1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
As a Management Information Analyst, I provide regular management reporting data as well as bespoke reports to a range of stakeholders across the UK Visas and Immigration unit.
I also act as the workflow manager within my team, managing all of our data requests from our customers and acting as the liaison for my team.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have attended training courses in Business Intelligence, Assertiveness, SQL and also a 1.5 day induction course for my apprenticeship, featuring training workshops on debate, group presentations, etc.
I continue to develop intermediate skills in MS Excel in the course of my daily role.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I have a very helpful and professional team, who possess a lot of knowledge and experience. My role is very challenging as the role requires that I have advanced Excel skills, but I am continually improving my skills in this respect.
The environment is fast paced and sometimes quite stressful, but this is what I expected.
4. How valued do you feel by Civil Service?
My management often express their appreciation of my efforts which are above and beyond their expectations, and they offer encouragement when necessary.
The level of training and development opportunities offered to me both within the Civil Service and the Fast Track scheme indicates to me that I am valued.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The induction session was generally well organised, although the organisers should not have assumed that everybody's mobile phones would be able to facilitate their scheduling app (in my case, I could not access it at all).
The study aspect of my apprenticeship is one which I am struggling with, mainly because I do not feel that the assessors apply consistent methods when assessing work.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
My talent coach and HNC assessor are reachable when I need them, and they make a conscious effort to assist me when needed, but when I have raised concerns about the programme and my personal circumstances, there seems to be a lack of action insofar as nobody appears to be willing to take responsibility for addressing my concerns. I believe this is more a result of the training provider's limited remit to intervene in situations than any reflection on the assessors themselves.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My team are generally accommodating of my circumstances and allow me some time to study outside of work; however, they are not in a position to assist me with the specific granular details of each of my assignments.
When issues have arisen with respect to my study leave allowance, I have found it incredibly difficult to find anybody within the organisation, be it HR or any other team, that is willing to address and resolve the issues.
I believe that my department considers my apprenticeship to be a lower priority than my day job, which has made it very difficult to give the apprenticeship the level of commitment that it requires.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Although my salary is considered "competitive" for the average age group of apprentices, it is still far below the London average salary and in my particular case, it does not reflect my level and range of experience (it is significantly lower than previous jobs).
As a result, I have had to change many social habits and cannot afford many indulgences which I once took for granted, such as owning a car.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are many voluntary initiatives and opportunities across the country, some of which I have already participated in. For example, I helped to run a Fast Track job stand at Westfield shopping centre, providing information and guidance to potential applicants to the Fast Track and Fast Stream schemes.
We are also encouraged to spend at least 1 day per year helping a local charity or worthwhile cause.
9. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
As with any large organisation, there are things which can always be improved and changed to reflect a changing workforce. But I believe that the Civil Service is still one of the best in the world, and I feel a sense of genuine pride in my role and being a part of this institution.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
The most important advice I can offer to applicants relates to the manner in which they are assessed at regional assessment centres, should they succeed in reaching that point: applicants should not dwell on any areas of the assessment day which they feel have not gone well, because the assessors are looking at their strengths in a multitude of areas. If the first exercise did not go well, move on to the next one with a renewed focus and determination to deliver the best performance that can be given.
As for the online Maths and English tests, applicants must ensure they have spent a few days practicing the online practice papers.
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