour of work, Jennifer has asked me to write and schedule some posts for International Women’s Day which is on Wednesday, 8 March. This ties in nicely with another project I am currently working on, a network called Ayrshire Connects. Ayrshire Connects is a network which aims to connect females studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects across the College. So far, we have had meetings and lunches, and the students visited the University of Glasgow to meet with its female engineering society, FemEng. You can read about that visit here: https://ayrshirecollegeblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/ayrshire-connects-university-of-glasgow-visit/

My final job of the day was to email the photographer I am meeting with tomorrow to confirm times and meeting points. Read my blog tomorrow to find out about an exciting photo shoot I have planned.

 

A day in the life of an apprentice … Part two

In July 2016 Ayrshire College decided to hire modern apprentices in Marketing and ICT. The marketing apprenticeship is funded by the Ayrshire College Foundation.

Eight months into her apprenticeship we asked Catriona Cook, our Digital Marketing Apprentice, to write a diary of her day-to-day tasks to give an insight into what her job involves.

Here is what she got up to today!


8.20am – I arrive at the College and head up to the office, my start time is 8.45am but I like to get in, switch on my computer and make a coffee before settling down to my work.

9.00am – First thing I’ll do is check my emails and my diary to plan my day. I keep a daily journal of all the work I complete. I can use this for evidence for my portfolio which is how I am assessed during my apprenticeship. I write down what goals I want to achieve that particular day and tick them off as I go along.

10.30am – On a Monday, we have our Digital Team meeting. We discuss upcoming events that we need to promote, what needs to be updated on the website, where we are with new campaigns and projects, what social media posts have been scheduled and our plan for the plasma screens throughout the three campuses. During the meeting, I discuss what videos I have uploaded to the College website and what blogs are being promoted that week.

monday-pic-digital-marketing-team-meeting

12.00pm – Today we have a Supplier Networking Lunch for people who the Marketing Team work closely with, photographers and press etc. It is a chance to build relationships, learn about new media opportunities and network.  It is being hosted in Kilmarnock Campus restaurant, Salt & Barrel (www.saltandbarrel.co.uk). Myself and Jennifer, Digital Marketing Officer sat beside Ruth Blakely and Gerry Cassidy from Word on The Street Magazine. Lunch was delicious as always!

2.30pm – I gave the invited guests a tour of the new Kilmarnock Campus after lunch. The new building opened in October and it’s nice to get the chance to show it off.

4.00pm – For the last hour today I uploaded images to Instagram, I have been given responsibility for creating content for this app. I then scheduled some social media posts on the Scottish Workplace Journey Challenge (a challenge to get as many people as possible commuting to work by walking, cycling, public transport and lift-sharing). Ayrshire College staff can sign up here: https://scotland.getmeactive.org.uk.

I am really looking forward to tomorrow because I am going on a training day with my team. Check back here to find out how I get on.

#ScotAppWeek17

#thisayrshiregirlcan

Making Modern Apprenticeships accessible to all young people


kaheadshot2Kirsteen Allison
is an equalities adviser at Skills Development Scotland where she leads on disability. Her role is to tackle under representation in Modern Apprenticeships and training.

As we start to prepare for Scottish Apprenticeship Week in March, we asked Kirsteen to write a guest post on the importance of ensuring that all young people have access to apprenticeships.


I have a number of disabilities. I am hearing impaired and visually impaired. My speech is also slightly affected by my hearing impairment. Having these disabilities means I bring the perspective of a disabled person to my role.

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to persuade employers to recruit disabled people. I know how insensitive, ignorant and discriminative people can be. I know how hard it can be to ‘fit in’ to a new workplace.

A young disabled person leaving school, entering the world of work for the first time, is particularly vulnerable. They are unlikely to have any experience of applying for jobs or a job interview, so encountering an employer who has concerns about what support they may need, can be frightening and make the young person more inclined to ‘stick’ to a similar environment to school, such as college.

At that young age, they may have received no information on the support available in the world of work, what their rights are, and what the wide range of post school options are.

I had several part time jobs whilst at school and at university. However, it wasn’t until I graduated with my postgraduate diploma and got my first ‘real’ job at the age of 23 (in the same company I work for today) that I had any idea of Access to Work. This is a fund that can contribute towards the cost of any reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

This fund pays for my communication support to help me hear in meetings and equipment to help me hear on the phone. It enables me to do my job and do it well. If I had known about this sooner, it would have avoided many uncomfortable interview situations and misunderstandings in previous employment.

Take my first interview, after achieving my degree and before my postgraduate diploma. It got off to a bad start with the interviewer declaring “oh, you don’t look deaf!” If anyone knows how I should look, please tell me!

He then proceeded to ask me how much it would ‘cost’ his company to hire me. I was taken aback and unable to answer him properly. I did not know he was referring to my disabilities and the potential cost of supporting me. Furthermore, I had no idea how much it would ‘cost’ the company for support – how could I know?

I didn’t know what equipment or support was available to me, nor was I aware of Access to Work. Clearly the employer was not aware either, nor was he aware of the Disability Discrimination Act (as it was at that time) which would have prevented him from asking such questions.

So, what I try to do in my current role is inform young people, parents and teachers of the range of opportunities available after school and raise their awareness of Access to Work funding and other support that is available to them in the world of work. We’ve updated our websites with information on post-school options and videos of disabled young people undertaking a variety of apprenticeships.

We try to ensure that apprenticeships and training opportunities are as accessible as possible by proving training providers with equality training and resources on how to ensure they are recruiting diversely. We established the ASN Access Fund to fund reasonable adjustments on Employability Fund programmes. We have also been trying to challenge misconceptions about recruiting a disabled person.

We are having some good success.

Last year, one particular employer was concerned that it would be too dangerous to recruit a disabled person to an engineering apprenticeship. After speaking to myself, my colleagues and some disability organisations, they have now recruited a physically disabled apprentice.

However, we have a long way to go before we change the perceptions of every employer and indeed every disabled young person who may be thinking the world of work is not for them. We are always keen to hear from employers, disability organisations and disabled people on the work we are doing and answer any questions they may have.


Want to know more?

You can contact Kirsteen at kirsteen.allison@sds.co.uk. For more information on Modern Apprenticeships, visit www.apprenticeships.scot

10 reasons why you should study Engineering

DSC_0361

1. Solve problems. Engineers encounter a number of complex problems in their daily role, and they are tasked with finding the solutions. Studying engineering will allow you to become the person who designs and builds machines and structures to the best specifications possible.

2. Get your creative juices flowing! Solving these problems relies on a creative mind. Often you will need to think outside the box, so engineering is an excellent career for creative thinkers.

3. Work with talented people. Don’t worry though, you won’t have to fix it all yourself! Engineers often work in teams with like-minded creative thinkers.

4. Make a difference. Solving these solutions often allows cost-effective machines and structures to be created and maintained which benefit communities. You could make a real difference becoming an engineer.

5. It’s a hands-on job. An engineer’s working environment is definitely not like an office job. The job itself involves a lot of practical work as engineers design and build things.

6. You can earn decent money. If you are looking for a career that pays well, then engineering is definitely for you. There are many engineering roles out there that pay handsomely!

7. Opportunities to advance. There are plenty of opportunities available out there to climb the engineering career ladder, too.

8. You can travel the world. High quality engineers are always in demand. An engineer’s skills can be utilised all over the world, so you would have no problems finding a job overseas, if that’s your preference.

9. You can earn as you learn. Over 800 apprentices were trained at Ayrshire College in 2014/15, the latest figures available. Why not become one of them and combine your work with studying?

10. Enjoy your work. Engineers absolutely the work they do. Don’t believe us? Then hear directly from our students, who have spoken about their time working as apprentices in GSK, Prestwick Aircraft Maintenance, Spirit Aerosystems, and Woodward.