1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role involves providing support to the planning policy division, and helping coordinate meetings and help with the current consultation. I work closely with the director of planning policy and work as a PA for him, and in a general secretariat function for the wider division.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt some general office skills including how to effectively organise meetings, improve my communication skills and improve my business negotiation skills. My professionalism has improved and I do feel I have become a more effective professional as a result of my work, however feel the actual skills I could be developing, could be further if I was in a more relevant and effective job role.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I did work in private office for a while as cover which was highly enjoyable and I learnt a lot, however in my day to day role I can get bored and feel like I'm just working as an administrative function. The apprenticeship side of my programme hasn't started and I feel the apprenticeship lead in my department is unhelpful. I enjoy working for the civil service and the opportunities it brings, but I feel in my current role I'm not stretched, the organisation of the educational side of the apprenticeship has been poor, and some of the modules involved are overly simplistic.
4. How valued do you feel by Civil Service?
The civil service as a whole I can't fault. I feel supported and I feel like the upmost is being done to ensure I am happy and as content as possible. The systems in place I feel are there to support me and help me grow. However at times I can feel like my manager isn't interested in my development, and the team as a whole does view how I can serve as an administrative function rather than how I can further myself and my abilities to help both me and the team. I don't feel respected by all my team members either, with many I feel looking down on me and my abilities because of my age, and feeling that I am pigeonholed into a role I don't want to be in, because of my age. It's almost like I'm viewed at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of who gets opportunities out of all the EOs. I have also had EOs suggest to me how they don't think I deserve the same equal pay, because of my age and my lack of degree despite me doing the same role. I often feel I'm doing more AO work than EO work, and that my development and stretching myself is only my interest, no on elses.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
It's awful; I started in November and I have my first workshop next week, almost six months after starting. QA seem to have no idea what they're doing, and are delivering a very poor service. The internal apprenticeship team don't seem to care that much either, and are more interested in covering their own backs than actually fixing the issues we are having with QA. How far they are able to help I do not know, but I don't feel like they have our best interests at heart, because the rate at which this scheme has been delivered and the amount of time they spend on us, is poor.
In my team, like I said, I feel I'm at the bottom of the hierarchy. In the "please consider" box to the left of this comment box it says "studying" and "support meetings/mentor system". The studying aspect hasn't started 6 months in, I logged onto forskills which is frankly a shambles, I got two As at A Level in English Literature and English Language, yet I have to connect the picture of a pin to the word pin in order to get through my apprenticeship?? Something I have to complete when I could be working? And support meetings with a mentor? I have a skills coach meeting Tuesday, but I only have a mentor because I personally asked someone while working in private office, the apprenticeship have done nothing to aid this. My programme has been poorly organised and I don't feel well supported or like the scheme is well structured. And again, the apprenticeship lead in this department is abysmal.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
None as of yet. But to be fair to them, what is the point of supporting someone whose scheme hasn't started? I feel like they do not care one bit, and QA do not deserve the contract they have been given at all. When we had a sign up session, which was poorly organised by the apprenticeship lead in our department, the QA officials didn't seem to have any more idea than us as the apprentices. I'm now looking at other internal jobs in the civil service so I can leave the scheme.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
More than the apprenticeship providers. My manager is nice but at the same time I don't feel my development is her focus. The HR team are reasonably helpful with queries over things like pay. My mentor who I chose off my own back and arranged myself through no encouragement, is very helpful. Support is reasonably accessible if I have an issue but I question if there is any support for apprentices having issues with the apprenticeship? I suppose that's what the apprenticeship lead is for but I would not go to her for support in any instance, given she is often the cause of the problems.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Well, I live at home and travel in. May be harder if you're living alone but for me personally it works out well.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I've joined the gym and to be fair there are substantial civil service clubs advertised, but personally I try to keep my personal life and working life as separate as possible.
9. Would you recommend Civil Service to a friend?
Despite all this, I feel the civil service as an employer is great and supportive. It is only those on the apprenticeship side and QA who are difficult. As for the ageism I feel this would be a problem wherever I worked.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Civil Service?
Stay calm and do your best, everything is working in your favour and your biggest enemy is nerves. Be prepare for a long way with security checks, but once you're in make use of every opportunity you can.
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