Higher Apprentice Lee thriving in a male dominated sector
Lee Price has carved out a successful career in a male dominated sector, having used a series of qualifications, including a Higher Apprenticeship, to expand her knowledge, skills and confidence.
The 60-year-old mother-of-two from Rhayader is a senior quality and environmental standards officer at Powys County Council but also shares her expertise with councils in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Wrexham and Powys Teaching Health Board.
She’s the ‘go to’ person for creating management systems and auditing to ensure that councils comply with a strict set of standards and regulations that ensures all services run smoothly and operate lawfully and safely. Her wide-ranging job covers building control, adult services, highways, transport, recycling, waste transfer and signs.
Lee has an impressive list of qualifications to her name and is currently working towards a NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety. Many of these qualifications were achieved before she began a Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Systems and Operations Management through learning provider Cambrian Training
She has worked for Powys County Council for 22 years, having previously qualified as a hairdresser and hairdressing tutor. Originally joining the council on a two-month contract as a credit controller in the finance department, Lee went on to secure a permanent post in administration before a job as assistant quality officer came up.
She has not looked back, as she has developed her qualifications and knowledge in the workplace, gaining respect from all across a male dominated sector.
“Most the departments I work with, apart from adult services, are male dominated and I always try to develop a rapport with the men, especially before I audit,” explains Lee.
“Achieving a Higher Apprenticeship as a mature learner has improved my knowledge, ability, confidence and self-belief which has further strengthened relationships with departments and improved a high level of mutual respect for each other.
“Learning more about the waste and recycling industry made me realise how much my colleagues actually know. As I now better understand their jobs and the industry, we all work better as a team and it has improved both the effectiveness and performance of our work together to achieve our goals.
“My learning has enabled me to hugely improve the way I manage and create management systems, auditing, communication and advise on best practice to ensure we can effectively work together to comply with and retain all standards by operating lawfully and safely at all times.”
Lee’s advice for women keen to develop a career in male dominated sectors: “If you have the knowledge and confidence, then go for it. There shouldn’t be any barriers to halt ambition.”
What makes Lee’s learning journey even more remarkable is that she achieved the Higher Apprenticeship nine months ahead of schedule, despite losing her husband of 36 years, Rob, just a month after starting the qualification.
Her inspirational story was recognised last year when she was named Higher Apprentice of the Year Award at both the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru and at Cambrian Training’s annual awards.
“I was never very good at maths in school but doing the Essential Skills as part of my Higher Apprenticeship really helped me and made me much more confident.
“I am a huge ambassador for Apprenticeships and believe they can transform your knowledge, ability, skills and view on life. I think Apprenticeships are the way forward, especially in the current uncertain climate.
“There are many people out there who may not think they can achieve their goals, but an Apprenticeship can help them. You learn the job while you are doing it, at your own pace and without peer pressure that you can sometimes get at college or university. It gives you the confidence to push yourself to keep achieving.”
Jo Weale, Powys County Council’s business manager for highways, transport a recycling, says she is proud to be Lee’s line manager.
“Lee is a true advocate of what you can achieve from Apprenticeships. She has also empowered our own staff and provides support so we can deliver a quality service to highways, transport a recycling as well as internal and external bodies.”