Avenues Apprenticeships - Brendan's story - Avenues Group
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Avenues Apprenticeships – Brendan’s story

Friday 7th of February 2020

“The apprenticeship has helped set the tone for my career … I will always be grateful to Avenues because they have given me a platform to step into the working world and opened my eyes to a lot of things.”

Between 2010 and 2016 Brendan Owusu-Ansah’s daily routine consisted of several hours of morning training on a football field, lunch with team-mates and a rigorous gym workout in the afternoon.

As a professional footballer for Crystal Palace, among others, it was a life that he had dreamt about from the age of five.

“It was exciting. I had a passion for football and never missed a match or training session” Brendan says.

However, a knee injury and the struggle to return to the pitch made Brendan start to rethink his future.

“It was taking a long time to get back to full fitness so I thought maybe it was time to hang up the football boots and play for fun.”

Brendan had a desire to do something completely different. “I liked the idea of going into an office and working on a computer. I thought I could see myself doing that”. However, having been in football since he was 15, and having had to leave college, Brendan was aware his skill set was limited. So when he was contacted about an Avenues Apprenticeship it sparked an interest both in the organisation and the scheme.

“I was passionate about Avenues. When I saw how much they support people with learning disabilities, it was an organisation I wanted to get involved with. It just made sense to me.”

“I felt like learning while working would be beneficial, because when I started to take football seriously, I stopped going to college. I was attracted to having a job but also learning while you are doing it.”

Brendan was accepted for the role and became a Learning and Development apprentice in July 2017. With a mentor, he began shadowing and then carrying out tasks independently.  Brendan was also allocated time to complete his studies, which form 20% of contracted hours, and to meet with his apprenticeship scheme trainer every six weeks.

Avenues support at this time was invaluable “They were very flexible at giving me time to study and very supportive”, he says.

Brendan completed the apprenticeship in around 12 months, but before that he was offered a full time role. “It helped motivate me, knowing that I was doing a good job”.

He feels like being an apprentice helped him appreciate the value of his role “It’s about having a qualification now and the ability to really understand your job. It helped me see why I was doing the things that I’m doing.”

Having had a completely different lifestyle previously, Brendan admits that, at first, working and studying simultaneously was a challenge. But this also gave him valuable skills.

“Because I’d never done it, at first it was a bit rocky. Then I got into the habit. It really sharpens you up as a person because it’s about time management and prioritising your workload”.

The apprenticeship also prepared him for the huge shift in lifestyle from football to the office.

“One of the strangest things was the whole structure of a day in the office, having your lunch at a certain time, coming back at a certain time, even just the office environment. It was such a cultural difference for me.”

“It helped a lot because it’s such a completely different field. I was computer literate but the apprenticeship gave me a good idea of what is expected in the working environment and the 9 to 5.”

Senior Learning and Development Partner Jo Goodbody has seen Brendan grow in the organisation. “In less than three years, Brendan has gone from being an apprentice totally new to the world of Learning and Development, to inducting and developing new L &D starters! He has become a valued member of the team and Avenues for his knowledge, skills, and calm, friendly persona”, Jo says.

As well as benefiting the apprentice, according to Avenues HR Manager Sue Jolliffe, the scheme has many advantages for the organisation.

“Over the years it has become clear that an apprenticeship programme brings many organisational benefits including attracting people with new ideas and the ability to challenge and improve long-standing processes and practices, age diversification and the ability for us to grow our own talent for the future.”

Brendan is in no doubt the apprenticeship has been an excellent foundation for his career ahead

“The apprenticeship has helped set the tone for my career at Avenues or even beyond here, although I definitely see myself here for the foreseeable future.”

“Wherever I end up, I will always be grateful to Avenues because they have given me a platform to step into the working world and opened my eyes to a lot of things. I’ve learnt so much whilst I’ve been here.”