Monday 9 March 2015

This year’s National Apprenticeship Week – which runs from 9th to 13th March – celebrates apprenticeships and the positive impact that they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Amey currently employs over 250 apprentices and have committed to recruiting a further 1000 apprentices over the next four years. Amey’s apprenticeship programme offers a range of challenging opportunities for young people across over 300 locations in the UK and Streets Ahead is just one of these.
Amey’s Streets Ahead team, working in partnership with Sheffield City Council, are responsible for upgrading the city’s roads, pavements and streetlights. In recognition of the week, we spoke to Streets Ahead apprentice, Kyle Leach, who produces Sheffield’s highway signs, to find out how he is finding the apprenticeship programme so far.

Kyle, 16, joined Amey as an apprentice in September 2014, after hearing about the scheme through his Dad who works on the Streets Ahead project. “I researched a few apprenticeship schemes online, but my Dad had already told me about the programme that Amey runs and it sounded perfect”says Kyle. “I filled in an application form online and then attended an open day at Sheffield’s Town Hall, where we were given an introduction to Amey and took part in mini interviews. From there I was lucky enough to be placed in my chosen position – making the highway signs for Sheffield.”
Since 2012, Streets Ahead have replaced over 7,500 of Sheffield’s highway signs and this number will continue to grow over the project. Kyle adds:

“Amey offers several apprenticeship options, but working in the sign shop really stood out for me. I have an interest in graphic design and I felt like a career in sign making would really complement this interest.

“I did consider staying at school and going to sixth form, especially as this is what most of my friends were doing, but I decided an apprenticeship would suit me much better. It would allow me to get out into the working world, earning money whilst I was still learning and developing a skill.

“I am now six months into my two-year long apprenticeship and I have learnt so much already. Not only have I learnt a new skill in terms of producing signs, but I have also seen an improvement in my communication skills and I have learnt how to get on with people of all ages.

During his time as an apprentice, Kyle will not only gain experience in his chosen trade, but in addition he is undertaking a National Vocational Qualification at Sheffield College and is also working towards gaining the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. “I enjoy all aspects of my role, but I am particularly enjoying working towards my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. I’ve already taken part in a number of activities and have arranged to carry out volunteer work, which all counts towards the achievement,” says Kyle.

Kyle has already decided that Streets Ahead and Amey is where he wants to build his future career and can see a path developing for him. “I would really like to stay within Amey, working on Streets Ahead when my apprenticeship comes to an end next year. I can see myself being able to climb the career ladder here and really progress. I would recommend an apprenticeship with Amey to other young people looking for a fulfilling career,” he says.

Jayne Dunn, Cabinet Member for Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, said: “As a Council we can see the value apprentices have in our economy and we know how important it is that young people are given the opportunities that best suit them. As a city we need young people with the right skills and apprenticeships are a key part of creating a workforce for the future.

“Going into further education is not the right path for all young people and Kyle is a great example of how taking on an apprenticeship and learning new skills whilst working can be of great benefit.”

Rob Allen, Streets Ahead’s Business Director at Amey, said: “Amey’s apprenticeship programme is a fantastic opportunity for ambitious young people and we are really proud of the scheme. Our apprentices work in a range of areas, including office roles, out on the highway network, looking after the city’s trees and producing signage, to name a few. We work closely with our apprentices to help them develop specific skills and knowledge and making sure that they achieve their ambitions.

“Not only do our apprentices develop their chosen skill, but we also support them in achieving professional qualifications and taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards, which is always great fun and a challenge for them.

“It’s always excellent to watch the apprentices on Streets Ahead progress, move through the business and make a career for themselves.”