Infrastructure Systems Team
An established and senior member of my existing team Matt Harvey took the opportunity to take part in the University Degree Apprenticeship Programme for Digital & Technology Solutions for entry during 2016/2017.
I would not regard Matt as a traditional apprentice since he has been in full time employment for nearly 10 years at the University. During the first year his employment and tasks remain largely as they were prior to entering the programme – administration, support and development of core University systems relating to Email, Active Directory and Identity Management. Work in these areas already requires significant confidence, trust and responsibility because it often relates to secure or sensitive information and can have a major impact when things go wrong on every user at the University.
Where we have changed things a little is to focus on some areas which the Degree Apprenticeship Programme requires experience in which Matt would perhaps not otherwise be exposed to in order to allow him to further develop his skills in these areas and contribute to the Reflective Practice elements of the course. In return we are seeing areas where Matt has naturally developed based on the learning outcomes of the course which mean he is able to approach tasks in a different way. For example rather than jumping in with just a technical solution he is likely to consider the wider implications like maintainability, business impact, risk, security, training and documentation.
In addition we have seen Matt grow in confidence in some areas and demonstrate some of the acquired knowledge particularly around some of the more management and communication focused elements of the teaching like presentation skills, diplomacy and time management.
Matt was deliberately given a mentor outside of the team for the purposes of the programme assessment to provide an unbiased view of his progress. However, naturally I have supported him with some direct feedback and via his nominated mentor in my capacity as his team leader, colleague and friend.
I cannot deny that the 20% time commitment has put a strain on the team at times particularly because Matt works in a key area where we only really have one other staff member who can cover in his absence. Prior planning, consideration and discussions with between local and senior managers before the apprenticeship would ensure the team was better resourced prior to offering apprenticeship places. On the other hand this is a golden opportunity for Matt and he has the full support of the team in pursuing his goal.