Young Stoke-on-Trent apprentices on first steps to new careers

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Pic courtesy of Stoke-on-Trent City council. (L to R) are Amy Rawlingson, Katie Ford, Shannon Bowman, Nathan Hughes, Mitchell Howle and Alex Hackwood

Recent apprentice opportunities at Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s housing repairs and maintenance company – Unitas have been taken up by six people.

Shannon Bowman, Amy Rawlingson, Katie Ford, Alex Hackwood, Nathan Hughes and Mitchell Howle – all of whom live in the city – will be learning new skills and work experience during their apprenticeship at the Cromer Road base.

Alex, from Trentham, was originally studying PE at university, but is now undertaking a three-year gas engineering apprenticeship. This involves working with gas operatives carrying out repairs and maintenance jobs within the city council’s housing stock

The 24-year-old said: “I wanted a change, and felt becoming a gas engineer would be more beneficial to me than if I were to train to be a teacher. They look after you here at Unitas. There’s more job security, a decent wage and it’s a good place to work.”

Nathan and Mitchell, both aged 16, are also doing gas engineer apprenticeships after leaving school.

Mitchell, from Milton, added: “I was doing a plumbing apprenticeship with a different company but gas engineering is a better qualification, so I applied to join Unitas. It’s really good, and everyone is easy to get on with. The best bit about the apprenticeship is you’re getting paid while you learn.”

The apprenticeships available at Unitas cover a range of development opportunities from entry level to degree programmes. All apprentices are supported by a mentor, who also carries out work-based reviews to get an insight of what learning is being achieved.

Shannon, aged 23, Amy, aged 18, and 16-year-old Katie are all working towards an NVQ business administration level two qualification. Over the next 12 months they will sit within several office-based service areas throughout the business.

Amy, who lives in Milton, said: “I came straight from college, where I was doing graphic design and photography. It’s very different here, but I wanted to try something new. It’s a great place to work – I’m enjoying learning about the company and finding out about the different job roles. Moving forward, I would like to learn more on site, visiting the houses that need repairs, and also learning more about the gas and electrical side.”

Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “As part of Unitas’s growing commitment to providing career opportunities, we’re delighted to welcome our latest apprentices. On-the-job training programmes can help companies prepare for the future by providing relevant skills for their workforce. Our apprenticeship programme is an important way for us to enable talented young people to have the chance to launch or develop their career while working in an environment that helps improve the quality of life for people and the communities in which they live. We wish all six apprentices the very best of luck as they begin their career journeys at Unitas.”

Any future apprenticeship opportunities that become available will be advertised on the city council’s job vacancy page: https://jobsonline.stoke.gov. uk/internetrecruitment/.