Bristol City Council reaches across the community to recruit apprentices

"If you’d asked me, six months ago, whether I would have been sitting in a meeting with directors and managers, I’d never have believed you.”

Bristol City Council has been working to recruit apprenticeships from all backgrounds

So begins 18-year-old Aliza Ibraim, who is working as an apprentice at Bristol City Council. Her enthusiasm and ability to learn and absorb information in the finance department has already been noted by colleagues.

Her manager Jonathan Jacobs beams:

She’s brought a spark to the office.”

When she arrived she was shy. She didn’t want to answer the phone, talk to anybody, but in the last six months she’s come out of her shell, and with training and guidance she is now a regular participator in meetings. I can see her going a long way.”

Aliza sighs:

I’d been in education for so long and it was just exams, exams, exams.”

It’s mostly been what you learn off a book and that doesn’t really work for me. I didn’t want to go to university, so I took a gap year after my A-levels and did some work in the retail sector. “This is much better, though, because it’s a real opportunity for me. It’s really good for my self-confidence. I’m learning and getting paid at the same time!”

There are more than 100 apprentices at Bristol City Council working as business administrators, electricians, plumbers, accountants, supporting teaching and learning in schools and in human resources.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said:

As a council we want to model what we say.”

We’ve been talking about apprenticeships and different pathways into work. Using apprenticeships is a more effective way of recruiting from a more diverse group of race and class backgrounds. We want the city to do it, so we do it ourselves.”

Tiffany Jenkins, the council’s apprentices team leader, explains:

We’re actively promoting apprenticeships, not just to the council, but to the city as a whole.”

We teach them a certain way so they’re multi-skilled and can address our shortage of skills. At the same time they make the council a more diverse place to work and, hopefully, we can help get them into more senior positions.”

South West TUC Regional Secretary Nigel Costley is pleased to see the work at Bristol City Council and the number of high-quality apprenticeships being delivered.

Nigel said:

As we can see, with the support of trade unions, the Council has reaped huge benefits with their apprenticeship scheme.  Any employer that emulates what the Council is doing will experience the same gains.”

A great apprenticeship will provide real-life work experience and quality training, but just as importantly, the apprentice is treated as a key member of the team with decent rights, proper pay and opportunities to progress.”

Recently, the South West TUC have launched a campaign to help apprentices understand their rights as they start their journey into working life.

Nigel added:

Knowing how much apprentices have to learn when they start, we’ve created a simple to use online calculator that helps any apprentice understand the complicated rules around the minimum wage, including working out their rate of pay.”

For click the South West TUC campaign and calculator for more information.

This story was written by Tim Lezard and first appeared in the South West TUC’s West Country Workers.