1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am the project manager of two projects, one with a value of £18M and the other £6.5M. On a day-to-basis I work with finance, commercial, and engineers to work towards getting the business case and supporting evidence approved in order to be able to purchase equipment and support services, to support the UK Armed Forces.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
None of the skills I use on a day-to-day basis were skills I already had, I've learnt everything from scratch. The biggest thing I've learnt is how the organisation works and how to implement policies and procedures that are applicable to my work. I've also learnt a lot about risk and schedule management, as well as developing my writing skills and how to develop a strong argument for something, and how to generate the eveidence to back that up.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy my job most days. Some days are really stressful and I depend on other people (commercial, finance, and engineering) to do stuff for me to support the project. When this doesn't get done I'm held to account - given the resource issues within the team, this tends to happen a lot. Having said that, when stuff goes to plan and you meet your objectives and deadlines it's satisfying.
4. How valued do you feel by Civil Service?
The civil service pay its employees well, and offer good bonus schemes and reward performance on a regular basis. I feel valued overall by the civil service, but not always by my immediate team due to the stresses that we are sometimes under.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Originally the scheme was managed terribly, lack of communication by the department responsible for the scheme, and between the scheme organisers and our employees - this at times made the course more stressful than it had to be. Things are more settled now and generally well organised.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
We've had a few NVQ coaches and HNC tutors since joining the scheme which has left times where there has been no support and no feedback on work. The NVQ coaches always seem to be more supportive and willing to help, whereas trying to get constructive feedback from HNC tutors is often challenging and ends up being more hassle than it's worth.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My employer is generally quite supportive and we are allowed 2 study days a month in addition to 1 day out of the office for the HNC. Unfortunately work demands mean I rarely take the 2 days a month, ideally I'd have more time off on study leave to work on my apprenticeship but it's tricky, so I tend to let work take priority.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Very well. I've been promoted whilst on the scheme which has made a big difference to my lifestyle. Although I'm paid well I sometimes question whether the stress and responsibility of my job outweighs the pay, but this may be different when I've finished the apprenticeship and can focus 100% on work. Defence discounts we get are really good.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Not pariticularly. The group of apprentices in my organisation are all busy and have kind of lost touch with each other or fallen into small friendship groups. I think there should be more opportunities for apprentices on our scheme to meet up for socials arranged by the scheme provider.
9. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
Good salary, and benefits package. There are also loads of roles within the civil sevice, all completely different. Now that I'm in the civil service there's no doubt i'll stay here, even if that involves moving department to try something new and learn some new skills.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
Be prepared to try a variety of roles in different departments, there are always opportunities for progression, and such variety on offer. Even if your first civil service post isn't your ideal dream job then it doesn't mean you'll stay there. Civil servants get first sight of jobs internal to the organisation and they always try to transfer or recruit from within rather than externally.
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