1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I'm an implementation support officer at Ofsted. I provide support to the Deputy Director, deal with external stakeholders (contacting registered managers of social care providers), support inspectors, help improve services of the inspection planning and general support process. I am also a Programme Board member for the procurement of new contracts. Members of the board are senior civil servants, directors etc.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt many new skills. I have been sent on project management training, social care training and more. I also shadow colleagues in different departments to see how their work helps with mine and supports different process within the organisation.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have a manageable workload, some periods are busier than others (e.g. September when schools commence again). I work in a team of 3, they're very welcoming and support me in every way possible. This scheme has exceeded my expectations. I have been given real responsibility and gained real transferrable skills that many employers will desire.
4. How valued do you feel by Civil Service?
I know I am appreciated at Ofsted. Management encourage me to push myself out of my comfort zone, enhancing my skill set and improving my business specific knowledge. My NVQ and HNC tutors also give me regular feedback, encouraging for me to always aim for the highest mark, explaining how to achieve this.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Very well. They have a clear induction regime. Training is regular as many changes occur within Ofsted. I get great support from my line manager and other colleagues are supportive - they know I came straight from college so they're patient with me as this is my first 'professional' full time job. I get study time away from the workplace which allows me to study effectively (in quiet and not to be disturbed by any work - Ofsted arrange for someone to cover me and monitor my emails when I am on weekly study leave).
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My training provider could be better. However, I feel like I don't really suffer because my CS department are so good. They don't make the complaints procedure clear, the support could be better (it's minimal).
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Ofsted are very supportive. My HR lead is outstanding - he arranges meetings with myself to check how I feel, if there are any problems. If there are any problems, he will arrange further meetings to address and solve them. I couldn't ask for more.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The salary is realistic. Many apprenticeships are poorly paid, it is hard to enjoy things and socialise on some apprentice wages. However, Ofsted value apprentices as permanent employees. We are on a training wage but it is only a slight difference between qualified and training. I am able to save a lot of money and still have a lot of disposable income because I am being paid a 'real wage' instead of an apprentice wage.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The Civil service offers a membership club so civil servants can receive exclusive discounts on days out, football tickets, cinema tickets., shopping discounts etc. The gym membership is an added bonus - very reasonable (no other gym is as reasonable). The location of my office couldn't be better. Right in the city centre. Less than a 3 minute walk from the City's main train station.
9. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
Excellent employer. Their staff are the priority.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
The application process is by no means easy. It is challenging and at times can be stressful. It is also a lengthy process (over 6 months for the apprentice scheme in my case) but it is worth the wait as it is a great opportunity to miss out on. I would have like to have been informed of what CS department I would be in and when my start date was (this was all extremely rushed and caused me some stress).
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