Before starting his apprenticeship with us, Josh had had various temporary roles including casual work at Washington and Freeman's Quay Leisure Centres. He also worked with young people from other countries teaching them English.
Josh decided that rather than go to university, an apprenticeship would suit his career goals best and looked at the local opportunities available. He was particularly impressed with our apprenticeship programme and the range of apprenticeships available so applied for several posts and was appointed as an apprentice accountancy technician.
Josh started his three-year apprenticeship in September 2019, based at County Hall, and is studying AAT qualifications on day release at New College Durham. As he lives locally, Josh can walk or cycle to work and college.
Josh said, 'I'm excited to start my career in accountancy and I'm looking forward to meeting new people and receiving a regular wage'.
A case study on business administration.
Callum Etherington joined us in September 2020 as a business admin apprentice in Bereavement Services studying for a Level 3 qualification in business admin which will take up to two years to complete.
Callum is really enjoying his apprenticeship which involves arranging interments, memorial applications, deed transfers and liaising with funeral directors and the general public.
Callum said, 'Starting my apprenticeship during the pandemic has meant that I am working from home, but it's been surprisingly straight forward. My colleagues, line manager and college tutor are very supportive making sure there's a balance between working on the job and my course work'.
Although Callum is working from home, using Microsoft Teams means Callum can stay in touch with the Apprenticeship Team and with other apprentices and this online support has really helped him settle in.
Callum chose an apprenticeship rather than continuing his education as he thought an apprenticeship would offer him the opportunity to gain a qualification and work experience at the same time.
He chose to apply for an apprenticeship with us because of the large range of services we offer and the opportunities for career development.
Callum said, 'My apprenticeship has helped me develop new skills and gain valuable work experience. I would recommend an apprenticeship as the first step on the career ladder,'
Callum has recently been appointed to a permanent role in the team and will continue studying for his qualification.
Before starting his apprenticeship with us, Andrew had been unemployed since December 2017. He began working with Durham Enable in 2022 and after attending a meeting at the job centre to discuss apprenticeships, he was excited by the opportunities the council had to offer.
Since joining the council, Andrew supports the Building Control team in the resources directorate and is working to achieve his Level 3 qualification with DurhamLearn.
He is working in a small yet busy department supporting with data entry. He is also involved with the planning department, attending regular design and review meetings, learning about urban design and information about new build estates across the county.
Andrew's apprenticeship has given him the opportunity to develop his admin and data entry experience, allowing him to build upon his previously achieved level 2 business admin qualification.
Sophie was finding it difficult to find employment and thought part of the problem was the range of skills and experience she currently had. An apprenticeship was a great way into full time employment and allowed Sophie to gain experience, skills and kick-start her career.
Sophie chose us because of the wide range of job roles we offer and our commitment to supporting residents and employees with disabilities. As a Business Admin Level 3 apprentice Sophie works in our payments team, her apprenticeship lasts for two years and provides on the job training which Sophie sees as a key benefit of an apprenticeship. Sophie has already improved her communication skills, which she can use both in and outside the workplace, this includes taking minutes at meetings which needs her to note information while still participating fully in the discussions taking place.
Being part of a team has been great for Sophie, who enjoys the opportunities to talk and learn from her team and manager. As someone who is neurodivergent Sophie has found it easy to fit in and get along with her colleagues who she finds supportive as she develops into her role.
A case study on civil engineering.
Luke Bromley started a civil engineering degree apprenticeship in 2019. The 19-year-old from Spennymoor works four days a week in his role with us and spends one day a week at Teesside University.
Luke's role involves installing traffic signals and refurbishing signals at sites across the county, as well as designing new installations. Although his normal place of work would be County Hall, he has been working from home for the past year through the Coronavirus pandemic.
Luke said: 'I did think about going to university but wasn't sure it was right for me full time and the work experience that I'm currently getting is invaluable. I've had fantastic support from everyone in the team, being made to fit in straight away, and I would love to stay in this role long-term.
"I love getting up every day to do what I do. I am being given more responsibility all the time and thanks to monthly reviews that I have at university, I can see how much progress I'm making so it has been brilliant to see how far I have come already. By designing and installing new signals or helping to repair them, we are helping to keep drivers safe across the county, and it feels really good to know that you have a role in that."
Supporting physical education in schools
A case study on supporting physical education in schools.
Apprentice Liam Robson is working in a local school coordinating and delivering school sport and motivating children to perform to the very best of their abilities.
As part of his L3 Supporting physical education in Schools apprenticeship Liam spends 4 days in a school and 1 day in college learning the skills needed to plan, deliver, assess and evaluate out-of-school activities, lunchtime and playtime activities and curriculum physical education/physical activity.
Since beginning his apprenticeship Liam has taken part in lots of useful training including first aid, safeguarding and restorative approaches to behaviour management.
Liam has set up sports competitions and activities that run during breaktimes and supported staff on school trips and residential visits. He assists in training pupils for sporting events and supports children in class with their learning.
Liam said, 'My dream job is to work with children and maybe go into teaching. An apprenticeship seemed like the ideal starting point".
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
A case study on Information and Communications Technology.
Previously a chef, Philip was made redundant after thirteen years in hospitality and decided it was time for a change and started to look for a job that would be both challenging and interesting.
Discovering that apprenticeships were still available to him at the age of 38, he thought that an opportunity at the council could be rewarding. He also hoped it would give him the chance to work on a variety of projects using different languages and technology. Philip now works within the ICT applications and development - internal applications team, studying to achieve a Level 3 Software Development qualification.
Before his apprenticeship, he had minimal knowledge of programming, but is now able to write simple code to build applications in C# and Python. He has also been working on rebuilding an application currently used by the transport department. The aim, to improve its functionality and bring it up to date in terms of the language used to build it. Philip also assists with testing other applications and remote software installations.
Working on different projects has challenged and interested Philip whilst generating great satisfaction as he is able to see what is achieved.
Due to the support Philip receives from his colleagues and managers, he is more confident communicating with people across the council. He also has opportunities to learn the skills he needs to progress his career and become a software developer.
31-year-old Kris was referred to our supported employment service DurhamEnable by staff at Consett Jobcentre.
Despite being well qualified through the Open University, Kris struggled with social anxiety and had only ever worked in voluntary roles.
DurhamEnable paired Kris with job coach Mel, who took the time to learn about Kris' skills and ambition to start a career in IT, seeing the opportunity to match Kris with an apprenticeship role within the council.
Mel said: "I supported Kris to complete his application forms - part of this work was helping Kris to recognise his skills, he would look at a job description and think he did not meet the criteria, he lacked confidence in himself."
Support from Mel helped Kris to recognise his strengths where he would have previously looked at a job advert and felt under qualified, and helped Kris overcome other barriers in how applications were worded.
Mel added: "Kris has autism and sees things as very black and white, so he has trouble seeing the grey areas in application requirements."
Kris' application was successful, and DurhamEnable was on hand to advise throughout the recruitment process. Mel liaised with recruitment leads to ensure reasonable adjustments were made. Reasonable adjustments allowed Kris to show his knowledge and skills fully in the interview and successfully gain an apprenticeship post.
After starting his apprenticeship, Kris was welcomed into his team and thrived in his work environment but struggled with the traditional learning atmosphere he had to be in for the academic part of his apprenticeship. DurhamEnable and our apprenticeships team were able to work together to set Kris up with an education provider that understood his needs and allowed him to learn in an environment suited to him.
Mel said: "There were loads of points where I thought Kris might walk away and give up, which is why I'm such an advocate for him. Because he didn't."
Team leader Kaveh said: "Kris is extremely focussed and hard working. He has great attention to detail and carries out all tasks assigned to him. He always ensures that record keeping is maintained accurately and concisely and has formed a really good working relationship within the team."
He added: "During the past few months, Kris has gained confidence and deals with customers in a polite and professional manner. He is an asset to the team and to the apprenticeship programme."
The opportunity and support has allowed Kris to continue to progress in his career, applying for and successfully gaining a promotion within IT services.
A case study on procurement.
Before joining us, Ella was unsure what to do with her future. After carrying out some research she decided an apprenticeship would be the best route for her. With family members already working for the council, she was aware of the opportunities for growth and development with great support.
Ella now works as an apprentice for our procurement business and sales team. Ella is working towards her qualification in commercial procurement and supply, and is really enjoying her apprenticeship which involves creating contract documents and speaking with a variety of suppliers.
Her role relies strongly on organisation, including managing timescales and ensuring all clients are kept aware of what stage their project is at. Improved problem solving means she now has the skills to ensure all clients and suppliers needs are catered for. Her role has given her the opportunity to develop skills and attributes which contribute to both her efficiency and career development.
Being assigned a mentor has meant that Ella has been able to assist in larger, more complex projects, whilst developing her own workload and learning. Not only does she receive support and training from our apprenticeship scheme, but her colleagues also provide great support and advice, helping Ella to constantly improve.
Ella says "I would highly recommend an apprenticeship with Durham County Council to family and friends as they have been extremely helpful so far along my apprenticeship journey. The apprenticeship experience allows you to progress in your career and offers great support. I also feel the apprenticeship scheme itself is really useful as it allows you to meet other apprentices who you may work with in the future and encourages you to meet people outside of your team who are going through the same experience as you."
Ciaran is a Highway Design Apprentice Engineer. He had his sights set on achieving a place on the Degree Apprenticeship programme with us, but after an unsuccessful application, he enrolled onto a Civil Engineering Degree course at Northumbria University. However, a year into his course the opportunity arose to reapply for the apprenticeship route, which Ciaran believed would greatly benefit his career, and this time his application was successful.
Since transferring to the day release route, Ciaran has seen improvements in his confidence, which he puts down to the practical experience he receives on the job.
Cairan says "I think I learn better by doing something rather than reading about it so for me the apprenticeship was a great option. My typical day could be working on computer-aided design (CAD) to produce technical drawings, attending site meetings, estimating and creating a scheme pack which my manager uses to order materials. The best part for me is seeing all my work brought to life by the in-house operational teams, which I find very rewarding."
Matthew wanted to change the industry he was working in and he'd heard that our apprenticeships are a great way into a new role as you're not only learning in a classroom, you're also learning on the job which is what he prefers. Matthew did quite a lot of research into apprenticeships before deciding to apply, as it was a massive decision for someone doing really well in his current job.
Matthew works in our Home Improvement Agency (HIA) and is doing a level 4 building studies apprenticeship. He is currently surveying properties of disabled and older people who need potentially life changing adaptions to make their life easier, alongside a qualified surveyor. His role also includes office based work to ensure everything runs smoothly.
The formal education element of his apprenticeship is provided by Hartlepool college on day release, but Matthew is also learning important communication and customer service skills alongside surveying and building knowledge from other members of his team.
Matthew enjoys working with everyone on the HIA team and they have been very welcoming and made Matthew feel valued since day one. Matthew loves that he's helping County Durham's older and disabled people in his role and says it's a great place to learn and challenge your abilities, further yourself or even change jobs. Matthew hopes to work here for many years to come.