Apprentice Natalie shortlisted for national award
Published by Kelly Elliott for Derwentside Homes Ltd in Housing and also in Communities
Derwentside Homes apprentice Natalie Dixon, 23, pictured with John Atkinson, project manager for the Silver Talk scheme for which Natalie works.
An ambitious apprentice who has impressed her employers by completing her first qualification in the half the time usually taken has now been shortlisted for a national award.
Natalie Dixon, who is carrying out a Customer Services apprenticeship with housing association Derwentside Homes, has made it through to the regional finals of the National Apprenticeship Awards, which celebrate the successes of apprentices and apprenticeship employers.
She is one of just five North East apprentices still in the running for the Intermediate Apprentice of the Year title and, if successful, will go on to represent the region at the national finals.
Having only started her apprenticeship last September, Natalie completed her NVQ Level 2 qualification in just six months and is now looking at options for further study.
But despite her success, apprenticeships were not something Natalie had considered until quite recently. After completing her A levels she started a university course but soon decided she would rather be in the world of work.
However, finding a job proved difficult, with employers looking for candidates with experience as well as qualifications, so Natalie approached Derwentside College for advice and found out about apprenticeship opportunities being offered by Derwentside Homes.
She now works for the association’s Silver Talk service - a volunteer befriending scheme which aims to provide support for elderly and isolated people in County Durham.
The 23-year-old from Consett said: “Looking for work was very frustrating because employers wanted experience but I couldn’t get any without first finding a job.
“I’d not really thought about apprenticeships before but it seemed like the ideal opportunity for me as I’d get to work and gain experience and skills at the same time.
“I absolutely love what I do, I’m the sort of person who likes to be busy and getting on with things and sitting in a classroom all day wouldn’t have suited me but the apprenticeship is perfect.
“Making it through to the regional finals is amazing and I’m so pleased and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given over the last year.”
Natalie was nominated by Derwentside Homes’ HR Advisor Diane Dixon who said: “At Derwentside Homes we really recognise the value of apprenticeships and the opportunities they offer, both to the apprentice and the employer.
“Natalie is a fantastic example of this and has done incredibly well since she joined Derwentside Homes last year.
“She’s become a real asset to the team and I’m sure she has a very bright future ahead of her.”
The National Apprenticeship Awards received more than 1,600 entrants in total, with the North East regional final taking place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, in Durham, on Thursday September 12.
National winners will be revealed at a ceremony in Birmingham in November.