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First apprenticeship at the Rec Club

Carl Laughna, aged 21, is the charity’s and the rec club’s first apprentice. Below he and his manager, Kelly Rush, explain how it’s working out for them.

Carl’s story

I was born at the Royal Free and I’ve known about the rec club since I was a child - my mum taught me to swim here. She still comes here regularly and she noticed they were looking for a trainee manager. It turned out it was a YMCA apprenticeship and I was so pleased when I got it.

It’s been great for me.  Before I started I had quite a lot of anxiety and I was so nervous on my first day. But everyone made me feel part of the team straight away – they are really lovely people.

One of the great things about learning at a place like this is the range of people who use the centre – children, people who’re struggling with things like arthritis or confined to wheelchairs, as well as fit and healthy people of all ages.

I think the apprenticeship is brilliant. It used to be the case that if you went to university and left with a degree, you would stand out but now everyone has a degree. Apprenticeships give you experience which I think is sought after by employers now. I think apprenticeships are the way forward.

Kelly’s story

This is our first apprenticeship and it’s been a steep learning curve for everyone, not just Carl. We’ve all had to develop new skills - most people have been here a long time and haven’t been responsible before for teaching and mentoring someone.

We had the choice of a one or two-year scheme and decided to go with the longer one so the apprentice could reach a higher level and gain a broader range of skills.

Carl is a great asset. He has the right attitude and he knows it’s a great opportunity for him to get qualified and work out the direction he wants to follow in his career.

The YMCA also does intense courses for people over a period of weeks but this one gives a much wider range of experience of working in a centre like this – not just in personal training but also in first aid, pool plant knowledge and how to interact with a wide range of people of all ages.

I think it’s a great scheme and I plan to get a second apprentice. If we can find them jobs after the two years, we will have grown our own staff, saving us from the churn of recruitment and training new people.

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