A great year
For Lauren Smith, 2017 has been quite a year. Within the last 12 months the teenager left school, secured employment, achieved an apprenticeship and moved from the family home into her first flat.
While so many other young people are determined to proceed with further education, Lauren was eager to enter the world of work and earn her own independence as soon as possible. So when the apprentice administrator vacancy for a school leaver was advertised by repairs and maintenance service provider Mears earlier this year, she didn’t hesitate to apply.
Mears is Grampian Housing Association’s main contractor for responsive repairs in central Aberdeenshire, and the apprentice administrator is required to spend two days a week with the GHA team to provide Mears with a better understanding of GHA’s customers’ needs.
Lauren said: “I had intended to stay on until the end of fifth year, but the job was actually advertised when I was only a couple of months into my fifth-year classes. By that stage I was talking to my guidance teacher about looking for a job so it just felt right to go for it.
“I really enjoyed school, but once I completed my fourth-year work placement in an office I became more interested in getting a job. I was helping with the admin and it made me think about trying to get a similar role on a permanent basis.
“I was also working as a temporary sales assistant so I was beginning to earn my own money and I wanted to become even more independent. On top of that my older brother had just started working full-time so that spurred me on too.”
More than 20 candidates applied for the role, with Lauren being one of eight interviewed for the position in January 2017.
“I was really nervous about the interview and I was so shocked afterwards to find out I had the job. I was absolutely delighted and I was dancing about the living room when I came off the phone.
“It felt very surreal going into school and asking the teachers to sign my leaver’s forms, but they were happy for me because it’s what I wanted,” said former Kincorth Academy pupil Lauren.
Lauren splits her time between Mears’ Aberdeen office and Grampian Housing Association’s (GHA) Property Services Department. Her working day involves phoning tenants to arrange repair appointments through Mears’ system, meaning the tenant can get a time that suits them for the work to be carried out.
She is the sole administrator for the team in Aberdeen and has the responsibility of ensuring all the jobs are completed and invoiced correctly.
“The job is great for me because I really enjoyed studying admin at school and I am now using a lot of the skills that I developed in class in my new workplace. I am always busy and I enjoy the work which makes all the difference,” said Lauren.
Since landing the job, Lauren has had to complete various training credentials to achieve her apprenticeship. Reporting to a mentor each month, she has been tasked with completing a number of unit assessments; some of which were already covered by her own qualifications from school and others had to be achieved by demonstrating an understanding of her employer’s business and by providing examples of her work.
“The training has been a lot of work but it’s been a great learning experience. I have also had the opportunity to travel for finance and scheduling training in Glasgow and that has been really useful for my role,” added Lauren.
Alexander Carle, property services manager at GHA said: “Having Lauren, a Mears apprentice placement, within GHA repairs has really benefited both organisations as she understands the needs of our customers and the association’s expectations.
“Since Lauren started her apprenticeship her confidence has grown and she has taken ownership of job scheduling, impressing both myself and her colleagues.”
As many of her old classmates are beginning to apply for university and college, Lauren has now achieved her apprenticeship and can look forward to an increase in wages along with a new job title.
She said: “I have no regrets about leaving school, but at the same time I wouldn’t have left if I didn’t have a job to go to. It’s been a huge change in routine for me, the hours are longer, I don’t get to see my friends every day and I have a lot more responsibility now – but I love the job and it’s been a great year.”