Lewisham’s Refuse and Recycling staff recently trained in waste management qualifying them to a National Vocation Qualification Level 2.
Although some other local authorities have had some of their staff pass to this level, Colin Meyer, the Environment Waste Manager, believes Lewisham is the only council in the South East of England to have their entire department (approximately 150 Drivers and Loaders) to formalise their competence and knowledge and be qualified to this level with the Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board (WAMITAB).
To achieve this qualification the staff needed to complete and pass 10 units of the course both by on-the-job assessments and in addition compile a ‘portfolio of evidence’ to demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge and competence to meet the standard set in the qualification.
This is a great achievement and we asked a handful of the crew their thoughts about it.
Alan, a Refuse Lorry Driver of 12 years said “I’ve done lots of courses before but I felt that this course was very encouraging and positive especially for any of the newer people on the job…”
Sid, also a Driver agreed saying “It makes you see that your own way of working might be different to others in the crew, so the course reminds you to work more strongly as a team and helps you to understand your team better…”
“The course pulled people together and gave you even more confidence in your team”, Julian, another driver chipped in.
David a Loader, said “When I went home with my folder (the ‘portfolio of evidence’) my parents asked me what it was all about, and I felt really proud to tell them that I’d gotten a qualification. My parents were really proud and gave me a gift to congratulate me… it felt pretty good… It makes what you’re doing worthwhile. It opens your mind to a different perspective and how you view working in refuse and recycling.”
Jack, whose been a Loader with Lewisham for about 2 years through an agency gave an interesting insight about the course saying “You learn more about yourself too. I haven’t done any training since I left school and when I took on this job I thought it’d be a lot easier than what it was. I know that many people think it’s an easy job, but you have to learn. But now, with the experience that I’ve had over the 2 years, I find it’s easy and I feel even more proud of what I do because I’ve now done this course. I feel that the qualification does give you more opportunity…Maybe I’ll go for Colin’s job next!”
To this, Environment Waste Manager Colin responded “Years ago I started doing an agency job and worked up to being a manager over time. So anything is possible, if you want something enough and you work at it, you can achieve it.”
A lot of people here surprised themselves at how well they could do this course. Some people didn’t think that they were very academic or had the know how to get through the course, but every single person did, so they shouldn’t think of themselves as “just a dustman”, because now they are a highly qualified dustman, not just with experience behind them but also with great potential to achieve more – that’s proven in each and every certificate that was awarded… They should be proud of it, I’m certainly proud of them.”