Gail Ramsden is to be honoured by the Queen for her services to young people through an ICT apprentice scheme.
Mrs Ramsden said: “It’s fantastic because being a civil servant you tend to be quite anonymous and knowing that my colleagues and senior staff made a nomination and seen the work that I’m doing makes me very, very proud.”
A senior officer IT skills and capability manager at Valuation Office Agency, based in Durrington, Mrs Ramsden helped launch a new scheme that has provided young people apprenticeships, which in many cases has led to further education or full time employment.
“We realised that it was going to be very difficult to staff our IT department so we needed a way to get new IT skills in.
“The IT market is very volatile, fast moving and reasonably paid at the moment,” she said.
Therefore, five years ago Mrs Ramsden decided to start an apprenticeship scheme for young people across West Sussex.
“We partnered up with Northbrook College, but we didn’t get that much interest because people didn’t understand what apprenticeship was exactly – there wasn’t a lot of noise around the topic, so we had to put a lot of effort to contact the schools and target all the young people,” said
Now, Mrs Ramsden said there had been an increase in the number of applicants every year.
“We started them on a one- year level two apprenticeship, then providing they are happy, we move them onto a level three apprenticeship, which is the equivalent of an A Level,” she said.
Many of those who have taken part in the scheme have since moved onto full- time employment, either with the government agency or another workplace. Others have pursued further education at university.
“Next, we want to start out own level four apprenticeship,” she added.
Since launching the scheme, Mrs Ramsden said that the office had become a much more vibrant place to work.
“These people are so important. They bring an energy, enthusiasm, drive, ideas and creativity.
“When we walk into our office, there’s a buzz where five years ago there wasn’t.”
Mrs Ramsden’s close friend, Sue Maskell, of Lancing, said she was ‘immensely proud’ of her.
“I know what she does for the intake of people in at work. She’s going to be hugely recognised now,” she said.