Embracing apprenticeships across careers during National Apprenticeship Week 2024

Submitted by Amelia O'Hanlon | 06/02/2024

To honour this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) theme, Skills for Life, Vertas Group are pleased to reaffirm its commitment to offering learning opportunities to colleagues at every stage of their careers.

Vertas Group’s people-focused approach is a cornerstone of the company’s success, and the Group are passionate about upskilling existing colleagues, ensuring a highly skilled workforce. As a result, the company is delighted to invest in apprenticeships, allowing those further along their professional journey to benefit from continuous learning.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we sat down with Jo Spencer, Head of Schools’ Choice, who shared her experience of undertaking an apprenticeship later in her career. Jo is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership and highlights some of the diverse benefits of completing an apprenticeship as an existing colleague.

Can you tell us about your experience of your apprenticeship so far?

My experience so far has been positive. I should have undertaken this earlier in my career, however, reflecting now, my role as head of a large operational team with a complex service portfolio of business professionals, gives me lots of opportunities to apply my learning in the role. My role makes the qualification come to life and be more than the theory of strategic leadership – I am learning and practising at the same time, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to combine the two.

What qualification will you gain by the end of it?

I will be a member of the Chartered Institute of Leadership and Management, have a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Leadership, and can complete one further assignment to “top up” to an MBA.

How easy was it to enroll?

The enrolment process was accessible. Initially, my CV was followed up with a meeting with the course leader to discover more about my background and appetite for learning within my role. My line manager confirmed I would take the course as part of the government-funded apprenticeship route – and that they would be a sponsor to my studying so I could access the apprenticeship levy fund, and I was accepted onto the course. The enrolment process requires the government funding courses to be completed and some assessment of expected learning.

How well supported do you feel by the organisation? What sort of support could someone expect to receive?

The modules I have undertaken so far, are Change Management, Corporate Risk and Governance, and HR Management for Leaders in the Global Environment, Strategic Information and Information Management. All of these are relevant to my role, and I have been able to undertake primary research through discussions with directors and senior managers across the business which has been valuable in researching my assignments. I would expect where we are supporting studies, we will be able to support learning through formal assignments to support the value of studying.

How do you manage your workload alongside studying?

I find this better than I had expected. My course is modular, with 8 taught modules over 18 months. Each module is two days and is broadly every other month, term time. Each taught module is focussed on the assignment required to be submitted as evidence of knowledge and understanding applied in the work role. There are up to 8 weeks to complete assignments. This is flexible in how and when the work is done. Due to the assignments being work-based research business proposals, it has given me the opportunity and purpose to explore areas for the business I may not have done before, and, to bring my learning back to my team and the Schools’ Choice business area. I have found my assignments particularly relevant to my work. I work full time, have two young children, a team of 120 and can manage my time in a balanced way across the modules due to the flexibility. The module dates are booked for 18 months in advance by the university, so I have plenty of time to manage my diary ahead of time.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of undertaking a higher level/degree apprenticeship?

My advice to potential students is – just do it. I had considered for 5 years, but there was always a reason to not, as things always “pop up” in life. I have been fully supported in completing my studies and benefited in so many ways. The course is flexible if needed to defer and re-join in later modules which I have found reassuring to know in case of family emergencies.

Can you describe your overall apprenticeship experience in 3 words?

Should’ve don’it sooner – does that count?

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