From education to employment

#NAW2017 – The Apprentice’s Voice

Friday 10th March 2107 – Case Study

Boots Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice, Amie Norman, 23

Amie Norman, Lead Assistant Supply Manager at Boots, tells us about the benefits of studying a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship with Nottingham Trent University.

Thursday 9th March 2107 – Case Study

Civil Service Fast Track Apprentice, Peter Hughesman, Harpenden

Peter Hughesman thumbnailWhat did you do before the Fast Track:

I joined the Fast Track after finishing my A-Levels at St. George’s School in Harpenden. I studied politics, economics, geography. I had limited work experience before I joined the scheme, I’d been a Sunday league football referee, worked at a summer camp in America and had done work experience with an airline.

What is your role?

I work in the commercial procurement group of the Foreign Office, we buy goods and services for our British Embassies overseas and departments in the UK, which covers everything from gardening services to armoured vehicles. My role has changed a lot since I started, I am currently working in the ICT procurement team, but previously was involved in work on international conferences London Syria donors conference and Anti-Corruption conference.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

The most interesting day I have had was working at the Anti-Corruption conference which was hosted by David Cameron in May 2016 at Lancaster House in London. My job for the day was the delegation liaison officer for New Zealand, which is essentially looking after the Minister and her team. It was quite surreal to be 19 years old and be surrounded by leaders from all around the world and it reinforced why I applied to the Civil Service and think it’s a great place for a career.

No matter what job you are working in, you will be impacting the lives of real people in the UK and around the world, working on issues that matter and make national headlines, which is unique to the Civil Service.

What do you like about the Fast Track?

The opportunities available within the Civil Service to move around throughout your career are the best thing about the Fast Track.

It’s possible to specialise in a specific policy area or skill such as finance or procurement and build up your knowledge in one area, or you could generalise and have a broader role. But you have the opportunity to do both throughout your career and move around different government departments and spend time in the private or third sector.

The Fast Track is a great entry route into the Civil Service, you enter at a junior management grade get paid a very competitive salary and are given support to progress and shape your career into what you want it to be.

How did you find out about the Fast Track?

An apprentice from the Ministry of Defence who was working on security at the Olympics in 2012 came into my school to give a talk about his experiences on the Fast Track and from there I started looking into what the scheme offered.

What was the application process like?

I had to register online and answer a few questions about why I wanted to apply, followed by numerical and verbal reasoning tests online. Afterwards there was a half-day assessment centre involving a group presentation, e-tray exercise and a finally one-to-one interview.

It was a very similar process to other apprenticeship schemes, there’s lots of help and support available online and from Civil Service resourcing.

What advice would you give to someone that wanted to follow in your footsteps?

Start building your CV now and find examples that you can use that demonstrate skills that employers are looking for, and specifically the Civil Service competencies. A lot of interviews are competency based now, so the questions will be along the lines of ‘Describe a time when …’

What do you want to do after you’ve completed your apprenticeship?

I’m not 100% certain, but I think I will look to stay in a commercial team at the Foreign Office for the foreseeable future. That way I can build-up a good commercial skill set before potentially looking to move into a more policy focused role within the Civil Service.

Wednesday 8th March 2107 – Case Study

Boots Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice, Jessica Farnell, age 23

Jessica Farnell, Programme Manager at Boots, tells us about the benefits of studying a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship with Nottingham Trent University.

Tuesday 7th March 2107 – Case Study

Civil Service Fast Track Apprentice, Skeena Ali, London

Skeena Ali ThumbnailWhat did you do before the Fast Track:

I grew up on an estate in north west London and I went to Alperton Community School. Before joining the Civil Service, I went to St Dominic’s College on Harrow-on-the-Hill to study economics, politics, history and english. I woke up one morning and decided that college wasn’t motivating me. I dropped out halfway when I realised education wasn’t really for me. I was keen to start earning money and learning on the job. I wanted to start earning money because of my family’s background and how things were at home.

How did you find out about the position?

I’ve got a really big interest in politics and economics which is what made me think of the Civil Service. I started looking at government jobs on Google, and the Civil Service Fast Track popped up and when I read the description it really appealed to me. The deadline was in two days time so it was so last minute, I filled in the form, but even if you’re pressed on time it can be done. I got through to the online testing stage and then got invited to the assessment centre.

I didn’t get the job the first time I applied and waited a year to apply again. The year I took out after leaving college opened up great experiences for me, and the second time I applied I was successful. The first assessment centre I did I was so nervous! The thought of having to go through all of that got my heart racing, but I knew what to expect so the second time I was much more comfortable and better prepared. So don’t give up if you don’t get through the assessment centre the first time.

What is your role?

A: I work at BEIS, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on nuclear policy. I’ve been an apprentice for a year and a half now and I’m on to my second role now, I chose to do something new so I can get a wider range of skills from different roles. Previously, I used to manage correspondence across the civil nuclear and resilience directorate, which was a really good role for my first job because it gave me an overarching view of everything that the policy covers. So I had a basic understanding of the Government’s nuclear programme. Now I work in the geological and disposal facility team, which works on the future of radioactive waste and how we’re going to manage it. So I’ve gone from working in business administration to supporting policy.

What does a typical day in work look like?

It’s hard to define my role because everyday is so varied. Typically I come in, get myself a full English breakfast from the canteen. It just depends where the policy priorities are, I’ve attended forums where the ministers spoken and policy workshops too. No one day is the same. Some jobs you come in and you’re constantly looking at the clock and just want to go home. Here, you look at the time and it’s flown by because there’s always so much to do. There’s never a day where there’s nothing on, and it’s always so varied.

What do you like about the Fast Track?

You’re supported a lot. My team understand that I’m an apprentice and in my first job after education, but they’re very ambitious with where they want me to go.

The whole point of Fast Track is that you’re going to be the future leaders of the Civil Service, so they do invest a lot in you. With the Civil Service what really appealed to me was that you can move across and do anything. There is a job for everyone. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left college, so I didn’t want to specialise in anything and realise down the line that it wasn’t for me and only have a certain set of skills. With the Civil Service you can move around lots. It’s really easy to transition into different jobs, not just in my team or department but throughout government in any department.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to apply to the Fast Track?

I would definitely say do it. There’s the thinking that university is always the next step, and I think people need to break away from that mind-set. If you know what you want to do and will benefit from university then I’m all for that, but I feel like many young people go on to university without really giving it thought and looking at the bigger picture, because that’s just what everyone else is doing. There are so many different things to do and university doesn’t always guarantee the sort of progression that people want.

Before I started in the Civil Service I didn’t realise there was so much out there, especially because I was a school leaver. Many students have part time jobs to get by, and there are people working towards the obvious ambitions like lawyer, doctor, teacher, but if you’re like me and don’t have a clear steer idea of what you want to do then the Civil Service provides the opportunity to steer you in the right track.

With the Fast Track it’s important that you apply yourself. This is definitely a great first step into your career. It gets your foot in the door and opens you up to so many new contacts, networks and opportunities. If you’re ambitious and believe in yourself, no matter what your background, you will really benefit from this environment.

Q: Do you ever feel you missed out not going to university?

There are pros and cons to not going to university and starting the Fast Track, but there are more pros. I don’t feel as though I’m in a worse off position than my friends who go to university. My friends always complain they don’t have money and are in debt and count down the days until their next student loan drops. Of course, they’re getting an education, but with the Civil Service, you’re not devalued because you haven’t graduated from university.

If you complete the Fast Track you can apply for the Civil Service graduate scheme, the Fast Stream which goes to show you’re not held back just because you don’t have a degree. I feel like I’m in a better position than my friends having started my career early. I don’t feel like not having a degree will hinder me in moving on from the Civil Service either because of how much high level experience I’ve had already and the networks I’ve built, and my friends still haven’t finished university yet. I also have more funds to go off and do things that they’re not able to do, such as going on holiday. I just sent my mum on holiday to Saudi Arabia, so I’m so pleased that I can do that for my family and for myself, as well as learning on the job.

Monday 6th March 2107 – Case Study

Prudential Apprentice, Florence Hopper, from Reading, age 22

Florence Hopper thumbnailIn February 2017 Florence won the Young Women’s Trust ‘Exceptional Apprentice’ award at a ceremony that celebrates the achievements of young women who have overcome barriers to personal or professional success. She describes her experiences as an Apprentice with Prudential:

“When I joined the apprenticeship programme I was the youngest person in Prudential’s Finance department.

“I applied for the Prudential Apprenticeship Programme at age 18 when I was in my final year of A-levels and I was looking for an opportunity to begin a career in finance without going to university.

“Right from the start I was committed to learning and progressing in my role and I was determined to study in my spare time to gain my professional accountancy qualifications.

“While it’s been an extremely rewarding experience and I’ve grown both personally and professionally, it’s definitely not been an easy journey. Studying while working full time and balancing commitments outside of work is always challenging.

“My advice to anyone looking to begin their career, in whatever field, would be to be the best version of yourself and to jump in with both feet – taking every opportunity you’re given.

“For me it’s led to the successful completion of my studies as well as a full time role. And to top it all off I was honoured to receive the ‘Exceptional Apprentice’ award from the Young Woman’s Trust in February 2017 in recognition of my achievements.”

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