Posted by on 24 February 2020

So I’m now one month into my CIPD, HR Partner, level 5 Apprenticeship with Exeter College.

I have been attending classes in Exeter, tutored by Kathy Hill.

As I mentioned in my last post, our group are from a range of small and large employers in different sectors. It really adds value to talk with my colleagues in the class as they all bring different perspectives on the modules we are learning and the topics we are discussing.

I have started to work on my first assignment (5CHR) which takes the form of a 3900 word report.  Our weekly college days go through theory and give me the background knowledge and tools that I can further research and apply to my organisation.

I recently conducted PESTLE (Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental) analysis of the University and the external factors affecting HR.  I found the exercise interesting and it made me raise my head above the parapet to give me more of a “helicopter view” as opposed to focussing on the issues directly affecting the People Development team.  I was able to discuss my analysis with my line manager in our weekly 1:1s, which I found to be of real value.

Another strategy tool I practiced was Porters 5 Forces, which identifies the intensity of competitive rivalry.  I focussed on the HE sector and the forces that threaten or influence our institution.

I have been sharing my insights with my line manager, and our HR Director.  This not only gives me reassurance that I am thinking along the right lines, but is an interesting talking point for strategic thinking.

I am researching around the questions/criteria raised in my assignment and am finding it really interesting.  As our course is aligned with the CIPD I spend some of my time (usually when I’m driving in/out of work) listening to their monthly podcasts.  I’m relatively new to podcasts, but I’ve managed to listen to a years worth already!

Our skills assessor has now set our cohort up on OneFile e-portfolio.  OneFile tracks progress on the course, tracks our off-the-job training, and allows us to have an online learning journal.  I have found it easy to log in to and quite intuitive to navigate around.

It’s surprising how quickly you start to rack up content in the journal when you’re adding your learning events.  In fact, even writing this blog would count as reflective practice!

Last week I had my first skills assessor visit at work.  We scheduled in an hour to go over my progress so far and go through some general housekeeping.  The visit was useful as it allowed us to discuss work, college and my progress, so that Clive (my manager), Shelley (my skills assessor) and I are all happy with the course content, tasks, assignments and how to track progress.

My advice so far would be:

  • Diarise all 1:1s, training, college days or learning activities in your outlook calendar, and on your OneFile as soo as you do them.  It’s so much easier to do as you are going along as opposed to trying to work backwards.
  • Read over your notes after each college day.  It’s good to go over your notes to help the information “stick”.
    YouTube and Google are your friends (with the exception of Wikipedia…).  There is so much content online that will help you.  Watching YouTube videos of Porter himself talking about how to use 5 forces, as an example, was interesting to see and helped me understand how to use it in the real world.
  • Start your assignment as soon as you get given it!  Obvious I know, however, you might underestimate how much research and work goes in to it.
  • Plan your assignment out.  I set up a template document using the criteria in the assignment to help me, so I can ensure I cover it all.
  • Use the Harvard referencing tool in MS Word.  So glad I found it!  You can add your citations as you go along and then insert the references tool at the end of your work – Word then adds all your citations in the correct format.
  • CIPD website.  This is an excellent resource for this course.  The fact sheets are short, concise and make reference to further reading.  The development framework also has useful content.
  • Keep open communications between your skills assessor and manager.  It’s important to make sure you are all talking so that you have the support you need to complete your apprenticeship.  You manager can help you identify tasks at work that align with your knowledge, skills, behaviours and assignments.  You can also identify potential problems before they become an issue.
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