Single mother of twin toddlers Carly started out as a part time Level 2 Customer Service Apprenticeship
in Camden’s Swiss Cottage Library. Having been on benefits, Carly decided a part time apprenticeship
would provide a manageable route back
into employment. Juggling work and lone parenting was not easy, but Carly managed to adapt to a new
routine of work and study, excelling in her role, learning new skills and successfully completing her
With newfound confidence and a wider skill set, Carly was offered a permanent job at Gospel Oak
Children’s Centre as Administration Finance Officer. The centre had been running thus far with no
administration support, so Carly faced eight months’ worth
of data and paperwork to organise. However, Carly says her experience as an apprentice left her unfazed.
She quickly introduced new systems and spotted issues that had previously gone unnoticed. Carly’s
manager is delighted with her contribution,
saying ‘Carly is well-known in the community and acts as an excellent advocate for the centre. She has
been extremely supportive to the team, service users and partner agencies.’
Carly hopes her achievements will inspire other parents to consider part time/flexible apprenticeships.
She feels strongly that the difficult journey was worth the effort, having achieved so much, so quickly.
Emma was in a difficult home situation and at 14 was under the care of Social Services Looked After
Children’s Team. She faced lots of challenges and also found out she was pregnant. After having a baby,
she felt that she had to work hard
to prove she was a good mum.
She decided to move on to an apprenticeship because she knew it would enable her to gain a qualification
at the same time as progressing her career. She is in her first year at Camden Council working part time
as a Level 2 Apprentice Customer Service
Officer. I work from 9am to 3pm, which allows me to meet both work and family requirements.
She says that in so many ways, she has been able to put different skills into practice. She needs to
ensure she offers a good duty of care and behaves in a professional manner. She has had training in a
range of areas including penalty notices, using
the switchboard, universal credit and rents.
She has had three different managers and says they have all been phenomenal and provided her with
amazing support. After she completes her Level 2, she’d like to progress to a Level 3 Apprenticeship,
and one day become a Councillor.
To those considering an apprenticeship, she says ‘Go for it - get your foot in the door. Often if there
is a will, there is a way.’
K10 – an employer’s perspective on part time/flexible apprenticeships
Peter is the Apprenticeship Programme Manager for K10, a construction company and supplier to Camden
Council. He recruited four business administration apprentices to his company on a part time basis,
specifically targeting unemployed parents.
‘Being a single parent or carer comes with a wide range of pressures and responsibilities. It’s
essential to ensure that talented individuals can kick-start their career whilst looking after their
children’ he said.
K10 placed the apprentices with host employers, investing in HR resources and aftercare systems to deal
with pastoral issues that arose. One of Peter’s apprentices explained, ‘Peter fitted my hours around my
son’s school times so I could pick him up.
Whenever I had a problem I went to Peter and he just sorted out it. He’s so helpful! This really
assisted me back into work.’
Peter specifically chose placements involving work on major projects, enabling apprentices to glean the
widest range of skills.
Peter’s diligence as a mentor in providing wraparound support enabled the apprentices to focus on their
work and complete their qualifications, after which all four were offered permanent jobs having proven
their value as loyal employees. This fantastic
outcome serves as an example of best practice that has encouraged other employers to follow suit.
Part-time, flexible apprenticeships are now part of our mainstream apprenticeship offer. ‘It has been a
pleasure to see the apprentices develop
their skills and knowledge. Credit to them for the effort that they have put in to reach this point’ he
Manager’s perspective: Customer Services Manager, Camden Council
Within the Contact Camden team at Camden Council, Richard decided to recruit apprentices having developed
the philosophy ‘build you own’. He works in Contact Camden, which is the ‘face’ of Camden Council for
residents. Richard explains, 'It’s
good to get local people into roles and build bridges between service users and those who work for the
service. Having apprentices has bought a lot to the team.
Most recently he wanted to consider applicants wanting full or part time hours. 'We currently have 6
apprentices in the team and they all bring something different - fresh ideas, enthusiasm, energy and
much more. We provide a supported environment where
they can grow and learn from their mistakes. They experience a wide ranging of tasks as they will get
the opportunity to deal with every type of query from the diverse population. They gain a lot of
knowledge and develop excellent customer
service, people management and project management skills. Virtually every apprentice we have had working
for us has progressed to another job within the council or elsewhere.
Richard has a flexible approach. 'When considering working hours, I think you need to be willing to
rewrite the rule book a little and consider what your apprentices could bring to the service regardless
of the hours they work. I believe if they have
the right attitude and skills than it can work.
Manager's perspective - Economic Development Officer, Camden Council
Chris was open to flexible working when he decided to recruit a Level 3 Business Administration
apprentice to support the work of Camden’s Economic Development team, aware of the potential to attract
a more diverse field of candidates.
Our apprentice had strong previous work experience and confident communication. However, the
apprenticeship was her first job for a couple of years, having taken some time out to care for her two
young children. With her continuing caring responsibilities
she was only able to work term time and reduced hours so I designed her involvement in certain projects
around her leave.
Our apprentice was a very conscientious and valuable member of the service. She supported a number of
large programmes of work including the Camden Business Awards, the council’s work experience programme
and the development of the team’s web and social
Balancing her childcare commitments with the requirements of the apprenticeship sometimes meant having
to change her work pattern and to work additional hours to make up time. We had weekly catch-ups to
assess her capacity and progress on particular tasks,
and made sure she informed other managers in good time of the volume of work she was likely to be able
to complete for them. On completion of her apprenticeship, has now secured a full-time role at the