Apprenticeships lead to full time employment during pandemic…

Despite the global pandemic Walsall FC Community Trust have created 6 new jobs from their Apprenticeship Scheme.

Walsall have run a very successful Apprenticeship programme, in its varying guises, since 1989.  Currently 13 of the Trust’s 15 full time staff have come through the apprenticeship programme. This includes the current Community Director Adam Davy and the senior management team.

The latest six additions to Walsall’s apprenticeship production line joined the trust at the start of 2020. 5 of these Apprentice placements focused on the sports coaching aspects of the scheme and the final placement focused on media and marketing.

By the end of March 2020 the government placed the country in lockdown, effectively suspending all delivery of programmes for the scheme.  Undeterred, the management staff and tutors continued to support the Apprentices to complete their studies and all reach successful competition of their courses by August 2020.

Adam Davy, Community Director, said: “Our Apprentices were faced with 6 months of distance learning to complete their courses.  Unfortunately, they missed out on some of the practical experience they should have gained but we were so pleased with them for completing their studies during a difficult time and passing their courses with flying colours.  By September we were starting to return to session delivery and work on our Covid recovery programmes.  One of our proudest achievements of 2020, the most difficult of years, was to be able to employ all of them on full time contracts in September.”

Employing all of the Apprentices as Assistant Community Officers meant that they were fully capable of leading programmes and, along with the other existing full time staff, were able to deliver Covid safe sessions as the scheme was inundated with participants who couldn’t wait to return to our Sport, Education, Health and Engagement sessions.

Sadly, though, the scheme had to halt new Apprenticeship places as the country slowly began to get back to its feet.  This proved, in hindsight, a wise decision as the country entered 2 more Lockdowns during November 2020 and in January 2021.

During the 2 extra lockdowns 2 of the Apprentices moved to employment elsewhere as they adapted to life under Covid restrictions.  The 4 remaining staff each have a unique Apprenticeship story to share:

  • Daniel Jones joined the scheme straight after college, in September 2018, on a 2 year Apprenticeship.  Dan passed his 1st Year with distinction and successfully completed year 2.  He is a valuable asset to the scheme, operating as an Assistant Community Officer and delivering across a variety of projects.
  • Billy Cartwright is a previous participant on the schemes activities during his youth.  After starting a sports degree, Billy soon realised that the classroom based learning wasn’t right for him and looked for a more vocational training programme.  Billy transferred across to the Apprenticeship programme in September 2019 and became a full time employee on completion of his one year course.
  • Reuben Uppal also participated on community scheme activities at Walsall FC when he was younger. Following compulsory education, Reuben went on to complete a sports degree and had a passion for coaching.  He saw the Apprenticeship as an opportunity to gain more practical experience and a foot on the coaching ladder within a professional football club.  Reuben became a full time employee on completion of his one year course.
  • Jake Welch had been volunteering with the scheme since 2017 whilst employed in his family’s business.  Seeking a career change Jake opted to become an Apprentice for a year placement in September 2019.  Although already in his late 20’s, and older than most Apprentices, Jake saw the opportunity for a career change in to a professional football environment.  His hard work paid off when he was employed as Assistant Community Officer for Sport in September 2020.

Looking forward to a return to delivery in Spring 2021…

The Community Trust is currently working on a restart plan for 2021.  As well as looking at how they will safely return to delivery, once restrictions begin to be lifted, it will also be utilising the government Kickstart scheme.  5 new Kickstart roles are in the pipeline with a projected start date of April 2021.  Paul Larvin, Community Manager for Education will lead on the Kickstart programme and hopes that the Kickstarters can progress to become Apprentices in Autumn 2021;

Paul, said: “The Kickstart programme offers unemployed young people between 16 and 24 the opportunity to work within organisations and gain valuable work experience.  We see this as an opportunity to restart our Apprenticeship scheme by offering Kickstart places between Spring and Autumn 2021 with the intention of our Apprentice programme beginning in September or October.  Our aim is to recruit some passionate and enthusiastic Kickstarters and give them the opportunity to access the Modern Apprenticeship places that we plan to advertise later in the year.  It’s a win, win situation and will help to rejuvenate the Apprenticeship programme so that we can continue to offer this excellent provision and asset to the scheme.  As difficult as the last 12 months have been we have continued to look for the positives so that we can continue to support the community that we serve.”