1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
The scheme is structured around 6 months placements in different areas of SSE IT, including Cyber Security, Project Management, Portfolio Management, Change Management and Application Support. Daily tasks and interactions seem to vary massively between placements which has been an ongoing concern for many of the Degree Apprentices. I get the most enjoyment from work when I've been given meaningful work that I can see making an impact in the team and wider SSE. I do not enjoy booking meetings for meetings that I won't be attending or admin tasks that people in the team are too busy to complete themselves. I'm lucky that my recent placement managers have cared about my development and trusted me with work that I feel is adding value
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
The majority of my learning on the scheme has come from my role at SSE rather than from the University course. There seems to be nothing in place to ensure that placements are meaningful and that new skills are being developed. I would benefit from additional training courses aimed at Degree Apprentices to help us mature in our careers- something that I am not sure is currently available. Overall, the general exposure to a corporate environment has helped me develop my softer skills which I recognise as invaluable.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I do enjoy the programme and the majority of teams I've worked in. The friendly culture at SSE means that people are friendly and mostly more than happy to help you. I have some concerns about the structure of my placements and for that reason I'm looking forward to completing the apprenticeship and finding a permanent role I enjoy. I enjoy working as part of a team to complete work that I know will make a difference.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As previously mentioned I have some serious concerns about the structure of the scheme which seems to have no plan or direction for Degree Apprentices. I do not feel that the scheme is any way personalised to my interests and abilities. From personal experience there seems to be little consideration as to what placements you experience and very little done to ensure that everyone gains a similar experience. There is no visible plan for what will happen when I finish the scheme and with only a year left it leaves me feeling very anxious as to what my final role will be. With some recent changes to the structure of SSE IT, there seems to be no one that can provide answers about how we will find a role and transition into it. I would like to see a lot more support from my line manager so they could understand how I'm getting on within my placement, how university is going and what the next placement for me should be. As things currently stand I don't see this happening any time soon.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My line manager is always inundated with work from their role and work associated with the managing of the Degree Apprentice Scheme. I think the Degree Apprentices would benefit from a full time line manager who could fully commit their time to ensuring the scheme run smoothly. As it stands, I don't think the scheme is anyone's real priority leaving a lot of uncertainly. Having said that, I trust that my line manager would be able to help if I had any concerns. Once approached, problems are sorted quickly with a positive attitude to supporting us. I am very grateful to those placement managers who help support my learning and ensure I am gaining a valuable experience. Again, I would benefit from more time with my placement manager to discuss where my next placement should be and create a structure that supports my individual career development.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Support for university is widely available through my academic adviser and through the lecturers per module. General attitude to supporting us is good and the majority are understanding of our other work commitments. Whilst we are only at university one week we are still keep in the loop through email on any important information.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I have zero confidence that the majority of the modules taught at university can be applied to my role. The title of the degree is Bsc (Hons) Digital And Technology Solutions (Software Engineer) which I do not believe represents the modules taught on the programme. So far I have 'learnt' basic HTML/CSS, Python, SQL, Java, along with other modules that I feel are no way related to the title of the degree, Software Engineer. As a result of the varied modules I find myself very much relating to knowing a small amount about each subject but a master of none. I appreciate that Soft Skill modules are important and find that these are the main modules I can apply to my role. I am extremely thankful to the others on my course who have helped me during technical modules which I find especially poor. These lectures have left us to our own devices and I see very little benefit of attending. I have enjoyed Project Management, Business Operations modules which I can see being applied at my role at work. For a degree that was tailored to suit our scheme I find it very hard to transfer the limited skills I have learnt. I would much prefer an IT management degree which I personally believe would match the various roles I complete at work. I believe the title of the degree is very misleading for employers and it something I am concerned about having on my CV.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
SSE encourage all staff to use their Be The Difference day, a paid day off of normal work to help out charities and businesses in need of voluntary support. As previously mentioned the friendly culture at SSE means that their are often social events outside of work to get involved in.
9a. Would you recommend SSE to a friend?
I would recommend the company to work for in general. I can see that staff in permanent roles are supported by their management team and enjoy working for the company. However, I would not recommend the SSE Degree Apprentice scheme which I believe still needs more attention. On paper, the prospect of SSE paying for your degree whilst working for them is great but there are still issues that I have highlighted that I feel need to be addressed.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to SSE?
I would encourage anyone applying to be honest on their application with it accurately representing their abilities- be prepared to be caught out otherwise. The interview process should be for you to understand if the role is right for you as well as SSE understanding whether you're right for them. Make sure you're confident and ask lots of questions.
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