For Gill Dobson, one of the best bits of her Apprentice Assessor and Trainer role is getting to see first-hand the difference apprentices make. Describing her role, Gill says, “Apprenticeships are fabulous for both apprentices and their employer. It is great to see the value apprentices bring. Their job is invaluable, and it is brilliant to see them be recognised through the qualifications they go on to achieve. Many of the apprentices I’ve worked with go on to be promoted, which is very rewarding”.
Gill works for Wakefield College, a further education and training college in West Yorkshire with over 8,000 students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. The Emergency Service Contact Handling Apprenticeship delivered by the College typically lasts 12 months and it is an ideal training pathway for those who wish to work as a call handler in the emergency services sector.
We offer a Level 3 Certificate in Emergency Call HandlingLearn more about qualification
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the entire healthcare sector and the need for skilled call handlers to work in difficult situations has never been more important. Gill says, “The sector is really in need of additional passionate and skilled call handlers who can adapt to challenging settings and busy team environments. This apprenticeship is a fantastic way of developing the skills and experience required to make a difference in the lives of local people in an emergency call handling setting”.
Like all apprenticeships, an apprentice in Emergency Service Contact Handling develops knowledge, skills, and behaviours through off-the-job training courses alongside real-life experience. Gill says, “Some of the key skills developed on this apprenticeship include communication skills, mental health awareness, working with those from a wide range of equality and diversity backgrounds, and, importantly, navigating stressful situations confidently and effectively. By the time an apprentice is qualified, their training has equipped them well for this challenging but also very exciting and rewarding role”.
Career Prospects After Apprenticeships
Many apprentices in this sector are promoted after completing their apprenticeship. For example, some aspire to be supervisors within contact centres meaning they progress to positions with greater management responsibilities for other staff and bigger teams. Gill says, “I have seen past apprentices enjoy working in public service so much that they become Police Officers or to fulfil roles in the healthcare profession. The majority become team leaders or move into call handling within dispatch centres for emergency vehicles. There are many career progression opportunities depending on what is right for the individual”.
Advice for Prospective Apprentices
If you are interested in finding out more about apprenticeship opportunities, including those at Wakefield College, Gill has this advice, “Being an apprentice is a great way to earn as you learn. We have apprentices of all ages, suiting those who have just left school, through to those who have had a career already but are looking for something different or for development opportunities. Apprentices are fully supported and 20% of their working week involves off-the-job training, which helps many apprentices boost their confidence before trying out their new skills in a real-life setting”.
Over 300,000 people per year begin an apprenticeship in England. To ensure apprenticeship opportunity information reaches those who will benefit most, Gill regularly attends seminars, recruitment events, and Q&A sessions. The ‘Find An Apprenticeship’ website is also often a good place to start.