Our Learner of the Month for September is April Quinn, an Apprentice IT Projects Officer, at Calderdale Council and has been completing a Level 3 Software Development Technician apprenticeship with Estio since November 2017.
April was nominated by her Skills Coach, Aimee Bell, who noted April’s high standard of work as a reason for nominating: “[April] has been a really great apprentice to work with, has provided me with a really high standard of work, has just passed all her exams and is due to finish her portfolio earlier than planned.”
April started with Calderdale Council in October 2017 within the IT Projects team. Already having a good knowledge of IT, April has picked up the experience to enable her to contribute to the team with help from Estio Training and her internal mentors. The IT Projects team works on the development of internal systems for Council services, ranging from social care recording to time management systems.
In 2024 Calderdale will celebrate its 50th birthday. One part of the Vision2024 for Calderdale is to be a place where talent can thrive and everyone can reach their potential.
With unprecedented levels of regeneration and investment in the borough, growing future talent is vital. Supporting people into high-quality apprenticeships is a priority for Calderdale Council – it knows how important it is to help people into jobs and assist businesses to develop.
The Council currently has over 25 apprentices of all ages in a range of services. Anyone can apply and it has a strong commitment to providing opportunities for children looked after and care leavers.
The Council has run a successful apprenticeship programme since 2011. As apprentices learn theory whilst applying it in the workplace, they develop a real understanding of the organisation and are able to make improvements to services quickly. There is an added loyalty factor too, with many apprentices staying at Calderdale Council after their apprenticeship has finished, and a real keenness to progress within the organisation. Apprenticeships are also good for staff morale, as other employees can see their organisation investing in future talent and enjoy the ‘mentoring’ role of sharing their knowledge and experience.
Mary Lane, Senior ICT Project Officer, commented: “April has been with us now for approximately a year and has become a valued member of the team. From her arrival she has always shown an impressive willingness to learn and, as time has passed, she has become increasingly independent. She thoroughly deserves the award of Learner of the Month!”
April has almost completed all of her training and will soon be ready to begin her End Point Assessment in November. We had a catch up with April to reflect on her time as an apprentice at Estio and working with Calderdale Council: “Prior to working at Calderdale Council, I’d never done programming before. At 6th form I took ICT as an A-Level and achieved a Distinction*, but we had never covered programming.
“My apprenticeship has been great, it’s given me the skills I need to do my job and be able to communicate with my team members.
“I was always certain that I didn’t want to go to university because that style of education doesn’t suit me, but I was concerned about my job prospects without a degree. When I found out that the council were looking to hire an apprentice, I was really pleased to have the opportunity to gain some work experience whilst continuing my education there.
“I really enjoy learning at Estio because the pace suits me. I enjoy the fact that my work is based on evidence from my portfolio of work that I’ve built up throughout my apprenticeship, rather than all based on exams.
“My favourite module has been the user interface design module, because it’s helped me to understand all about making my software accessible by choosing the right colours and fonts.
“I found the Programming module quite challenging because we were learning C#, as that’s the standard language in the industry, however in work I’ve been learning SQL. It was difficult as I had a lot to learn, but I’m really glad that I’ve learnt it because it’s a really flexible skill.
“I’ve felt really supported in my training, any time I’ve ever had a query I usually contact my Skills Coach Aimee and it’s sorted almost straight away.
“Currently in my job role, I have assigned days where I resolve tickets or incidents that are reported to the team. Other than that, I have been working on two new apps for the council that will be used by NHS and Police staff. I work in a team called CASS, which stands for Children’s Assessment Safeguarding System, and this involves storing information about the level of needs of children, for example whether they need referring to hospital or whether they are in care or not.
“I’ve created the app from scratch, getting hands on experience with the design, development and testing of the app. The functionality already existed, so I’ve duplicated this and created a version that is read only, and a feature that will enable them to write notes that can only be accessed by necessary people.
“I chose an apprenticeship to have the opportunity to learn and earn at the same time. I wanted to start my career and pick up skills on the way. It’s been a much more stress-free way for me to continue my education!”
We’ve loved hearing all about April’s success in her career, and wish her good luck with the remainder of her apprenticeship!
If you would like to nominate your apprentice for Learner of the Month then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details:
Contact tel no:
Reason for nomination: