Streets Ahead internships giving Sheffield students a head start

Seventy young people from Sheffield employed as apprentices have acquired new skills and qualifications working on the Sheffield City Council’s Streets Ahead contract.

Ellie Buckley, with Helen Johnson, Community & Engagement Officer and Debra Haythorne, OCR Operations Manager, Streets Ahead.
Ellie Buckley, with Helen Johnson, Community & Engagement Officer (left) and Debra Haythorne, OCR Operations Manager (right), Streets Ahead.

Amey, who are delivering the Council’s highways maintenance contract in Sheffield, employ the apprentices for 2 years, during which time they undertake job roles and attend college for one day a week to achieve their qualifications. They can undertake the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and most apprentices secure a permanent job with Amey on completion of the programme.

Whilst the apprenticeship programme continues to be a huge success in Sheffield, there is another route into work called a Supported Internship.

Supported internships are for young people who have a learning difficulty or a physical disability and it helps them to move from education into employment.

Amey and Sheffield City Council are particularly proud of this work with Amey winning the RIDI (Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative) Award in 2018.

Helen Johnson, Community & Engagement Officer, outlines the process for the prospective interns, saying:

“The interns are Sheffield College students who apply to undertake their Internship with Amey. They undertake proper job roles at Olive Grove Depot in the morning and have employability training such as maths and English at Sheffield College in the afternoon.

“We’re delighted that ten interns have successfully graduated since 2017, gaining valuable work experience and skills to equip them for their working future. This year we are particularly proud that three former interns have successfully applied for our Apprenticeship Programme.”

But the success of the supported internship is best expressed by two who have started their apprenticeships recently.  Meet Danny and Ellie.

Danny is working as an apprentice in the grounds maintenance team but he started as a supported intern about which he says:

“It changes your frame of mind a bit and it helps you to go about things in a proper workplace.  I wasn’t a very confident person; I was pretty quiet pretty shy but it’s opened me up a lot ‘cos if you’d have asked me to do this back then, no chance, I wouldn’t have done it!”

Ellie started her supported internship in January 2017 when she worked 5 days a week, each morning at Amey with training in the afternoon; “I moved around every month, working in different areas of Amey.  I did filing, IT and office work and I really enjoyed it.”

“Everyone knows me at Amey,” she says with a huge smile, “I didn’t know what I would do when I first started.  It’s given me more confidence; I’ve got more about me and I’ve had different experiences, similar in some areas, but different work too.”

One of the most exciting parts of her internship was working with the inspectors in the Claims Office, “I was able to go out with the Inspectors. They measure potholes and take photos and sometimes they would meet the claimant and talk to them about what happened.”

Ellie’s apprenticeship in the Operational Control Room (OCR) starts in October.  “It’s hands on, doing computer work and paper work similar to now but different. I do my best every day and speak to people and then go home – happy days!”

Ellie’s Mum Sharon, says of her daughter’s progress:

“Amey opening the door and letting these interns come in and show what they can do has been amazing – because half of the things Ellie’s doing I can’t believe that she’s doing it.  We’re really proud of Ellie and how she’s progressed and that she now has an apprenticeship with Amey.”

There are 16 Apprentices starting their journey during September and October this year.  Their placements range from working with the street lighting team, to customer services, stores and highways maintenance.

SOURCEStreets Ahead
Streets Ahead
The Streets Ahead works enable the upgrade and ensure the on-going maintenance of the city’s roads, pavements, highway structures, including bridges and retaining walls, street lighting;, traffic signals, road signs, and markings, fences, barriers and other street furniture; and highway trees. It also includes services such as street cleaning, winter gritting and landscape highway maintenance.