Tuesday 15-03-2016 - 16:12
This is a guest blog written by Frankie Linn, a member of the leadership team for the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) Scotland.
I chose to do an apprenticeship after deciding that more formal Further Education wasn’t for me. After leaving school I went to a summer school at Dundee University, upon the completion of which I would start studying Physics there. In my last week I decided that I wasn’t quite yet ready for uni and that even though Physics was my favourite subject at school, I just wasn’t interested in it at a higher level. I moved back home to Edinburgh and made a snap decision to apply for Music Performance at college. I ended up getting in learning bass guitar and although I enjoyed it at first aspects of the course were dreadfully boring. I left three months before the course ended, although I can now play some really mean bass...
After I left the college, financial strains meant that I would have to work full time if I wanted to keep my brother and me in our home. But I also wanted learn and keep working towards some kind of qualification, so I decided on an apprenticeship. On my first day of searching I came across the opening at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) - a trade union and professional body of nurses. I instantly recognised the RCN and the branding because my mum is nurse and the RCN magazine was always lying around the house. So I fired an application in. Six weeks later I had started my first day there.
I studied a Scottish Vocational Qualification level 3 in Business and Administration which I managed to complete in five months, but it’s the knowledge out with the criteria of this qualification that I think will help me more in the future. Working in the RCN Scotland Communications department during an election year has given me a wealth of experience and peaked my interest in politics and media. So much so that after my contract with the RCN finishes I’m (hopefully) studying Public Relations and Media at university, now that I feel I’m ready for it. The support and the willingness of the team to give me work that is outside of the requirements of the modern apprentice has been great, they’ve given me work that I can really sink my teeth into and be engaged by. When I’ve made mistakes, instead of not trusting me with that level of work, they’ve shown me what I’ve got wrong and taught me how to handle similar challenges in the future.
I am also a member of the leadership team for the National Society of Apprentices (NSoA) Scotland, taking part in their work in at regional level in Scotland and at UK level. I want to help make sure apprentices’ views can be heard at their place of work, at their place of learning and make sure politicians and political parties know apprentices’ views as well. I’ve really lucked out at the RCN with supportive colleagues, a good assessor and work that genuinely interests me. But there are others who go to an apprenticeship and are used as cheap labour (apprentices can be paid as low as £3.30 an hour) or never actually complete their qualification because of poor support from employers and training providers. NSoA wants to change this and other problems facing apprentices.
You can find out more about the National Society of Apprentices here.