Apprentice Nicola plays her cards right!

When UNISON Bury Local Govt branch ULR coordinator Roger Pakeman, UNISON Regional Learning Organiser Steve Swift and Unionlearn’s Mark Rowe revisited Bury Council apprentices to update their skills checks with Value My Skills cards, Nicola Shaw realised the possibilities in the cards. She asked for her own set and has since done skills checks with her mum and a friend’s seven year old daughter; this is just the beginning as she plans to use them with colleagues at work too.

“The day you did the cards with me, I figured out I’d got a lot more skills than I thought I had” Nicola explains. “I thought it would help people around me, especially my mate’s daughter – she kept saying she wasn’t good enough – so I took them home to her and did them with her. She realised she was good at a lot of things, she knows she’s got stuff she wants to work on, particularly listening, but she has agreed to do that with me in a couple of months time, see what she’s improved on. She responded to it well.

I did it with my mum as well. My mum’s unemployed at the moment and she always focuses on stuff she’s not good at; she realised she could get a job in other areas than she’s been looking and she’s starting to look there now, so that’s good. She thought everything was going to be in the “Undeveloped” column, whereas quite a lot of it was “Competent”; she really took to it and was glad she did it by the end of it. I’m doing it again with her in a couple of months as well.”

And Nicola saw the benefit of using the cards and assessing her own strengths in her job; she has a goal to reach and the Value My Skills cards are helping her to get there.

“It gave me a lot more confidence in work than I had before.  At work I had to keep asking questions – I knew I knew it but I didn’t think I was that good at it – now I’ve been using the cards I just want to keep getting better. I really enjoy it. I’m taking them into work with me; hopefully they’ll (colleagues) do them with me. I want to do photography full time; I’m doing an admin apprenticeship at Castle Leisure Centre. It gives me more skills, I can pay my rent, I can provide for David (her son), the job is brilliant; I’ve actually done some photography with work, taking pictures of bikes for Wheels For All – a step in the right direction. One of our photographers has just left, so I’m hoping I might be able to have a chat with some people.

It’s really helpful, when you brought them in I thought it was a good idea and I could help other people as well. I’ve got a lot of single mums in my network and they’re quite shy, I’m trying to help them.”

Lucy Morris, Bury Council’s Young Person’s Initiatives Coordinator, oversees the successful Bury apprentices programme and is always interested in success stories. She has been particularly interested in the cards and the help that UNISON learning team can be and UNISON are working closely with the council around learning. It is great to be able to be of help and so good to see people using the Value My Skills cards outside of work – lots more learning to come from this branch and employer!

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