Richard’s normal day-to-day role, project managing the delivery of 21st Century Schools projects, was put on hold to be part of the COVID-response team: ensuring all key worker’s children were provided with childcare places enabling parents and carers to continue to work in front line services.
The Welsh Government recently announced a £40m jobs and skills package which will be crucial in incentivising employers to recruit and retain up to 5,000 apprentices, like Richard.
The 23-year-old is currently studying a Level 4 Diploma in Project Management with ALS and is incredibly proud to have played a key part during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. He is now advocating work-based learning as a vital opportunity to gain job specific-skills that are crucial to success in the world of work.
He said: “It was all hands-on deck across every department in the council, it was our job to ensure all the vulnerable families and key worker’s children had a childcare place in one of the school hubs. This was essential in ensuring key workers could go to work and help keep the world turning as we went into lockdown.”
“It was hard work, long hours, but extremely rewarding. I came into contact with some truly amazing people who were so thankful for the help that enabled them to do their, sometimes life-changing, jobs.”
“My own job changed overnight but as a team, we all knew we had to pull together. My team worked as the conduit between the schools and childcare services and I also helped out with calling vulnerable people within our community who received meals on wheels, which was extremely rewarding, I may have been the only person they had spoken to that day. One lady who was suffering with severe dementia remembered me each week which was really heart-warming.”
Richard is now part of the local authority’s recovery taskforce, working with the senior leadership team on preparing for schools to fully reopen in September.
He continued: “I was keen to add to my qualifications after finishing my degree. An apprenticeship was the perfect option for me as I could start my career as well as continuing to develop my skills.”
His line manager Lisa Howell, Business and School Organisation Manager, said: “Richard has really stepped up. We have really high standards for our graduate officer roles, and we knew when we met him that he could rise to any challenge. During this period, it has been tough, but he has excelled. Senior team members have commented on his professionalism and how much he has progressed in such a short space of time.”
“They say it takes a crisis for people to come together. Richard is now a key member of our recovery taskforce and will take his newfound skills forward as we start to figure out a new normal and return to project management tasks.”
Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales said: “It’s so encouraging to see apprentices like Richard doing a great job in challenging times. Coronavirus has had a real impact on our economy, and we need to ensure the next generation are skilled, adaptable and work-ready in order to support our economic recovery.
“That is why we recently announced a significant £40m support package which will be absolutely essential in helping employers to take on and train new workers, including apprentices and young people.
“Apprenticeships continue to play a vital role in delivering the skills employers need. Having this pool of talent will help equip individuals and businesses across Wales with the knowledge and skills needed which will help Wales return to the levels of growth we were seeing before the pandemic.”
Caryl Griffiths, Employment, Education & Training Co-ordinator for Apprenticeships and Graduates at Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, said “Our Apprenticeship Scheme has been running since September 2012. During that time, we have employed over 200 Apprentices across the Council in many different service areas. Our apprentices work alongside experienced Council Officers gaining valuable, job-specific knowledge. As well as supporting our apprentices to gain nationally recognised qualifications, we provide the skills needed for them to pursue their chosen career.”
“In November 2018 Rhondda Cynon Taf Council won the Employer of the Year award at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru for our outstanding Apprenticeship programme – an accolade we’re very proud of. Since then our program has continued to expand incorporating more service areas and offering apprenticeships in an even wider variety of job types”.