Head of Networks
How are apprentices embedded within my team
Andrew Lancaster is employed as the telecoms specialist in the Network Team in Exeter IT. His role involves the management or our telecoms infrastructure, specifically our IP telephony service, incorporating the Contact Centre (automated call handling), as well as our analogue telephone estate. Andrew is involved in all aspects of the technology, from design input, working with the clients, through to technical implementation and ongoing support of the various telephone services.
How apprentices make a valuable contribution, and add value, to my team
Andrew plays a key role in the ongoing support of the University’s telephone infrastructure, and is an essential part of the team in helping to support the University’s key underpinning IT services.
My experience managing/mentoring an apprentice
Since 2007 when I joined the University, I have managed Andrew throughout a significant period of technological and staff changes, providing guidance and a management steer for the strategic development of the telephone services. I can rely on Andrew to work effectively under little supervision as he demonstrates a high level of technical capability, along with his ability to effectively engage with clients and stakeholders of our various services. Our monthly 1:1’s focus on Andrew’s personal development, picking up (as a continual theme) on his PDR objectives and any training requirements, which are mutually agreed and can be either staff development or technical courses. This is also an opportunity to review ongoing tasks, any project-related tasks and any operational issues affecting service, but these are also discussed as and when the need arises during the course of daily duties.
Managing apprentices 20% off-the-job training time commitment
Given the advance notice and ability to forward plan, then it has been relatively easy to allocate Andrew’s 20% training time commitment. Typically this is designated as “every Monday” to provide consistency, ensuring that Andrew’s 20% is ring-fenced, and also allows me to easily plan around this in terms of task allocation, staff resourcing, etc. Andrew is utilising business organisation tools such as universal modelling language (UML) to standardise process flows. He has also applied his influencing and negotiating skills in his interaction with clients.
The apprenticeship scheme provides staff with a much broader learning experience, and allows them to acquire new skills which not only benefits the individual but enhances their knowledge which can add a new dimension to the team dynamic.
Whilst the 20% commitment seems daunting at first, it has been relatively straightforward to manage the workload, with other staff being supportive of Andrew’s apprenticeship.