What led you to enrol on an apprenticeship?
I had been working for my employer since 2013 and I felt that my career had stagnated. I had learned and undertaken all of the tasks required as an Administrative Officer and accomplished all of my goals/objectives for the recording year and needed a challenge - something that would help with my development and help me reach the next level.
Permanent Executive Officer roles were advertised at the same time that the Apprenticeship scheme was launched. This was a new opportunity and I decided to apply for the scheme, feeling that acceptance would be more favourable to my career than an unsuccessful job application. I know now, 11 months later, that I made the right choice.
What does your role as an Apprentice entail?
I carry out case work defending Judicial Review claims and have established my own case practice. Once a case is allocated by my Team Leader, I read the grounds of claim and send the client my advice. Once I receive their instructions as to how they would like me to proceed, I draft the grounds of defence for filing at Court and serving upon the Applicant's solicitors. I also assist Lawyers and fellow Caseholders with their own matters when deadlines overlap and when their tasks are more urgent. This enables me to develop my experience across a wider spectrum and being on the Apprenticeship means that I am trusted to carry out the work with minimal supervision.
What have you enjoyed most about the Apprenticeship?
It has been a very long time since I undertook any kind of training and I had not experienced an exam since attending my A-Levels (which were called O-Levels at the time)… that long ago! I have previously worked as a lay Union Official and Case Officer for a large Trade Union and now, mid-way through my second semester, I have found that learning a new sector of law to employment law is very rewarding and keeps me on my toes. The course is structured and well presented. I particularly enjoyed the earlier part because it provided an overview and background to the law in the UK as a foundation on which is set out in the modules.
What has been a personal highlight?
Once accepted onto the Apprenticeship programme my Team Leader and I had a meeting to decide the best way to incorporate this into my role. Before a proposal could be finalised, I found out that I was successful with my application for a temporary promotion for the Executive Officer role. This immediately allowed me to carry out my own case work, on a greater scale than I would have previously been able to. I feel that my career has really taken off now. This is something I directly attribute to my Apprenticeship.
Have you got any advice for school leavers looking for the right career path?
Try not to focus on the best-paying jobs or employers. This may work out okay depending upon the profession or sector, but it won't always lead to personal success or job security. Go on-line and research any prospective employers, to find out how much, if any, of their work matches up with your skills or qualifications and whether the company itself can live up to your own aspirations.
Depending on where you live and your chosen profession, it may be an idea to choose a large organisation, one with various departments and/or with diverse interests. This can provide flexibility and developmental opportunities as vacancies are more likely to arise. Big firms will also offer apprenticeships and a good standard of training to prepare you for the next step, so don't be afraid of starting at the bottom rung of any such company – you'll be surprised how often and how far you can advance within a big firm as opposed to being initially better paid by a smaller one where opportunities for advancement can be scarce.
Also, where there are insufficient full-time opportunities in your chosen field, consider enrolling with an agency; it is a good way to develop skills and gain confidence. Each assignment will provide insight into the employer which will help you determine whether the role suits you whilst providing the flexibility to move on if it does not.