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Apprenticeships can be a life-changing experience for many, giving apprentices the tools they need to build their career. 

Town planning apprentice Mel Bucknell, 34, started her apprenticeship journey in earlier this year and she’s been talking about her experience so far. 
Mel, who currently works as a planning case worker at Lewes and Eastbourne Councils, decided to take on her Level 4 Town Planning Apprenticeship in April 2022. 
Here’s her story. 

What does your apprenticeship involve? 

“My apprenticeship typically only takes up 20% of my working week which predominantly lands of a Wednesday each week. 

“As all the apprentices on my course live in varied areas, these weekly apprentice lessons are held online, but around four times a year we all attend the college for a week. 

“In total, we have around eight modules to complete. Although alongside our busy paced jobs this could seem a lot, our tutors are always on hand for any extra support that we may require.” 

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?  

“I approached my manager about the town planning apprenticeship, as I not only wanted to further my career prospects but also doing my research into the RTPI, this seemed less daunting and a stepping stone to the degree option.” 

What are the best things about doing an apprenticeship? 

“There are so many fantastic parts to taking on this apprenticeship, from meeting new people who are in the same – if not similar boats – to you or down to meeting experienced and new faces with the knowledge to support my career path.” 

Have you felt supported by the college and your employer? Tell us about that…  

“This time around, joining a college has been so much more seamless and although I think it a lot of it could be down to having a key purpose and knowing from the get-go what my focus is, I also feel without my lecturers and ongoing support it would not feel so pleasing. 

“From my very first meeting on campus, I enjoyed the facilities, class size and in particularly my tutor, Kim, who has backed my career plan with this apprenticeship from the very get go.” 

What do you plan do after your apprenticeship?  

 “The next stage for me will either be completing the degree, if it works out that it will be shortened, but also throughout my studies so far, I have a keen interest into the generation side of town planning. 

Would you recommend choosing an apprenticeship? If so, why? 

“Yes, without a shadow of doubt I would recommend the apprenticeship route to anyone wanting the support in a more relaxed environment without the daunting and full-on approach that can come with a degree.” 

What advice would you give to future apprentices? 

“I would tell all apprentices to look at this opportunity as a stepping stone which gives you all the knowledge you will need to make some changes in the career path that you are wanting to pursue. 

 “I would also say that this really could be life-changing and, if your experience is like mine, you could look at your industry sector in a whole new light which will open your eyes and new doors.” 

To find out more on how to become an apprentice visit: Become an Apprentice | Chichester College

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