We identified the need to start a better succession planning process and to give back to people wanting to get into Higher Education
Ellie Purser, HR Officer
Apprenticeships are the best way to provide people with opportunities to carve out a worthwhile career
Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
We needed an extra person in our team and decided that as Estates were taking on 8 Apprentices we would make it 9. The standard of candidates sent to us for interview was so high
Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
We chose to hire an apprentice to provide an opportunity to someone looking to take their first steps in an administrative career and we hoped that we would find someone enthusiastic, and with a drive to learn and to develop
Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
Short-term: to reduce the ever-increasing administrative burden on our team; long-term: to support and develop someone’s career within the University, hopefully to stay within our team for some time but ultimately to take them wherever they would like to go!
Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
How much time do you have?! The benefits are endless. It means members of our admin team have support with basic tasks, and this also benefits the apprentices as they get to see processes from start to finish – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
An apprentice can have training targeted to departmental needs – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
We have gained so much from having our apprentice: the enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, a new way to look at work" – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
Our apprentice enjoys researching and finding new and better ways of doing administrative tasks more efficiently" – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
There are so many benefits to having an apprentice!
They can often have a completely different perspective to you, which in University administration can be incredibly insightful.
An extra pair of hands with the capacity to take on elements from multiple roles and not just assisting one aspect of administration. In a team where administration spans across HR, Finance, Students, Research and Communications, our apprentice is able to turn her hand to tasks in any of these areas.
With the knowledge that they bring back from their studies, you have a very motivated individual who can bring new skills to the team and improve processes
– Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
You have an additional team member and the apprentice can study and work at the same time. This helps advance their learning while gaining valuable work experience
– Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A MANAGER?
The training period is intense for the first few months, but you're rewarded in kind for the effort you put in – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
Go for it! – Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor
Have the candidates carry out some form of assessment at interview. Choose the training provider carefully – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
If you can, get them involved as an Apprenticeships Ambassador to give something back. My apprentice has got so much out of that. – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
With guidance and support your apprentice can make a valuable contribution to the department. Our apprentice was already adding value within her first few weeks of starting with us, when she redesigned our application process for places on our programmes. – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
Never underestimate the value of having regular one-to-ones with your apprentice and understand that you will need to invest time in them. It is unrealistic to expect your apprentice to hit the ground running, but investing time in them from the outset will ultimately ensure that you get the most out of them in return. We tried our best to support her from the outset and encouraged the mind-set that there is no such thing as a silly question. Also, don’t forget that they are studying to complete a qualification and you will need to factor this into their capacity to help out. Apprentices are expected to complete their qualification within working hours and you need to be able to support this and balance it with the work that you require them to carry out. If the qualification is a good fit with the role they are carrying out, then the two will mesh together and if it doesn’t seem to be an obvious fit at first, there are ways that you can tailor both the job and the college work to ensure it works out for both parties – Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT?
Not to make assumptions about what people's capabilities might be - our apprentices never cease to amaze! – Ellie Purser, HR Officer
Shortlisting and effective interviewing can reap rewards with the ideal candidate – Brian Eade, Laboratories & Workshop Manager
Taking on an apprentice has led to a more motivated and focussed team working environment. Our apprentice is keen to learn and works hard to learn new system and processes that will see the department ahead of new technologies for the years ahead – Liisa O’Brien, Professional Development Administrator
It is a very rewarding experience and although we had concerns about the time it would take to train an apprentice, it is worth every minute, as we get out as much as we put in… and then some!" – Felicity Green, Trainee Administrator
I have realised that it is really down to the individuals, whether they make the most of the opportunities given or not. They will either thrive and develop, embrace all the opportunities given OR take the other route and drift – Yvonne Butler, Payments Team Supervisor
Apprenticeships are a great way to get enthusiastic people into the University. I am about to take on another apprentice and am looking forward to starting a new journey with them – Robert Malloy, Print Studio Manager
TOP TIPS FOR MANAGING APPRENTICES
Consider hiring an apprentice for jobs within your department that are difficult to fill or require highly-skilled work. Get in touch with the Apprenticeships Team who will help you identify a suitable apprenticeship framework and training provider.
Write and review the job description and spend the necessary time writing, amending and reviewing your job description to make sure it meets your needs
Choose the right level of qualification to prepare your apprentice for a future career in their chosen professional area
Provide feedback and support
Schedule regular meetings with your apprentice to check they are reaching their training and development goals. The training provider will be able to support you in measuring progress and identifying any areas for development.
Always let the apprentice know what they are doing well and celebrate their achievements with your team and wider department.
You can also nominate them for an award at our annual ceremony (see the most recent winners in the 2020 University of Oxford Apprenticeship Awards).
Build your team
Don’t treat the apprenticeship as a temporary position. Provide your apprentice with an opportunity to grow within your department.
Involve your team in supervising particular tasks or projects. The Apprenticeships Team provide regular training for supervisors.
Learn from your apprentices! They may have great ideas or new methods that you can introduce
Provide a mentor
A mentor can provide a 'safe space' for an apprentice to address any queries or concerns about their employment and training.
[Ex-apprentices can make great mentors, as they have first-hand experience].
Look to the future
Encourage your apprentice to further their skills with another Apprenticeship at a higher level.