As National Apprenticeship Week gets well underway, two Suffolk success stories worth shouting about are Sam Hope, a childcare worker who is completing an apprenticeship at the YMCA where she once lived, and Nelly Keen, who went from Saturday girl to barista queen
What started as a Saturday job for Nelly Keen at school has turned into a career she loves – thanks to an apprenticeship. Now in her fifth year working at Applaud Coffee in the Saints area of Ipswich, the 20-year-old has competed all her training and when the shop is able to re-open, she will start in her new supervisor role.
Telling her story for National Apprenticeship Week, Nelly urged other young people, who don’t want to go to college, to take up the opportunity of on-the-job training. ‘I never really got on with academic learning at high school and the thought of going to college was a bit intimidating,’ she says.
‘I feel a lot of people look down on apprenticeships and don’t think they are a good thing, but I wouldn’t change what I did for anything.’
Nelly was just 16 and still at school when she started working a few hours at the Grade II listed shop on St Peter’s Street in June 2016. Initially she was collecting trays and washing up, but she quickly developed a passion for the world of coffee and arranged to go on a course in London.
Owners Hannah Huntly and Beth Cook could see she had plenty of promise and, with the support of Government funding, Nelly began an apprenticeship when she was 17.
She worked 30 hours a week and learned in the shop, achieving her Level 2 Hospitality Team Member Apprenticeship. Her training covered everything from serving food and drink to customers and handling payments to using a specialist coffee machine.
She was guided and supported through her training by hospitality assessor Andrea Thompson from Suffolk New College School of Commercial Services, as well as Hannah and Beth.
Completing her apprenticeship in September 2018, she has continued to develop her expertise as a barista and, along with Beth, she did receive some training from six times world Latte art champion Dhan Tamang.
Beth and Hannah have recently been training Nelly to supervisor level and she hopes to put it into practice when restrictions ease and the café can reopen. During lockdown, Nelly has been sustained by the coffee machine she has at home and kept busy creating content for the shop’s Instagram account.
Asked where she sees her career going, she says: ‘I would like to have my own place at some point, but I definitely want to stay in the specialist coffee industry. It’s what I love doing and I am so lucky to have found that so early in my career.’
Applaud Coffee became a New Anglia Youth Pledge Marque holder in October 2017. The Pledge is the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s commitment that every young person in Norfolk and Suffolk will get the support they need to get into education, training, an apprenticeship or a job within three months of leaving education or employment.
Nelly’s story shows that not only do apprenticeships offer on-the-job training, but they can lead to a career that you really enjoy
Natasha WallerSkills Manager at New Anglia LEP
Natasha Waller, Skills Manager at New Anglia LEP, says: ‘Nelly’s story shows that not only do apprenticeships offer on-the-job training, but they can lead to a career that you really enjoy. Beth and Hannah have also benefitted as they have been able to develop and retain someone whose skills are now valuable to their business.’
Sam goes back to where it all began
Meanwhile, across town, childcare worker Sam Hope is completing an apprenticeship at YMCA Trinity where she once lived, thanks to a scheme which uses unspent levy payments to get people into work. Sam gave birth to her son at 19 after moving into its Ipswich accommodation and she is now doing a Level 3 Early Years Childcare Apprenticeship after Suffolk County Council transferred apprenticeship levy through a New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership initiative.
The Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme works with large employers who have pledged funding and matches them with a small non-levy employer to support the recruitment of the apprenticeship.
Sam, now 28, works at YMCA Childcare in Providence Lane and is among those whose training is being paid for through the scheme. She says: ‘Doing your coursework while doing the job means you know what to expect, which is really helpful. When you are studying at college you don’t know what the setting will be like, so I find this a lot easier.
‘When I did my Level 2 training at Suffolk New College it wasn’t funded for my age group and I wasn’t able to complete my Level 3 that way. So, this is good for people who don’t know what they want to do when they are younger and want to start something later on.’
Returning to YMCA Trinity to develop a career has been particularly rewarding, both professionally and personally. ‘It’s strange because some of the staff are still here, but it’s nice because I feel I am doing a little bit for them,’ comments Sam. ‘I am going to be giving a PowerPoint presentation to those from our Parent and Child Accommodation, so it’s great to be able to support them.’
So far, the scheme has resulted in 170 levy shares totalling £1,384,906 and more are in the pipeline across Norfolk and Suffolk.
Suffolk County Council has transferred £250,000 of levy payments to fund apprenticeships for early years workers, teaching assistants, roofers, chefs and electricians and other roles.
We support people to realise their potential and we’re really proud of Sam and what she is achieving in her career
Lucy WatlingOrganisational Quality & Development Manager at YMCA Trinity
Lucy Watling, Organisational Quality & Development Manager at YMCA Trinity, says: ‘Being able to access levy transfer funding for apprentices has contributed to YMCA Trinity supporting 21 apprenticeships in the last 12 months. We support people to realise their potential and we’re really proud of Sam and what she is achieving in her career.’
We know these transfers make a huge difference to both the businesses and the apprentices they employ
Chris BallyDeputy Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council
Chris Bally, Deputy Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council, says: ‘Since setting up the Levy Transfer Process in August 2020, the County Council has received requests from more than 20 local businesses and been able to support over 50 individual apprentices, including care home workers, school workers, roofers, electricians and carpenters.
‘We know these transfers make a huge difference to both the businesses and the apprentices they employ, and we appreciate that the work they do supports the people of Suffolk and the wider Suffolk economy.
‘With the support from the LEP we have been able to reach employers who will really benefit from the levy transfer, particularly at a time when we’ve all felt the impact of COVID-19. It’s been great to be able to support these organisations and individuals.’
Visit New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for Norfolk & Suffolk and nationalapprenticeshipweek.co.uk. To find out more about the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Scheme, email Levy Transfer Co-ordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
(Featured image: Nelly Keen. Picture credit – Applaud Coffee)