1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am provided with 8 hours of learning time per week. What I do with those hours will vary day by day, week by week - from learning through ebooks on my tablet, to practicing my new skills in store, to face to face group learning sessions. The opportunity to use the time in store has been particularly great for honing my skills.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Yes. I feel I have improved skills in all areas.
The emphasis on reflective learning throughout has been a great way to discover which areas needed focus at different times.
Even in areas where I felt I was already strong, I have developed in ways I never expected going into the programme.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
This has been a great experience for me. I have developed not only retail skills but also as a person. I have gained lasting friendships from the programme and many useful contacts that will serve me well in the future. It has made me feel valued and motivated to perform better at work.
4. How valued do you feel by Co-op?
I feel very valued by the Co op.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I feel like the communication between the provider and the company has been really inconsistent. Having gone through 3 coaches with the provider, I felt it was a little chaotic at times. Often I would find myself being advised one thing from the Co-op and another completely different from Learndirect which led to a lot of confusion.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Initially support was good, with two face to face meetings and making really good progress, however following the departure of my first coach it was really poor. Communication was strictly through email, and inconsistent. A meeting was arranged and cancelled at the last minute which left me feeling unvalued and frustrated.
However, since settling on my third coach things have improved greatly. Remote visits through telephone calls have been really useful and progress has been swift.
I would honestly have rated this a 0 if I had completed the survey 6 months ago however the turnaround since has been fantastic.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
Generally good. Ebooks have been really useful learning tools however solely relying on them to complete performance criteria was not feasible.
My store managers have been very supportive and encouraging.
I did have issues regarding support during a period where I was without a manager, learning facilitator or learndirect coach. I was feeling pretty bogged down and the lack of communication from anyone was really disappointing. I did eventually raise these issues and support was arranged, however I felt like I was using my own free time chasing people and issues rather than learning.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Contract hours were an issue however this was rectified.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
The learning sessions away from store have been really useful, particularly the Co-op led ones. In particular the Coaching session provided was really engaging and I came away from it feeling super motivated.
The qualification provided at the end will also serve me well should I decide to apply for other jobs.
I also feel like being on the apprenticeship has helped provide me with opportunities, for example I will be going to Download Festival to work for the Co-op and this is something I would have been unlikely to axhehieve without the apprenticeship.
9. Would you recommend Co-op to a friend?
Community focus is the way forward. The Co-op has its finger on the pulse with community, doing what matters most - consistently - for our customers.
I have made life long friends from working in the Co op and have never enjoyed a job this much.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Co-op?
Be a team player - not only as a store team but in a wider sense, be a part of the community.
Communicate - speak up when you feel something is wrong. Ask questions if you don't know how to do something.
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