Apprentice Helen Mitten represents other young achievers at London VIP event
NOT long ago Helen Mitten was not sure what to do with her life after A-levels.
But now she has been a guest in London at a VIP event, representing hundreds of other young apprentices from around the country and talking to government Minister, Francis Maude, head of the Cabinet Office.
The 20-year-old’s story goes back to sixth-form college — like many students, she had plans to go to university after A-levels, but was not sure what to study or what career path to take.
Fate then took a hand for Helen — in her first year of A-levels, she got poor grades and quit college. Then she decided to return to study to try to get her A-levels, and was eventually accepted by Bolton North Sixth Form College.
Helen, from Horwich, said: “I was still planning to go to university, probably for the student lifestyle away from home as much as anything.”
But, although she got good enough grades to take a university degree, fate again intervened.
She said: “I met my boyfriend and we decided to get married. That changed my ideas — we got a house together and my priorities were different.”
However, Helen wanted to earn a wage to help the couple’s finances, but she also wanted to have a structured career path.
She said: “I saw some information about apprenticeships which sounded good, then I spotted one for the civil service that sounded really interesting.”
Helen applied and, against competition from thousands of other young people, she was chosen for one of only 100 places for a two-year apprenticeship on the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme.
The new scheme was launched to give talented and ambitious young people the opportunity to work at the heart of government.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Helen started with the Crown Prosecution Service in Manchester, where she is training to be a paralegal, preparing cases before they go to court.
She said: “We actually start our training in college in January, but we have some time to settle in first and become familiar with the work.
“It’s great because I can also study, and law was one of my A-level subjects, so this job is bringing all my studies to life.”
Helen also enjoyed her visit to the capital and meeting other young apprentices in a variety of roles.
The Civil Service Fast Track aims to eventually increase the total number of available places to 500, to match the graduate Fast Stream.
Minister Mr Maude said: “We are working to reform the civil service, building on its strengths while addressing its weaknesses. Like any big organisation, the success of the civil service depends on its staff.
“It already employs some of Britain’s best and brightest and we have one of the most popular graduate schemes.
“But we are in a global race and we need to attract more of the best talent, including those who have chosen not to pursue higher education.
“This new Fast Track Apprenticeship scheme will provide high-quality opportunities for 100 young people, in addition to those available through the existing graduate Fast Stream.
“Rather than going to university the apprentices will learn on the job, and at the end of the scheme they will be able to apply for graduate career opportunities.”
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