1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a logistics apprentice specialised in physical logistics (internal movement). As an apprentice I move around the business on different placements, usually no longer than 3 months although I have had a placement which lasted for 5 months and another for 4 weeks so it can vary depending on the needs of the business.
Every week I run a report on a Monday, of the performance of the previous week. It consists of several KPIs which are created by data collected from different logistical departments and systems. The report is then used in the managers meeting on a Tuesday morning.
For the rest of the week it can be varied depending on what placement I am in, however quite often, as logistics is considered one of the most important areas of the business, it is hard to find work as it is either too critical for me to be involved in or not enough to spread the load. I do find that most days I am struggling to find something to do and this isn't through not asking.
Departments do try and issue projects to apprentices, however the ability and capacity of an apprentice is often under anticipated and I find that if I have been set tasks it takes me a much shorter time to complete than what was originally planned by the person who has issued the task to me as I rarely have anything else to focus on.
In an office based environment it is usually quiet and so interaction is limited. However there is a lot of communication via email and instant messaging across the business.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
As part of my apprenticeship I am currently studying for a foundation degree in Business Management and Communications which is funded by the business. I am released to college one day a week to study for the course and based on performance in the 2 years of the foundation degree, there is the opportunity to progress onto a top up year in order to study for a BA (Hons) degree in the final third year of my apprenticeship.
As an apprentice, the training, apart from my degree is all on the job and I have learnt about logistics and the systems used within logistics by being released into the business departments on placement. The business uses a system called SAP a lot and logistics look at it for many different reasons.
The BMW Group offer associates courses for software such as Excel, Access and PowerPoint in order to learn how the systems work at an intermediate level or develop your skills on an advanced course in these areas. Although I haven't yet been on a course, I am looking to do an excel course at some time in the near future.
Working for a large global company, there is the opportunity to build links between people from different plants, especially BMW Group HQ in Munich as there are often apprentices from Germany that come over to the UK on short placements to see how the apprenticeship scheme works here and there is the potential, if the funding is raised, for BMW Group apprentices to also visit a German plant in their final year of their apprenticeship.
By speaking to people of different ages and on different hierarchical levels it is an opportunity to develop our professional manner when speaking to people as well as developing a more professional and clear telephone manner once you start talking to more people and building your confidence.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
To be brutally honest the work I am doing is not enjoyable at all. The reporting comes with unnecessary stress as data is often delayed from other departments and as I only had 1 day of training from a German student who left the following day and was the only person that knew how to do it, it has been very hard to get to grips with it and understand what to do as there hasn't been anyone who can really assist me, just those who point out if it is wrong. It often takes me longer than it probably should to complete and trying to arrange a Monday off work is very stressful.
The rest of the week is very dull so it's a case of clock watching for the majority of it. I do enjoy being around the people I am at work but it is hard to talk to them as they are normally busy.
I did not expect the apprenticeship to be as "empty" as it is and unfortunately as a result I don't enjoy my job.
I do however enjoy the degree that I am and after doing A Level business it is something that I am interested to carry on.
4. How valued do you feel by BMW Group?
BMW Group are so passionate about their apprenticeship scheme and the training department here continuously emphasise this and remind us how lucky we are to have the apprenticeship, which is nice.
In terms of the physical work I am doing, apart from the reporting, which could be now taught to someone else if needed, isn't vital in anyway and quite often work for the sake of work so if I wasn't here it would not have too much of an impact on the departments I am working with so in terms of being valued as an important player in the team, there isn't a great deal. However, this is not to say that the departments I have worked with don't value me as a person because they do. I have integrated well in teams and feel that I am valued as part of a team for my attitude and behaviour.
Being a female apprentice, some of the male apprentices would probably argue that we females are valued a little more. This is probably not the case however, BMW are proud to have more females coming into the business as it is a stereotypical male environment.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My placement plan was not finished when I started my job as it was currently being completed by an apprentice who was in their second year. Based on their experience, they created a plan for me as they didn't have one in place either when they started. Although they did the best they could, the plan was quite generalised and could be edited in terms of the time scale of each placement, but this was only discovered after I spent 5 months in my first placement when then work could have been completed within 3 weeks.
Each department is supposed to have a project in place for me to either come into or start so that I have something to focus on during my time in the placement. However, until my 4th placement there was nothing substantial for me to be involved in and even when I had a project assigned for me it was only going to cover up to 2 months of my 3 month placement.
What would have been good is for my training manager to have sat down with the different logistics departments before I started and created a plan alongside the managers of those placements to agree a suitable time and to also agree a project heading or idea so that it can be decided how beneficial the placement could be to me and if the time scale discussed is suitable.
I send a lot of time clock watching which makes the days seem so much longer and when given some work it often takes me a lot quicker than anticipated as I am not focused on anything else. I would much rather be completely snowed under at work so that I know I'll be busy but at the moment I am coming to work not knowing if there is going to be anything for me to do which is not at all motivating.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Abingdon and Witney College provide the training for my degree, they are really supportive and my course leader is very good. She is available nearly all of the time to contact about any issues or questions we have about her subjects or the other modules and also provides some personal support as she also acts as a personal tutor. The course in my opinion is very good and we are not very often left to struggle with something.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
In terms of on site work, there is some support offered although it isn't very often that I see anyone to talk about work. There are some people who are more conscientious of us as people and some who are focused of the benefits for the business.
With college work, the only support I have had is asking if the college are doing enough for our needs in terms of quality of teaching and resources. I don't recall there being any interest from the training department or placements regarding what it is we are actually studying at college and my grades have only been looked at once for my pay review.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
For an 18 year old who lives at home the wage is quite good as I am able to cover house keep costs and phone bills etc. as well as save a little bit each month and have a reasonably good social life. However, I am currently looking at the future and hoping to move out soon and the current amount I bring home a month would probably only just cover the cost of living each month and I find it hard to see that there would be any money left over from my wages to do things socially or even run my car.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are opportunities outside of work for non-related work activities but these are few and far between that I know of. I am aware that TO-1 run a Pub Olympics throughout the year and a different activity is held each month such as a pub quiz or Aunt Sally. I also know that some departments do hold Christmas parties at the end of the year but the opportunity to attend obviously depends if I am in a department at the time that holds a Christmas party.
There are also work related opportunities for apprentices such as representing the company at careers and job fairs to try and encourage people to take on an apprenticeship at BMW Group.
9a. Would you recommend BMW Group to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
I would recommend to someone who is looking for an office job and isn't too motivated to do work. I would not recommend this apprenticeship to someone who would consider themselves to be well motivated and active as there is little opportunity to really leave the office for any reason and work is very limited.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to BMW Group? *
For the recruitment process I would advise that someone looking for a job does a little bit of background reading into the BMW Group in order to gain some background knowledge that could be used in answering interview questions and making links to the business to show application skills.
If you are successful in the application process which include a Maths and English test, neither are too difficult its more of a timing issue, you will be invited to an assessment day. The assessment day is comprised of a group activity, a 1:1 interview and re-doing the maths and English.
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