Apprenticeships may traditionally be seen as something that starts a career, but with over 700 apprenticeships now available across a range of professions and at different levels up to Master's they have become much more than this.
Increasing numbers of Imperial staff are taking advantage of apprenticeship funding to develop new skills and gain qualifications – 95 staff are currently studying for apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are open to staff at any stage of their career, with funding available and a wide range of courses on offer.
Apprenticeships Manager, Ailish Harikae, explains why the College is keen to increase the number of staff on apprenticeships:
“During National Apprenticeship Week we’re encouraging staff to take a new look at apprenticeships and see whether they might help them to achieve their personal development and career goals. We know that a fully funded apprenticeship can be a great way to future proof careers and deliver real benefits for the College and we’d like to see more staff starting an apprenticeship.”
Imperial also has a long history of employing technical apprentices and despite the pandemic, two new apprentices joined our Technician Apprentice Scheme in autumn 2020. Entry-level apprentice schemes have been a way for faculties to fill skills gaps, widen participation and attract talented people to the College.
Fola Afolabi is studying a Level 4 apprenticeship in Project Management
Fola Afolabi is a Graduate Management Trainee working in the School of Public Health. She recently started a Level 4 apprenticeship in Project Management which has already helped her to develop new skills that she is applying to her day job.
“I decided to study for an apprenticeship for multiple reasons; I was keen to develop my professional network, learn about managing projects in a practical way and gain the Association for Project Management qualification. The apprenticeship has been amazing so far, as I am learning with a cohort of diverse individuals who work at different organisations. Most of the other people on my course work within local government and the voluntary sector, which exposes me to other perspectives and ways of working.
“My managers are very supportive and ensure I have sufficient time to study for the qualification and gather evidence for my portfolio. Due to the great support system I have within Imperial and the Apprenticeship College, it is very easy to manage my time and wellbeing.
“Undertaking the apprenticeship has improved my ability to manage projects within my day job. I am currently managing a project to improve inclusivity within the medical curriculum. I have been able to apply the knowledge from the apprenticeship to the project, as I have a better understanding of defining the scope of the project, managing different project stages and creating a communications management plan. As a result, I have gotten better at improving clarity and engagement among stakeholders and the project team.”
Overcoming complex challenges
Rob Sherwood, a Product Engineer in ICT, is one of five College staff who are studying for fully funded Master’s. A Master’s is the highest level of apprenticeship (Level 7 Senior Leader).
“I heard about the Senior Leaders Master’s Degree Apprenticeship through the Learning and Development lead in ICT. I had already unsuccessfully tried to self-fund an MBA, but after discussing my development goals with my line manager I was supported by ICT colleagues to make a successful application.
“I wanted to pursue postgraduate education to expand my knowledge and apply new skills to my current role whilst potentially broadening my future. The course really appealed to me because I wanted to gain a greater understanding of how organisations work together to overcome complex challenges.
“The apprenticeship makes the Master’s completely three dimensional - you have to apply all the theory you are learning back to your role and the wider organisation. It teaches you to be constructive with criticism and reflection, to adopt a variety of perspectives in judgement and decision making and perhaps above all, the importance of collaboration.
“There is a huge amount of work involved in a Master’s apprenticeship, it’s definitely not a trivial undertaking. I think anyone who feels they’d like to be intellectually challenged, work with a new professional network of curious people and to become better at their role should have a look at whether there is an appropriate apprenticeship out there for them, it’s a fantastic opportunity to invest in yourself.”