- Posted by: Educators Wales
National Apprenticeship Coordinator, Urdd Gobaith Cymru
How long have you worked in education?
I’ve worked in education for about five years now. I studied Sports Development at University, and after graduating, I took a year out to work as a Teaching Assistant. That was when I realised that I wanted to work with young people and decided to apply for a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Studies. After that, I worked for the Council as an Assessor and then saw the job with the Urdd advertised. It was absolutely perfect for me, so I jumped at the opportunity to apply, and I’ve been working here now for a year and a half.
What inspired you to get a job in work-based learning?
At first, I actually thought I wanted to be a teacher, but when I started in work-based learning I realised that this is much more suited to my personality. I’m a confident, open person and I love chatting about anything and everything. I think one of the best things about work-based learning is the flexibility in the way that we work with young people. Through work-based learning, students have the opportunity to experience the workplace and gain a qualification, which I think is really important. It’s about much more than studying a specific subject – they gain a wide range of skills like teamwork and communication skills. For me, the ability to tailor each scheme around each student is a real benefit, because it means that you can interact with every student in a way that benefits them.
What does a normal day at work look like for you?
There’s a lot of planning involved for the apprentices. It’s my responsibility to plan what they’ll be doing over the year in terms of learning, so I arrange and plan workshops and assessments for them to attend.
At the moment, COVID-19 restrictions means that workshops have moved online which has been a bit of a challenge. Losing that face-to-face contact has meant it’s more difficult to have such open conversations and there’s often problems with someone’s WIFI!
What’s the best bit about your job?
One of my favourite parts of what I do is running the workshops for the apprentices. They provide a great way to share ideas with the young people and to allow us to have open and honest conversations. I also meet with the learners once a week for feedback sessions, which gives them a chance to reflect on their tasks during that week, the work they’ve done and to give me any feedback too. It’s a two-way thing – so it allows them to learn and grow, as well as for me to adapt to what is and isn’t working for them. I really enjoy these sessions, because they allow me to really appreciate and see how the learner is progressing, which is so rewarding. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you’re helping your learners do their best.
What’s the biggest achievement of your career?
From my perspective, it’s gaining new qualifications which have enabled me to develop in the role and keep progressing. That’s a big bonus of this job – it’s not just about the development of your students, you can also keep learning and developing yourself. It’s helped me become more versatile as an educator, which I’m really proud of.
I’m also so proud of my learners. It’s such a rewarding feeling watching them each year when they move on from the course and go to university or into the workplace.
Have you ever been inspired by a young person whilst doing your job?
Yes, one of my students inspires me because she is always asking to do more. She is so eager to learn and try new things - always asking questions and wanting to get stuck in and do more activities. Her passion for learning and widening her knowledge has really inspired me to be more open and broaden my horizons.
I was also inspired by one of my students last year, who applied for an Ambassador role through National Training Federation Wales (NTFW). It was so inspiring to me, as this student started the apprenticeship so shy, and came leaps and bounds by the end of the course. It was such a pleasure as an educator to watch their journey and eventually see them get the chance to excel at public speaking, which they would’ve been terrified to do at the start of the scheme!
How has working in work-based learning shaped you as a person?
It’s definitely made me a more organised person! There’s a lot of planning that goes into the workshops I run. I’ve also learnt a lot and developed skills in a range of subjects, and because of that I feel confident that I have the ability to climb the ladder in various sectors which is really exciting.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about getting a job in work-based learning?
I’d say, keep going – the hard work that you put in pays off at the end. There’s a lot that you can get out of doing this job – you gain qualifications for yourself, and the chance to change the lives of young people.