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National Apprenticeship Week 2019: Callum and Neil share their stories

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On the final day of National Apprenticeship Week 2019, Callum shares his journey from leaving sixth form to starting an apprenticeship at the VOA. Neil started an apprenticeship whilst working at the VOA and also shares his experience managing an apprentice.

“I applied for an apprenticeship at the VOA in 2017. I’d left sixth form, after not doing particularly well and I’d started working full time in retail. I was never informed of the higher apprenticeship option at school and I was always pushed towards university. I felt stuck with the job I was doing and needed a change. I applied for the fast track finance scheme as that is the one I thought I would enjoy most. I was offered a finance role at the VOA which I started January 2018.

I don’t usually feel nervous or anxious but I’d never stepped foot in an office before and had no experience working in finance. I couldn’t sleep the night before my first day, but my nerves quickly went away as I was given a whistle stop tour of the office. I settled in quickly as the team around me were great. I now regard them as friends as well as work colleagues.

I’m now half way through my apprenticeship and the Level 4 Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) accountancy qualification. I have experience working on a range of tasks and I’m leading on three projects. I also won a VOA award for change and continuous improvement. The VOA has provided me with support, opportunities and learning experience and I now feel I am an integral part of my team.

Applying for an apprenticeship was the best decision I could have made. I would urge anybody to seriously consider the option of Civil Service Apprenticeships.”



“I left education with a few A Levels and I later felt I’d missed out on studying for a degree. So when I saw the Chartered Degree Management Apprenticeship (CMDA) opportunity, I applied.

The CMDA is a 3 year Open University (OU) degree comprising 6 modules (3 theory-based and 3 work-based), each taking around 8 months, followed by a fourth year spent consolidating the learning and attending a formal interview and delivering a presentation to a professional panel, similar to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) assessment of professional competence (APC) in style.

Many of the tutors have completed an OU degree whilst working themselves so are sympathetic to the work-life-study balance. Most of the learning can be completed online through structured modules broken up into weekly sections, with local tutor-led face-to-face events every 6 weeks.

Each module takes approximately 10 hours per week, although this increases when assignments are due. I'm allocated one day a week during work time for work-based projects or studying. I then spend a few evenings a week or a day or two over the weekend studying. It requires self-discipline but the course content keeps my interest.

I'm now halfway through my second year, currently studying a theory module on globalisation, world trade and global supply chains whilst reflecting on how I react to change for my work-based study module. In addition to widening my business knowledge, the greatest benefits have been improving time management, prioritisation and communication skills and I’ve increased my confidence in writing for different audiences.

The CMDA is enjoyable, rewarding and interesting. You need a high level of commitment but the end result, an OU degree and a Chartered Management Institute accreditation, will be well worth the effort.

The manager's view

I also have experience managing an apprentice. As part of my line manager responsibilities, I was sent an information pack on the team member’s learning journey and I participated in a teleconference to find out what was required of me. After this I held a meeting with my team member and their allocated tutor, who will support them through their apprenticeship. I used this induction phase to find out more about the course content and to discuss and agree an ideal balance of work-based and theoretical learning.

Although we discuss progress during monthly meetings, the additional time required as a manager is minimal. It’s important for me to ensure that relevant opportunities are available so that my team member can provide evidence of development in their learning journal.

There are many advantages to supporting someone through an apprenticeship. It's fairly light touch for the manager but the individual gets a high level of training and develops a broad range of skills. I am so encouraged by the increased skills apprenticeships can bring to the individual, their team and the VOA that I am looking at the possibility of another team member starting an apprenticeship this year.”


Check out some of our other apprenticeship stories on our blog.

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