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Council boss backs the career path he himself used

Wednesday, 14th May 2014.

The boss of St Edmundsbury Borough Council is championing apprenticeships for a very personal reason.

Twenty-six-years ago Ian Gallin opened his O-level re-sit results and was left disappointed and uncertain what to do next.

Now, as chief executive of Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Councils, Ian is a passionate believer in apprentices - after all he started his career as one of them.

“I have no idea what I would have done if I hadn’t had the opportunity to become an apprentice – I certainly would not have had the kickstart into my career that I received,” said Ian.

Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury, operating under the banner of West Suffolk, are about to take on ten new apprentices.

The two authorities already have a strong track record for taking on and developing their apprentices – they already have ten at various stages of their studies, while 18 of their current staff started their careers through apprenticeships with West Suffolk. In 2012 West Suffolk won a regional award for its joint apprenticeship scheme.

“Apprenticeships are about putting young people into work to develop key skills – their value to any organisation or business cannot be underestimated. It just makes good business sense,” said Ian.

“I feel very strongly that as councils, we should be providing these opportunities to the young people in our local communities.

“I left school at 17 and did a Youth Training Service (YTS) apprenticeship at Devon County Council while also studying business and finance part-time. I worked in the property department, the postroom and central admin and after six months I became a junior finance clerk.”

After two years, Ian left to study a degree in economic development and planning before being offered a job at Bath City Council.

“The valuable experience I had achieved as an apprentice gave me a significant advantage in gaining that job,” said Ian.

Millie Royal is among the councils’ ten apprentices just at the start of their careers. She is an apprentice with the HR department.

“Since becoming an apprentice with West Suffolk I have gained an invaluable amount of experience and confidence,” she said.

“Earning and learning has been the biggest benefit, not only completing a further qualification but gaining an insight to working in the public sector to support me with my future career choices.”

Tom Peters meanwhile is an apprentice in finance.

“Being an apprentice at West Suffolk gives you an opportunity to build a fantastic foundation of fundamental skills to aid you on your chosen career path.

“Learning on the job provides you with relevant ‘hands on’ experience which is very attractive to current and future employers,” he said.

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, said: “It's great news that both Forest Health District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council are making apprenticeships a key part of their growth strategy and recruiting ten new apprentices this year.

“I am pleased that the local authorities in West Suffolk are leading the way by encouraging a range of opportunities for apprenticeships. Most departments within both councils now have an apprentice working for them.

“We want it to be the new norm for young people to choose to either go to university or begin an apprenticeship.

“Apprenticeships increase business productivity and increase skills levels, so with a talent pool of over a million potential employees, it is the ideal time for companies and councils to take advantage of the opportunities for business growth provided by employing apprentices.”

Haverhill Online News

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