1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an apprentice on the Digital & Technology scheme within HMRC, which I have been on for 18 months. Within my time as an apprentice, I have had various different roles, as I move round the area I am based on 6 month secondments, which helps to give me an insight and understanding of all the different areas within CTO.
I have had roles where I have been required to read the Blueprints for the IT Strategy, and then required to gain an understanding so that I can summarise these from 60-150 page documents, to a 1-2 sided document.
I have also had the role as a Security Architect for 6 months. This included, reviewing Solution Design Documents specifically around the Security included, making suggestions for what security techniques need to be adopted for the solution. I also created documentation for checking the compliance of service providers before we on-boarded them.
My current role is within the Infrastructure team, with a role based around Cloud. In this role, I ma acquiring the technical knowledge so spend a lot of time shadowing those who understand Cloud, and how to deploy Cloud Technologies. However, I have also picked up skills that have allowed me to stand up and deploy Virtual Machines in Cloud Portals, and have picked up skills of using Powershell, allowing me to do this without the support of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). I am hoping to pick up more cloud skills during my time within this team, as this is the area I see myself best fit once I finish my apprenticeship.
Within my role, I have had an input into attending daily stand-ups as we adopt an AGILE approach of working, using KANBAN. I would input the work that I have been doing since the last catch-up and would notify the team of any extra capacity to take on and progress work in the backlog.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Attended Presentation Skills course Attended Advanced Excel Training course Attended Microsoft Tech Events, for Cloud Attended TOGAF course (Architecture Framework) Attended Architecting on AWS course
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The work side of my programme, I enjoy very much. I have varied work tasks that I get involved in, helping to make every day different. I feel that the 6 month secondments around the different areas has really advanced my development in the apprenticeship, and has offered me the opportunity to see decide where I best fit, oppose to just being posted to a position, not knowing whether I would like something else more or not. The company I work for are a great company to work for as an apprentice, understanding the needs of the apprenticeship, and not using you as an excuse for cheap labour (like has been reported in other apprenticeships in the UK). They invest their time and money in you, and really are concerned with your development as they see you as the future of the organisation, so want to train you to be the best you possibly can.
There is a great culture around the company and a sense of a community, with the business areas regularly meeting for team events, to empower the workforce and get everyone together.
I would have to say that I do enjoy my job.
The apprenticeship programme in relation to working for HMRC has exceeded my expectations.
4. How valued do you feel by Civil Service?
Extremely valued. I feel a part of the team oppose to just a tea boy, that some apprentices are used for.
My manager is very appreciative of the work that I do and often praises me in our regular catch-ups.
I have received many internal rewards for the work that I have complete, including recognition bonuses.
I am heavily involved in tasks and projects, and they will not see me an incapable as I am an apprentice - they will push me to do the work and develop myself by engaging in new experiences.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I had a good induction. I was not rushed into getting involved in work, which really helped with my being able to settle in to a new workplace.
The training for my apprenticeship was delivered in 4 lots of 2 week blocks occurring every 2 months, until all units has been delivered.
I had great support from my manager with the programme.
I was given enough study time to undertake the assignments that I was required to complete.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
This has been the only downside to my apprenticeship. The training provider - Capita - have been very unsupportive. It has been has to establish any kind of relationship as I am now on my 5th Talent Coach since starting the apprenticeship.
The marking tended to be slow, and feedback was not very helpful for boosting my marks.
Often when asking for help, the trainer/talent coach would say that they were going to help but would never get back to you, having to repeatedly chase them in order to get any response, often making it hard to progress any work in relation to the apprenticeship. The only reason I have given this a 4 is down to the fact that the temporary Talent Coach I had whilst they found a replacement was brilliant! It was a shame that they did not have the capacity to take the group I am in on, as they were fully booked up with other apprentices.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Lots of support!
The employer was always understanding about my needs and that I am on a development scheme, so need the opportunities to develop, understanding that I will not pick things up as quickly as if I had been in the role for a longer duration.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Exceeds the costs. The salary is brilliant for the apprenticeship. I did not have to relocate as my location is about 1 mile from my house.
I do know that others have had to relocate for the position, emphasising that the scheme is well worth making sacrifices for. I do know from these, that they still manage to live and do not experience any problems with meeting living costs from their salary.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Yes, I have been involved in apprenticeship events, where I have been required to share my experiences to new apprentices, and promote the apprenticeship to those thinking of applying.
I am also a part of RCSL (Revenue & Customers, Sports and Leisure), which offers lots of sporting events to get involved in, with the organisation supporting this and allowing 2 paid days off a year to attend.
9. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
Overall experience with HMRC has been brilliant. A great employer to work for! The only downside of my apprenticeship has been the communication and interaction with the training provider.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
The application process is a long process but don't worry if you do not get a response straight away. Following on from the application and some tests, their is an assessment day where you will be required to complete an interview, group task and a written task. If I had liked to have been told anything in particular, it would be that for the interview, it is competency based, so focus preparation on meeting the Civil Service Competencies.
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