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Having been diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition shortly after becoming one of the first ever apprentices to join Newport City Council, Carley Dowding knows more than most just how much Apprenticeships can change a person’s life for the better.

“Prior to my Apprenticeship I was working in a coffee shop, and I knew that it was not what I wanted to do long term,” Carley explains, “I had worked in hospitality and retail since I was in my early teens, but I was finding it very hard to branch away from this as I didn’t have relevant experience.”

At the age of 21, Carley started looking for Apprenticeships based in her home-town of Newport, applying for a one-year Business Administration Level 2 qualification and becoming one of the City Council’s first ever apprentices in the process.

“Being one of the original apprentices was a very exciting time, it was a new experience for the apprentices, the teams that we were placed in, and Newport City Council as a whole,” Carley says. “The amount of effort and time that went into training us and ensuring that we had everything we needed to continue on our career paths was incredible.”

“It has also been a strange journey for me, however, as in the time since my Apprenticeship I have been diagnosed with a degenerative condition that affects my sight. Due to this I have since been registered blind, so I am very lucky that I have received continuous support from colleagues, managers and HR to work around this and find ways to work that suit me too.”

Placed within the Education department, Carley’s Apprenticeship involved supporting the Early Years Integration team by managing calendars, booking and attending meetings, completing digital filing and as a point of contact for partners and nursery settings. She also got to visit early years settings and attend panel meetings, giving her a first-hand understanding of the team’s aims and objectives too.

That was five years ago, and Carley has been employed by Newport City Council ever since, working as a Ƶs Officer, School Support Officer, Administrator with the Child Protection Unit, and currently as a Business Support Officer with the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) team.

The Apprenticeship has opened so many doors for me and it has set me up on a career path that I thoroughly enjoy.

“My goals for the future now are to continue my career journey within Newport City Council, wherever that may take me, and to continue to adapt to working life with my condition.” Carley said.

“I would absolutely recommend an Apprenticeship and my advice to young people who are considering this route is that it is truly invaluable. For me, it was a perfect balance of work-based experience and learning an Apprenticeship.”

If you want to find out more about apprenticeship opportunities currently available head here.