A is for apprenticeships at Alphabet Lanes

3 September, 2014

Written by: Anna Quigley

- > Better jobs, business and skills

Our September apprentice of the month, Amy Furbinger, is undertaking a level 2 apprenticeship as an Early Years’ Practitioner at Alphabet Lanes nursery.

Amy FurbingerAmy, 20, began working at Alphabet Lanes this time last year and will be the fifth apprentice to come out of the social enterprise, that opened in West Norwood two years ago.

She finds the balance of learning on the job and attending college works well for her and that her studies complement what she experiences daily at the nursery. To anyone considering an apprenticeship, Amy says:

“Go for it. If, like me, you’d rather do stuff than write it down then this style of learning will suit you.”

After completing her apprenticeship, Amy would like to stay on at the nursery and maybe take a level 3 apprenticeship so she can work in a primary school. Ultimately she’d like to run her own business like Toni.

The employer’s view

Toni Eastmond, owner-manager of Alphabet LanesToni Eastmond’s nursery now looks after almost 50 children between the ages of 2 and 5 years – providing a caring home away from home and preparing them for school. She thinks apprenticeships work for her business, her staff and the children.

Four apprentices have completed training at the nursery and Amy is one of three currently undertaking their training. Whilst she enjoys watching the apprentices grow and develop through their training, the business benefits from their energy and enthusiasm. She says:

“I’d definitely recommend taking on apprentices – you can train them and introduce them to the world of work – you can help them discover what kind of employees and colleagues they want to be. If you’re prepared to put in the time and the hard work then it is definitely worth it, for the business as well, it’s excellent.”

And she acknowledges that, particularly for a start-up, it helps financially. The time and support she provides as a mentor to the apprentices can be offset against the apprenticeship wages and some of the financial incentives available.

Currently the studying element of the apprenticeships are overseen by an external training provider but Toni has ambitions for Alphabet Lanes to become its own training provider so she can continue to prepare local young people for careers as early years’ educators.

This approach also seems to work for the apprentices. Of the four apprentices, who have completed their training at Alphabet Lanes, two are still employed at the nursery, one returns as a supply worker and the fourth has a good job in a primary school.

The previous apprentice’s view

Becky Hutton completed her level 3 children’s workforce apprenticeship a few months ago and, age 19, is now deputy manager at Alphabet Lanes. Becky felt that undertaking her apprenticeships with others in the same position at the nursery was a real help. Her confidence and ambitions have grown with her experience and qualification and she now helps the new apprentices with their studies.

Interested in employing an apprentice?

If you’re considering hiring an apprentice speak to our Apprenticeship Coordinator to find out about the support available. Email apprenticeships@lambeth.gov.uk

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