Nyema Begum’s journey to Higher Education using knowledge and experience gained from a Sysco Apprenticeship
Nyema Begum finished her A-Levels and began a 3-month volunteering role with Regenda Housing Association in Oldham where she gained experience of working to tight deadlines with limited resources and performed home visits to residents’ houses. Nyema found this initial experience of working within the housing sector enjoyable and began to apply for roles within the Housing Sector. At this point Nyema came across a Sysco vacancy with Contour Homes, part of the Symphony Housing Group, based in Manchester. Sysco supported Nyema during the recruitment process and thanks to her experience she was successful in her application as an Apprentice Admin Assistant. During Nyema’s interview, her line manager was impressed by Nyema’s interest in Housing and suggested that she should be hired as a Housing Apprentice in order to give her the best chance of progressing her career within the sector.
During the initial meeting between Nyema and her line manager with Independent Advice and Guidance being provided by Sysco’s Account Manager, it was agreed that Nyema would indeed benefit from a housing qualification and a date was set for Initial Assessment. After achieving English Level 2 and Maths Level 1, Nyema was inducted onto the course and targets were set for her to achieve her ICT functional skills at Level 1, her NVQ in Housing and the CIH technical certificate. During her qualification, it was identified by Nyema’s Training Advisor that, aside from her hard skills targets, there were areas such as communication, confidence, teamwork and time management, known as soft skills targets, that could be improved.
Nyema’s Training Advisor also discussed with her that, despite having Accredited Prior Learning, she could complete further learning in English and Maths alongside her NVQ to reinforce her existing knowledge. Nyema’s Training Advisor organised a further BKSB assessment and advised on areas in which Nyema could improve and recommended online programmes for further development that could be completed outside of the qualification. During our regular meetings, Sysco also ensured that Nyema was prepared for her ICT functional skills exam in addition to reviewing her progress against the framework and technical certificate. Nyema undertook units that included elements that would challenge her and help to improve the soft skills previously identified as requiring improvement. Nyema completed units that required stand up presentations and was supported by our Training Advisor to ensure the research undertaken gave Nyema the confidence to impress with her communication and delivery skills. Nyema’s improvement in these areas mirror the a 23% improvement in communication skills and a 25% improvement in confidence other Apprentices have shown by undertaking the programme. Throughout the qualification, units were selected that not only worked towards the completion of the framework, but also that challenged Nyema and contributed to the improvement of the soft skills identified by the Training Advisor at the initial meetings.
Nyema’s time management improved throughout the qualification and she found it easier to devote the necessary time towards the work, keeping her commitment high until completion. This improvement is in line with the 24% increase for time management Sysco has observed for learners taking our qualification. After completing all her assignments, Nyema had provided a good variety of evidence across the whole qualification and had been observed performing her role to a very high standard. Nyema progressed into further employment with Contour homes on a six-month contract before ultimately deciding to apply to university in order to improve her knowledge in the Social Housing Sector with the aim of returning to employment upon completion of her studies. Nyema received a glowing reference from her Training Advisor and line manager and was successful in her application to study Health and Community Studies at University in Manchester. This progression is a great achievement, not only for Nyema but also for Sysco and Nyema’s line manager who have been impressed by her improvement during the course as well as her commitment and work ethic over the duration.
Nyema explains all this in the following statement: “Before I started my apprenticeship, I had just completed my A levels and was looking for a full-time job. It was quite difficult for me to look for one because I didn’t meet the experience requirements from job descriptions and I wasn’t too sure what kind of job role I wanted to get into. I then came across a 12-week admin volunteering role in a housing association which I did and really enjoyed. I was especially interested in the types of services available to a customer, especially in the areas of community development which included working on projects to encourage community involvement. After completing this programme, I really wanted to get into housing and after doing research I found that doing an apprenticeship was more beneficial for me as there was lots of potential to progress in a career quickly.
Due to this interest, I was looking for a job in a housing organisation and came across a job opportunity as an apprentice admin assistant at Symphony Housing Group for which I was successful. During my interview my line manager noticed I had an interest in housing and changed my job role to a Housing Apprentice. During my initial meeting with my Training Assessor and line manager agreed that I could progress further in a housing career by studying for a housing qualification instead of an NVQ level 2 in Business Studies. I really loved this role because I was undertaking an CIH certificate & NVQ in housing with Sysco while working full time in an association. At my workplace, I was working alongside the Neighbourhood Team along with the Community Investment Team where I have been working on initiatives and projects to encourage community involvement in the areas we work in. Examples included addressing the issues of fly tipping an area, planting days, youth engagement and employment projects. Doing an apprenticeship with Sysco offered me a varied learning experiences. Their hands-on training gave me a real chance to put my skills into practice and helped me gain more confidence in a working environment. I improved my skills in many others areas including customer service, teamwork and communication, working under my own initiative when required and working with a range of people from different age groups, different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I was well supported by my Training Advisor from Sysco and had a good relationship with her which really helped when studying. Having someone to go to if I had any issues gave me encouragement to work hard and overcome any challenges. She helped me with all the issues or enquiries I had while studying/working. She offered me 1:1 tutorials which I really found useful and gave me resources I needed to pass my course.
After I passed my level 2, I was offered a position at my workplace as a Trainee Neighbourhood Officer which was contacted for 6 months. Following this role, I applied for and was accepted to University to study Health & Community Studies. Doing a housing qualification with Sysco made me realise my passion for community work, and was the reason I applied for university. I also gained knowledge linked to the university modules I’m studying as I’m learning about public health and the health of those in the community and how it impacts different parts of their lives. My Training Advisor also gave me a university reference which helped me with my application when I applied. I really enjoyed studying with Sysco as this has got me to where I am today. It has given me many confidence and most importantly I am enjoying what I’m doing now. I now have set goals that I would like to achieve for the future.”
Sonia Thompson, Nyema’s Line Manager at Symphony Homes said of Nyema: ‘I learned about Sysco as this is a company through which Contour sources apprentices. During Nyema’s Apprenticeship programme the level of support provided by Sysco was pitched correctly to meet Nyema’s needs. Nyema’s Training Advisor was readily available for Nyema and helped and supported her with any queries she had, guiding her in the right direction. The training adviser set up regular meetings with myself and Nyema which was really helpful in terms of me gaining an understanding on how Nyema was progressing through the programme. Nyema is an extremely competent and pleasant individual who picked up things very quickly, her standard of work was very good and she was very pro-active, using her own initiative when required. One of the challenges Nyema experienced was around confidence building and it was really pleasing to observe Nyema overcome these challenges and increase in confidence. Some of the work Nyema did as part of her qualification was around delivering presentations and the feedback she received from her training adviser really helped Nyema to develop further and become more self-aware. The housing qualification was extremely valuable for Nyema as it helped her to gain a more in depth knowledge of the social housing sector and the different career paths that are available in the sector which contributed to Nyema choosing to further develop academically as she chose to go to university with the aim of developing a future career in the housing sector specialising in community development.”