Audrey Tonge has a visual impairment, but that didn't prevent her from taking part in Apprentice of the Year. She shares how the event was made accessible to her, and the event made a positive impact on her professional and personal development.
Audrey Tonge started working at Hertfordshire County Council as a Support Officer back in January 2017. Keen to progress in her career she decided to undertake some additional training which led her to enrolling on a level 3 Business Administrator Apprenticeship in 2019. Audrey is registered blind and had been finding it difficult to find accessible training until the apprenticeship route was recommended to her.
As she now heads towards the end of her apprenticeship, Audrey decided to take part in the Local Government Apprentice of Year event. Prior to the day Audrey found herself feeling nervous about how the event would operate and how her sight impairment would be accommodated. However, she found herself being very impressed with all those involved in the organising and delivery of the event and their continued support throughout the day, as they regularly checked-in with her to make sure she had everything she needed to fully participate.
Throughout the day Audrey was required to work with a team to overcome a series of challenges. Audrey describes how she was impressed with the support of her team members, their understanding of her situation and the alterations that needed to be made to enable her to fully engage and contribute effectively.
I think my favourite part of the day was when we produced our presentation of the findings of the day and how we would deal with the building. I think this was because I could see how all our ideas had come together and what a success it had been with very little time to plan.
According to Audrey the event involves a series of sessions working with others to create an end product which is then presented using methods that the apprentices will have been taught during their apprenticeship training. Despite the event being busy and full-on, Audrey said she was left feeling very upbeat. Preparation is Audrey’s top tip to any apprentices thinking of attending the event, stating, “the more prepared you are, the better you will work.”
As someone who is keen to progress in their career, Audrey describes how the event has helped give her insight into areas that she can develop. It has also helped her on a practical level, for example giving her the opportunity to consider how she interacts with colleagues both at meetings and on a one-to-one basis. It has also improved her understanding of aspects of her Apprenticeship standard that she had previously been unclear on.
I would recommend this event to Apprentices and feel they would get a lot from the day and be able to apply what they had learnt to the tasks and maybe get a different view of working and how others work.
It is hoped that everyone attending the Local Government Apprentice of the Year event will be able to take away learnings and skills that can be used back in the workplace. But for Audrey, like many others, attendance at the event offered more than just that. For Audrey, she was also able to take away the friendship and support that she gained from her allocated team. Despite not knowing each other at the beginning of the day, Audrey describes how by the end of the event she and her team felt completely comfortable with each other. Whilst networking and building relationships is an important aspect of the day, the ability to develop these relationships beyond that is undoubtedly an invaluable reward.
Local government apprentice of the year booking is open until Tuesday 30 April 2024.