“When I first went into the course, I initially just wanted to be a teaching assistant, because you get to know the individual children,” Katy told the Big Issue. “But ever since I’ve got to know the staff at Dalton St Marys, it’s made me think actually I want to be like them and go to university in September.”
Unlike her friends on more traditional academic routes, Katy is getting paid while learning. She works full time at her school and studies for one day every other week.
Much of this is thanks to Gen2, a training organisation and offshoot of apprenticeship provider City & Guilds, who Katy has been with since December 2020. Gen2 helps young people into the world of work through “responsive training and educational programmes”, with 1500 apprentices across its centres in Cumbria.
NOW RECRUITING! Applications are now open for apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships starting in September 2021 with many major Cumbrian employers.
Katy described her placement, which has seen her gain experience with children aged three to 11, as “amazing”. She said her teachers at Gen2, coupled with the course’s flexibility, had also helped her secure maths and ICT qualifications.
Get free training, careers advice and access to hundreds of thousands of jobs with The Big Issue’s RORA Jobs & Training
“They are quite flexible with me, so when I’ve got a busy week at school I can say ‘I’m really sorry, I can’t come in this week’ and do that work at home,” she added. “You have got to be independent as an apprentice.”
For National Apprenticeship Week, the Big Issue’s Ride out Recession Alliance is highlighting the power of apprenticeships to launch those in the post-pandemic job market into new careers.
“For anyone who is new to apprenticeships, they are a way that people can learn a new skill while also earning a salary,” writes City & Guilds managing director David Phillips in this week’s magazine.
“Apprentices learn on the job alongside experienced colleagues, using structured learning frameworks that have been developed with businesses to ensure that apprentices have the skills that are truly in demand in the marketplace.”
During the lockdown, Katy has been going into school and helping vulnerable children and the kids of key workers, while also providing online learning for those being taught from home.
She said her favourite part of the course had been working with supportive staff who had made sure she was looked after: “Everyone has just been so supportive and Gen2 have been very helpful as well. There’s been so much support, its been brilliant.”
Katy said she would recommend the course to anybody who wanted to work with children.
“I think if you’ve got a passion with working with children in all capacities, definitely go down that path,” she added.
“I’m not very academic, I didn’t do very well in my GCSE’s, but I’ve still managed to do really well today and get into university which I’m really proud of.”
When most people think about the Big Issue, they think of vendors selling the Big Issue magazines on the streets – and we are immensely proud of this. In 2022 alone, we worked with 10% more vendors and these vendors earned £3.76 million in collective income. There is much more to the work we do at the Big Issue Group, our mission is to create innovative solutions through enterprise to unlock opportunity for the 14million people in the UK living in poverty.