Back in 2011 Sarah Clarke dropped out of sixth form and found herself unemployed but joining the apprenticeship scheme proved the right choice for her and she is now deputy to the Electoral Services Manager, helping make sure the borough’s 184,000 residents can vote in local, regional, national and European elections.
Sarah said: “I was out of work and had really given up on myself when someone at the Job Centre suggested I look at an apprenticeship. It appealed to me as it still left me the option to go to university if I wanted while giving me experience, a good qualification and monthly pay.
“So in April 2013 I started a Level Three Business Administration apprenticeship in the Mayor’s Office at Waltham Forest Council.
“For the next 15 months I spent one day a week at Leyton Mill in classes organised by Waltham Forest Adult learning Services and four days a week using those new skills to manage the Mayor’s diary, attend meetings with him and help organise the school appeals meetings run by democratic services.
“I also helped out at the elections which took place and really enjoyed that so when an Electoral Services Officer job was advertised I applied and was delighted I got it.
“I was lucky to get a six-month secondment to the Chief Executive’s office which was fascinating, very fast moving and hard work but a great experience.
“Then in September 2017 the Senior Electoral Services Officer job was advertised and again I was successful so I am now deputy to the manager”
In her new role Sarah runs the annual canvass and its 70 staff who make sure that the 184,000 residents in Waltham Forest eligible to vote are on the electoral register as well as the postal vote services.
She then project manages what happens on election day which sees more than 300 staff working at 120 polling stations and then a further 300 staff at the count.
Sarah said: “Voting day is a long day starting before 6am and often going through until beyond 6am the following day, especially if there are close results at the count.
“Looking back taking that apprenticeship was the right move for me and opened the door to a great career which I’m thoroughly enjoying.
“My message to anyone who is feeling sixth form isn’t right for them is to try the apprenticeship route, it leaves your options open for you so don’t give up on yourself, keep trying and power on through as it will work out for the best.”