Paula has undertaken a number of different job roles in her 18 years of working at Suffolk County Council, all within the remit of improving practice, providing learning opportunities and supporting career development pathways. Her current position as a Workforce Development Adviser means that she is responsible for the development and implementation of apprenticeship programmes in children and adults services in front line roles such as early help practitioners, social workers, occupational therapists and routes into nursing. Paula is a key link between the apprentices, their line managers / supervisors, the university and wider Suffolk County Council managers and holds regular catch up meetings and one-to-one support meetings across these channels as a method of support and feedback.
Paula feels that the introduction of higher-level apprenticeships has provided a great opportunity for Suffolk County Council to develop bespoke work-based learning programmes that support a pipeline of newly qualified professional staff into high need areas of the workforce with the added benefit of apprentices achieving their goals and earning while they learn! Once qualified, the apprentices have the benefit of being ‘practice ready’, knowledgeable about the way we work as an organisation, and with a vast amount of experience of learning the job through everyday practice. The apprentices themselves also bring ongoing benefits to the team they are in, sharing new knowledge and practice from their course with others.
When asked how Paula would describe the employer experience during 2020 in light of the COVID pandemic, she noted that it was challenging due to the pandemic and different ways of working, rewarding and exciting! One apprentice told her that there is nothing like the buzz of learning something at university on a Monday and being able to apply it in their practice on a Tuesday…” it just gets the brain sparking!”