It’s National Apprenticeship Week 2021 and to celebrate its ‘Build the Future’ theme, we’re sharing stories from colleagues who have direct experience of apprenticeships at Hastings Direct. Throughout this week, we will hear from those who are currently on an apprenticeship, line managers who play a key role in supporting the development of our apprentices and those who’ve had career progression as a result of their development programme. Look out for some great opportunities to join Team Hastings too!
First up – meet Kelvin, Analyst Developer, and Julia, IT Delivery & Performance Manager.
Kelvin: I joined Hastings three years ago in IT Operations and after working on various projects to help make IT faster and more efficient, I was given the opportunity to do a Digital Technology Solutions (DTS) apprenticeship as I was enjoying the software development parts of my role and the DTS would help build on that with an official qualification. I’m now just finishing my first year of the course and have covered a wide range of subjects that have helped me understand the roles of people I interact with.
What does a typical day/week look like for you whilst studying an apprenticeship?
At the moment, I get one day a week (20% of my work time) dedicated to study for my apprenticeship so most of my week is the usual day-to-day work. For the apprenticeship, we cover two modules at a time and I have two webinars on a Tuesday and Thursday evening which are online with other students and a tutor. On a Friday, I have my ‘uni day’ where I will spend the morning working on one module and the afternoon on the other. In this time I will do my follow up work from that week’s webinars, such additional reading or research, as well as any prep work for the next week’s webinar - we have an online portal with resources and access to text books to support this.
What advice would you give to somebody applying for an apprenticeship?
Whatever level of apprenticeship you decide on - go for it. It’s hard work as you have to fit it in with the rest of your life, but it’s always easy to say ‘now isn’t the right time’ or ‘maybe I’ll do it later’, but when later comes there will be something else. Just go for it, you will learn new things and it will help your career too – win win. I am gaining knowledge but, unlike doing university the ‘normal’ way, you get to apply what you learn right away and see value from your learning almost instantly.
Julia: I have always been a keen supporter of Apprenticeships and, when they first came into play at Hastings, I proactively worked with our Early Careers Team to understand what would be available and suitable for my team. I saw offering an Apprenticeship as a great way of supporting early career talent that would fit well in our team.
What’s expected and required of you as a leader?
At first I definitely did underestimate what this would be! Your responsibility begins before they even start an apprenticeship programme. First steps for me is working with the colleague to understand their motivation and reasons for wanting to commit to this, as it’s important to ensure that a colleague who is interested in an Apprenticeship fully understands what it means. To make the programme successful, they will need to invest their own time too.
We can and will adjust workloads so that they do get the 20% study leave, as it would be wrong to expect a colleague to continue to work a full time role in 80% of the working week. There is also an expectation to be on regular calls with Kelvin and his tutor, to understand his progress, provide feedback and evidence to support his development, and ensuring we provide opportunities within his workload to support what he’s studying and can put it into practice.
What changes have you seen since Kelvin started the apprenticeship?
I think the biggest thing for me is seeing his energy, commitment, enthusiasm and drive for his role – really grasping the opportunities and ‘having a go’. Investing in apprentices as individuals by supporting them on their apprenticeship has a hugely positive impact on their confidence and engagement.