Aspiration Awards 2024: Apprentice of the Year highly commended – Alfred Oki, Professional Training Solutions | NCFE

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Aspiration Awards 2024: Apprentice of the Year highly commended – Alfred Oki, Professional Training Solutions


The Apprentice of the Year category recognises an exceptional apprentice for their work, either within their workplace or in relation to their classroom-based learning, and this year our highly commended Apprentice of the Year is Alfred Oki, who recently completed the Children, Young People, and Family Practitioner qualification. Throughout studying the qualification and in his current role working with children who have complex, life-limiting disabilities, Alfred has been ‘championing men in a sector that has very few’. 

Commitment and dedication to education 

Alfred started his NCFE apprenticeship back in February 2022 and successfully completed the qualification in March this year, earlier than planned and expected, whilst making a significant impact on the children’s home where he works. His positive attitude and eagerness to learn have been evident throughout his apprenticeship, and as a dedicated learner, he’s applied the theoretical knowledge gained throughout his apprenticeship to real-life situations at work, responded well to constructive feedback and provided his assessor with positive feedback on the support he received. 

Alfred has excelled in his qualification and is now using his newfound knowledge to enhance his practice and make a real difference in young people’s lives. In his own words, “I chose to study the qualification because I’m deeply passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of children, young people, and families. This course provides me with the opportunity to achieve exactly that by helping me gain a comprehensive understanding of the complex issues and challenges faced by individuals in this demographic, as well as the skills and knowledge needed to effectively support and care for them.” 

A positive male role model in a traditionally gendered sector 

In the children’s home where he works, Alfred stands as an ambassador, demonstrating that anyone can excel in traditionally gendered roles. His presence not only contributes to a balanced workforce but also provides a positive male role model for the children he cares for. 

By learning extensively about his role, Alfred is truly making a difference and continually recommends and implements new ideas to support them. Alfred is championing men in a sector that traditionally has very few, and his dedication highlights the importance of having male role models in this field and the profound impact they can have on the lives of vulnerable young people. 

Alfred’s dedication to both his learning and his young people showcases how vital it is to have male figures working in the care sector, and the importance of the apprenticeship and the knowledge, skills and behaviours that when taught that can impact on the life of vulnerable young people, and how people like Alfred, who want to make a difference, really can.   

Innovation in communication: The PEC system and standing up for young people’s rights 

One of Alfred's most significant contributions during his time as an apprentice and working at the young people’s home was his involvement in developing the Picture Exchange Communication (PEC) System. This system outlines young people’s rights in a way they can understand, enabling those with little or no communication to communicate using pictures. Alfred’s work on the PEC System, which he worked on tirelessly to implement in his children’s home over three months, ensures that every young person, regardless of their ability or disability, can express their wishes and feelings. From this, Alfred stands as a real advocate to ensure he can help disabled young people in understanding their emotions and wishes, so they can verbalise them in their own way. 

Using the knowledge gained from his course, Alfred also identified that educating vulnerable young people about their rights was a critical area that needed attention, to help them understand clearly what their rights are, how they can raise concerns, and whom they can raise concerns with.  Following this, he implemented a three-month programme to educate the young people in his care to understand their rights, through using social stories, videos, and pictorial images within the home. Many assume that nonverbal children with complex disabilities will not understand their rights, but Alfred found individual ways to work with each young person so that they were supported to understand and ensured that they could have their concerns input into their care plans. 

Focusing on quality and being a team player 

It’s clear to see that the quality of Alfred’s work with young people is exceptional, and that he cares deeply about continually improving on what he can provide. This is shown through his in-depth research to enhance his knowledge and apply it for better outcomes for the children in his care. Extending beyond this, Alfred is also a great team player, supported by his manager, which has been recognised by OFSTED with his home receiving an ‘OUTSTANDING’ inspection rating. His managers speak incredibly highly of him, entrusting him with more senior tasks and roles such as writing reviews and believe he has the potential to progress into a management role in the future. He’s always willing to lend a helping hand, working full-time as well as covering extra shifts for sick and absent colleagues, alongside supporting his own family and meeting demands at home, despite the sector’s recruitment challenges. 

Looking to the future 

Upon completion of his Children, Young People, and Family Practitioner qualification, and his work in the young children’s home, Alfred is prepped and ready to take the next steps in his career within the care sector. Alfred shared with us that his future career plans involve “pursuing a role where I can continue to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children, young people, and families. I aim to work as a practitioner in a setting such as a children's charity, a youth organization, or a family support service, where I can utilize my skills and knowledge to provide direct support and assistance to those in need.”  

His commitment and dedication to his learning, improving the lives and amplifying the voices of those who are vulnerable is truly commendable, making him extremely deserving of this recognition in the Apprentice of the Year category. 

Congratulations Alfred! To read more inspirational stories from this year's award winners, visit our Aspiration Awards 2024 page

The children absolutely adore Alfred; he brings light and laughter into a room wherever he is, and we can honestly say his caring engagement with the children positively impacts on the young people he cares for.

I’ve always believed that what makes me wealthy is not how much I have in my bank account, rather how many people I can see and say yes, I made a positive contribution to their lives when they needed support and care the most.

Alfred Oki, Learner, Professional Training Solutions