Kavan Symons

Mentors, Trackers The Apprenticeship Programme, Skills Jersey

Each day is very different, I will meet my apprentices to coach and mentor them through their studies and career matters. These meetings consist of reviewing what the apprentice has achieved over the last three weeks and also goal setting for the coming weeks. I also undertake reviews in the apprentice’s place of work, these are very similar to the appraisal process and we set goals and targets with the employer. I also recruit new apprentices on to the programme and visit schools and colleges to promote Trackers and the service that we provide. Additionally, I work very closely with training providers to monitor the progress of our apprentices.

What do you think are the three most important skills to succeed in your career area?
Coaching skills, problem solving and goal setting. As with a lot of jobs, a good sense of humour helps along with the ability to adapt.

Was this something you planned to do or did you change direction at any point in the past? If so, what was that and was it easy to do?
I started out my working life in the carpentry/ wood machinery trade. I then moved in to the leisure industry where I worked as a swimming teacher and lifeguard, I did a brief spell as a residential child care offcer, then I worked at Social Security for a number of years in various employment advisory and support roles. I have always enjoyed working with people and helping them realise their potential.

What do you love most about working in your career area?
I love seeing the progression from trainee to qualified tradesperson. We get to work with our apprentices for up to four years and sometimes beyond that, if they go on to HNC level, so they are very different people at the end of their journey. It’s great to see people developing confidence and growing in to their roles.

Are there any negative aspects of working in your career area that people considering it should be aware of?
I wouldn’t really call it a negative, but life happens, and occasionally an apprentice’s attendance at work or college may slip, or they may not be achieving the level of commitment required by college or their employers. We will then use a performance improvement plan with the apprentice to help put them back on track. Nine times out of ten this has a positive result.

What training / qualifications did you undertake for your current role or are you currently undertaking?
Institute of Counselling Certificate in Coaching – currently studying. This qualification goes in to detail around a number of coaching models and techniques and looks at a number of different case studies. CIPD Certificate in Human Resources Practice – Associate (Compass HR O shore Jersey) – this qualification has proved massively valuable to the role in helping to understand how companies and organisations work, go through change and organisational structure. CIPD Certificate in Learning and Development Practice (Compass HR O shore Jersey). Gaining this qualification has helped me massively in the design and delivery of training. NVQ Level 3, Advice and Guidance (BPP Professional Education).

Is there any other information that would be of interest to someone thinking of this career?
Don’t be frightened to undertake voluntary work to gain necessary experience, there are lots of areas where you can offer your services to gain experience of working closely with people. Charities, agencies and clubs throughout the Island offer volunteering opportunities which can provide you with great experience. Be prepared to undertake study in your own time (certainly if you are looking to change career). A lot of the training I have undertaken has been done outside of working hours – evenings, weekends and distance learning – but they have helped me gain the necessary knowledge, experience and qualifications for the role of mentor.