The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone but twelve months into this once-in-a-generation crisis, young people are some of those bearing the brunt with record job losses. In a recent study by London School of Economics and Political Science, more than one in ten 16 – 25 year olds have lost their job since the start of the pandemic and are twice as likely to have lost their jobs compared to older employees.
But in the midst of the current economic turmoil there is hope on the horizon with the new Kickstart Scheme work placement programme, new funding available to employers for hiring apprentices and a boost in funding for the National Careers Service.
As National Apprenticeship Week is underway (8th – 14th February), we’re putting the spotlight on our very own apprentice Alfie Tomkinson. The 21 year old from Leek, Staffordshire started his work at Buxton Visitor Centre in October 2019 whilst studying at Buxton and Leek College. Alfie is now about to embark on the second stage of his apprenticeship studying Business Administration Level 3 and working with the trust for a further fifteen months. He’s already featured on the Buxton and Leek College website today, answering questions from prospective apprentices. But, we couldn’t let him get off without a good grilling from us too!
So, how has he found things so far? We ‘Ask an Apprentice’ to find out…
What does your role involve?
“Working with the team in the Visitor Centre, answering tourist information enquiries (some more obscure than others!) as well as helping with social media and the website.
I also work in the brand new Visitor Experience inside the Crescent, leading tour groups which I’m so proud to have been part of. I’m very hands on and up for anything they need help with.”
How did your apprenticeship come about?
“I studied Public Services Level 3 in Buxton at Buxton and Leek College so knew I wanted to work in a public-facing role. The course gave me a brilliant insight into what to expect in the workplace. Anyone who knows me will know – I love talking to people (a lot). Helping people was something that really attracted me to working in the visitor centre.”
“The college contacted Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust to ask if an apprenticeship was a possibility and the rest as they say is history. The timing was perfect because I started working at the visitor centre not long after it first opened, so I really felt like a part of something new and exciting for the town.”
What do you enjoy most about your job?
“I love a challenge for a start! I like working on things that are new, that I’ve never tried before – like solving a puzzle. No two days are the same working in the visitor centre, I talk to different people all the time; talking to strangers once seemed quite scary – but not now. My favourite thing is definitely dealing with the public and helping them plan their visits – they’ll often tell me a lot about themselves and what they like doing – you really get a window into people’s lives.”
“My course at Buxton and Leek College had a big impact on my life; I completed an expedition in Monmouth for the Duke of Edinburgh Award which was definitely a pivotal moment. I was quite a shy person before going to college. My course helped me build my confidence to talk to people, especially strangers. It really helped me prepare before starting a job.”
And how’s lockdown been for you?
“I’ve had no choice in the situation so just got on with it. A lot of my current work is digital and the lockdown has given me chance to develop my technology skills and knowledge – such as working on the website and helping to improve functionality; this is bound to help my future career prospects – I mean digital is going to be an even bigger part of how businesses are run after the pandemic.”
Any stand out or favourite moments so far?
“A Russian visitor who couldn’t speak any English came into the visitor centre so I used Google Translator to talk to her which lasted about an hour. It was fascinating as she told me about her life and where she was from and I’ve never met anyone from Russia before. I helped her plan different days out while she was staying in Buxton.”
So what’s in store for the future?
“Well, there’s no plan as such. I’d like to go with the flow and see where things take me. Ideally a role that involves working with the public though – that’s definitely where I see myself. I want some adventures too – who knows! The apprenticeship has definitely made me feel much more confident about what I can achieve and I’ll always be so grateful to the college and the team I work with for giving me the chance to do that.”
Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust plans to offer two further work placements via the Kickstart Scheme later this year – we’ll announce more about this soon.
To find out more about apprenticeships, visit National Apprenticeship Week.