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Council apprenticeship could be doorway to a career

An apprenticeship can be a great way to begin building a career. Boston Borough Council has an apprenticeship scheme and a proven track record of apprentices gaining qualifications and finding permanent positions with the authority.

There are currently apprenticeships available - see http://jobs.boston.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=13281

Carrie Vere (20) came to the council in June, 2016, with GCSEs and A levels as an apprentice in the revenues and benefits department. She has gained Level 2 City and Guilds Business Administration and by May, 2017 had a 12-month temporary position as Right Benefits Initiative officer. Carrie's future became more secure when, in October, 2017, she was employed full time and permanently as Council Tax and Benefits Officer,

Carrie, who is an animal lover, said: "I am proud to be from Boston and wondered what I could offer the town through working for the council. I like the friendly atmosphere, sense of community throughout all sections and the work being challenging but enjoyable."

 

Michael Reeson (21) studied for his GCSEs and A levels at Boston Grammar School and worked as an administration assistant part-time while still at school.

In November, 2015,  he became the council's Environmental Operations Administration Apprentice  and went on to gain his NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration

He moved from Environmental Operations to Credit Control in January, 2017, where he then gained a permanent role as a Credit Control Officer.

He said: "My apprenticeship provided me with a stepping stone into full-time employment in an interesting and exciting job role.   

"The apprenticeship looked like a great opportunity for career progression and I was mainly looking to learn on the job, develop my knowledge and secure permanent employment. I was attracted by the challenges I could potentially face on this job and the possibility of learning all about the council and how it works.

"I have gone from telephoning refuse collectors about missed bins to representing the council at the magistrates' court in respect of council tax and business rates. In the roles I have worked in I have done a variety of work, gaining confidence and working with and learning from some great people."

Outside work Michael plays and watches football, currently playing for Kirton Town FC and, by his own admission, is a "massive" Manchester Utd fan.

 

Gemma Razik (32) had an apprenticeship choice to make - council or forklift truck company. She decided to opt for the council and said: ". I am so glad that I did as I have learned so much from my time here and gained career progression."

Gemma made a big decision to leave Boston High School after four months in the sixth form.  "It wasn't for me so I enrolled at ISIS Training."

She had worked part-time job at Kwik Save from the age of 16 and after leaving there worked part time at Next until 2007. 

"While at ISIS Training I gained a lot of self confidence as we did workshops on writing CVs, giving presentations, dealing with customers and also learned to work as a team through many team-building exercises."

She became an IT Support Assistant Apprentice at the council in July 2003 - setting up and installing equipment, setting up new users, monitoring IT stock and dealing with some helpdesk calls. With on-the job-training from the council's IT staff she gained knowledge of different sections' software and gained her NVQ Level 2 in Administration.

In 2007 she became the council's Allpay Officer within revenues and benefits, inputting all the cheques and cash for all the sections within the council and from members of the public and dealing with customer enquiries regarding their payments, especially Council Tax.

" I began to gain more and more knowledge of the council tax system and in 2009 I became a Revenues and Benefits Advisor dealing with council tax, recovery and business rates.  In 2010 I was asked if I would be a Customer Services Adviser for half of my working week and the Revenues and Benefits Advisor for the other half.  The knowledge of all the different sections in the council that I gained while working in the IT section and also my knowledge of the payment system helped me carry out this role."

In August, 2010, Gemma and her partner moved to Nottingham where she became a Debt Recovery Officer for Dollar Finance.  The knowledge she had gained in both the Allpay Officer Role and Council Tax Recovery helped her to get this job.

In 2012 they moved back to Boston, and she successfully answered a job advert job for a Planning Support Assistant at the council. 

In 2015 she landed her current role as Credit Control Officer.

She said: " Some of my friends from school who left at the end of Year 11 had already got apprenticeships here and had told me how interesting the different departments of the council are.

"I have gained experience from on-the-job training in all the different roles I have been in. Every day is different and brings new challenges."

 

Nicole Hayes (20) has been a competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach. She was educated at University Academy Holbeach, where she gained a Btec Level 3 Extended Diploma Sport and her A Level Maths.

In September, 2016, she joined the council as a  People Services Apprentice, moving in May, 2017 to become an Accounting Apprentice and gaining her Level 2 Business Admin and her AAT Level 3.

She said: "I was first attracted to an apprenticeship at the council after hearing from other employees of the potential opportunities within local government."

 

Emma Staff has just received congratulations for her 20 years of service for Boston Borough Council. She started her career as an apprentice in personnel after leaving Boston College.

She is now the council's graphics expert and marketing and communications officer.

Emma is now used to dealing with calls from top-level media from all around the world.

It's a far cry from Emma's final days at Haven High School (as it was back in 1996) when she left for a year-long business studies course at Boston College before joining the council as a Youth Training apprentice in the personnel section.

Emma displayed an early talent for design and soon found herself a member of the two-strong graphics team, handling most of the council's computerised design and production work for a range of information leaflets, pamphlets and brochures.

Then Emma reinforced the communications team, formalising some of the work she had previously been doing through the graphics unit and taking on more responsibility for proactively promoting the council and the borough and reactively dealing with media inquiries from around the world and across the whole range of council services.

Her design strengths and familiarity with computer programs sees her, on a daily basis, helping keep the council's website, Facebook and Twitter channels up to date. She is also the backbone of Boston Bulletin production.

Emma (37), who has a daughter and a son, was born and bred in Boston. She said: "I never imagined, when I first joined the council, that there would be so much opportunity and so much variety.

"If you'd told me than that I'd be dealing with journalists from the likes of The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, the BBC and ITV, I wouldn't have believed you.

"I love having freedoms to design and I have learned so much. Every day is different, and the time flies by. You have a real feeling of pride in your work when you see something you have written, taken the photograph for, designed and seen through all the production processes being taken away and of use to someone.

"People would be surprised at the breadth of work done at the council - everything from bin collections to high finance. Working at Boston Borough Council has given me some tremendous opportunities and amazing experiences."

 

Gemma Creasey (32) joined as a trainee aged 17 after some initial computer systems training. Her two-year placement came with no guarantee of a job at the end of it - just the chance to gain an NVQ Level 2 qualification. But six months in and she had secured permanent employment with the council, and there's been no looking back.

Gemma began her placement in the council tax department, learning about general office duties, before securing the position as a customer services assistant in the revenues and benefits department. Her aptitude and enthusiasm was quickly spotted and she was trained to deal with council tax and housing benefits enquiries. She worked her way up to Customer Services Team Leader and then in 2011 was again promoted, this time to Revenues and Benefits Team Leader responsible for a staff of 17 dealing with council tax affairs applying to 28,000 properties in the borough.

Gemma now says: "I didn't know anything about working for a council when I first came here - I hate to admit but, as a 17-year-old living at home with my parents, I didn't even really know what council tax was. I applied myself and have had great opportunities to advance what quickly turned into a career. It might appear to be all about paper shuffling and pen pushing, but I have been involved in some really exciting projects. I was a member of the project team which redesigned the revenues and benefits area, including working on the self-build computerised systems we now use. And I never thought, when I first arrived, that one day I would be heavily involved in the aftermath of the 2013 floods, probably one of Boston's most dramatic incidents."