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Merkesha, apprentice

My story as an apprentice: Merkesha

Merkesha, an Ealing resident, is cultural education partnership apprentice at Ealing Council. She was nominated for Apprentice of the Year 2022 Awards because of her performance, reliability, accountability, continued willingness and motivation. Read her story below.

Merkesha’s apprenticeship

“I am part of the council’s culture education partnership for young people. Working in a team of four, I am promoting arts and culture to young people – which I really enjoy. We are also working with teachers to upskill them in different areas and improve the creative services in schools. We run continuing professional development sessions every half term.

“We are also involved in festivals, events, installations, performances and consultations to find out what young people want to see in arts and culture. We want to bring more awareness to opportunities and careers in the arts and culture sector. A creative career is a bit overlooked but we want to change that.

“My team is also trying to support different artists by providing creative opportunities such as funding and networking opportunities. As part of this, I recently started using social media in my role, which I discovered I enjoy and perhaps would like to be more involved with in future.

Why an apprenticeship?

Merkesha had previously undertaken a childcare apprenticeship but wanted a career change.

“I have always looked on the Ealing Council’s website to see what jobs are being promoted. When I saw this apprenticeship online, I was not sure what culture education partnership was. After looking at some examples of what the role could include, I applied. As a young painting artist myself, an apprenticeship related to arts and culture appealed to me.

Being an apprentice during a pandemic

Merkesha joined the council 10 months ago during COVID-19 restrictions.

She says: “I have never worked from home before. It was something that I had to get used to at first. To be honest, I felt a little scared of having to start my apprenticeship and not having people physically around me as support. However, I received incredible support from my managers and other members of staff. I honestly cannot ask for more.

“I have weekly coworking sessions with one of my managers where we work together for a couple of hours, plan our work for the week, etc. These sessions have helped me adapt to working from home. Colleagues are always accessible and I can get in touch with them if I need any help. Despite my initial feelings, I don’t feel like I have struggled with working from home. We now get together as a team once a month to work in the office, have breakfast or lunch together and experience some arts and culture.”

Why recommend an apprenticeship?

“I think apprenticeships are amazing. An apprenticeship can really teach life and transferable skills. You also earn a living while getting a qualification.

“Apprenticeships go all the way up to a degree level. The main benefit of being an apprentice for me is getting experience in a certain field, which is really helpful in making sure this is something you really want to do and pursue. Going to university does not offer that as you don’t get experience before dedicating time and money to a degree.

“My apprenticeship helped me to grow my confidence a lot. If you asked me a year ago, I would have been a bit nervous to do this role. I have really come out of my shell through this apprenticeship.

“I would definitely recommend being an apprentice. Some consider apprenticeships as perhaps not as valuable as a degree, but they are sometimes even more valuable. Apprenticeships are really broadening now – there is more range to what qualifications and roles you can get. Apprenticeships are great and I hope to see them expanding even further.”

Good jobs for Ealing 

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing Council’s cabinet member for decent living incomes says: “Off the back of achieving over 800 apprenticeship opportunities, we are even more ambitious to provide alternative routes into good, well-paid work for our residents. As part of our plan for Good Jobs for Ealing, we are committed to securing 2,000 new diverse apprenticeships, which offer a great route into the workplace or for starting a different career.”

Ealing Council leader Peter Mason comments: “They can be life-changing and offer a fast and reliable way to get qualified whilst getting paid in a real job. They’re available to anyone who is at least 16 years old and not in full time education. Give it a try yourself.” 

Need help finding an apprenticeship?

Visit Work Ealing’s apprenticeships zone to learn more about apprenticeships. If you need help finding an apprenticeship – whether at the council or with a local employer – get in touch with our apprenticeships team.

Help us build cultural future in Ealing

To build on Ealing’s rich tradition of culture, the council is developing a cultural manifesto and renewal plan that develops the arts, culture and heritage offer in the borough. Take part in the consultation by 19 August.

Film and TV creative skills hub

Explore a career in film and TV with JGA Group’s creative programmes and courses.

  • Creativity Squared – helping you to get jobs and education in the film and TV, video gaming, drama and other creative sectors
  • Film and Television Hub – bringing together colleges, universities, local authorities and businesses to help West Londoners into careers in film and TV.

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