Karla triumphs in national challenge to find shining apprentice stars

“I am incredibly proud of Karla for going outside her comfort zone, challenging herself and seizing opportunities that come her way through her apprenticeship..."

Local Government Apprentice of the Year Karla Overington

Release date: 7 May 2021

Local Government Apprentice of the Year is Karla Overington – a West Sussex County Council apprentice who triumphed in the national competition set to find shining stars.

More than 100 local government apprentices faced six virtual/ online challenges throughout the day, in teams of people they had never ‘met’ before….and Karla, a Business Administration Apprentice from Littlehampton, won the overall title.

“It was a fast paced, full on, interactive day, but it was great to meet new people and be provided with the opportunity to learn and develop,” said Karla, who works in the council’s Highways, Transport and Planning directorate and is based at County Hall in Chichester.

“The most challenging aspect was feeling under pressure to perform whilst also being assessed but I feel absolutely thrilled, delighted and honoured to have been given the chance to represent Highways, Transport and Planning at such a well organised event.”

The challenges were based around themes within apprenticeships, such as stakeholder management, networking, and an enterprise challenge. Judges were looking for apprentices willing to push themselves and test their skills and capability.

There was a winning group, three single runners up, and the overall winner, Karla, who won Love to Shop Vouchers.

Karla’s senior manager, Jane Glue, Business Assurance Manager, said: “I am incredibly proud of Karla for going outside her comfort zone, challenging herself and seizing opportunities that come her way through her apprenticeship at West Sussex County Council in the Highways, Transport and Planning directorate.

“We are fully invested into giving apprentices an excellent introduction to the county council and the directorate and equipping them with the skills to grow their careers.

“We are seeing huge benefit from running an apprenticeship programme and the apprentices are helping us develop our talent pool and provide high quality work to the directorate.”

Before becoming an apprentice, Karla, 36, ran her own cleaning business but had to give this up because of an injury.

Karla said: “Prior to running the business I had obtained a law degree and so decided it would be a good time to try to build on this and develop my career.

“I saw the apprenticeship advert and thought, ‘bingo!’ It offered everything I was looking for in an office environment, support, experience and a qualification to back it up.”

Karla said the directorate had exceeded her expectations in being welcoming and she hoped that, long term, she would be able to secure a permanent role within Highways, Transport and Planning.

Jo Bentley, Apprenticeships Programme and Learning and Development Commissioning Manager, said: “Highways, Transport and Planning run a fantastic programme for their apprentices, who are both new recruits and existing staff.  Their enthusiasm and drive to grow their apprenticeship programme has been showcased both across the County Council and nationally. 

“The support they provide apprentices is exemplary and includes supportive line managers/placement managers, WhatsApp Apprentice group, buddy system and mentoring.  Their commitment and investment in staff development help create a diverse and skilled workforce, addresses workforce challenges and improves the quality of work being produced by the directorate.”

Information about apprenticeships, career tasters and volunteering opportunities can be found on our jobs section.

The Local Government Apprentice of the Year competition was open to all level 2 and level 3 apprentices in local government and jointly organised in partnership between the East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) and South West Councils, with prizes sponsored by the Local Government Association. Guest speaker at the challenge was Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Gillian Keegan, MP.

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