Apprentice Natalie to compete for national title
Published by Kelly Elliott for Derwentside Homes Ltd in Housing and also in Communities
Derwentside Homes apprentice Natalie Dixon, winner of the North East Intermediate Apprentice of the Year Award.
An ambitious County Durham apprentice is through to the national final of a prestigious awards event celebrating the successes of apprentices and apprenticeship employers.
Natalie Dixon, who is carrying out a Customer Services apprenticeship with housing association Derwentside Homes, was named Intermediate Apprentice of the Year at the North East National Apprenticeship Awards.
She will now go onto represent the region at the national finals, with the overall winner announced in November.
The win follows a year of hard work for 23-year-old Natalie, who completed her NVQ Level 2 qualification in just six months, around half the time normally taken.
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 project - a volunteer befriending scheme which aims to provide support for elderly and isolated people in County Durham and is part of Derwentside Homes’ Silver Knowledge service.
Natalie, of Consett, said: “Looking for work was very frustrating because employers all 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. Sitting in a classroom all day wouldn’t have suited me but the apprenticeship is perfect.
“Making it through to the national 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 what 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.”
The National Apprenticeship Awards received more than 1,600 entrants in total. The North East regional final took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, in Durham, on September 12.