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Apprenticeships – too good to be true?

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

Picture of Dom, Digital Data and Technology ApprenticeBefore joining Welsh Government I completed my degree in History at the University of Reading. After graduating I wasn’t sure about what path to take regarding a career, as until then I’d only worked part-time jobs while at school. Over Christmas I started working in retail as a customer assistant, and began building my experience and skills. After 3 years and undertaking a variety of roles I decided that I did not see a long-term career in retail management and began searching for a different career path aligned with my interests. Initially I was debating going back to university to continue my education; however I was disappointed with the potential prospects offered by a Masters in History. I fired off applications for all sorts of jobs, from the National Crime Agency to air traffic control – just to try something different.

Finding a potential career

I saw the Digital Data and Technology (DDaT) Pathway Apprenticeship advertised on the Welsh Government careers website one day as I was searching for jobs. I was looking for potential career paths which would allow me to work with technology, a keen interest of mine, and develop my digital and ICT skillset. At the time I was considering returning to university to study computer science and had never considered an apprenticeship until I saw it advertised. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to build valuable experience with a reputable employer, learn and develop new skills, and earn money while I work. It seemed a little too good to be true! So I worked hard on my application, made it to interview, and then received a call to say I’d been offered a place on the apprenticeship.

My first placement

I’m currently undertaking my first placement in the team responsible for the support of finance systems in HR. When I first arrived I was very nervous, having not worked in an office before, and was worried I would get things wrong and wouldn’t fit in. However, my team made me feel incredibly welcome and helped me to settle in quickly. They offered to help me with any of my apprenticeship work, invited me along to plans after work and before long I felt like a core member of the team.

I started off on first line support which involved allocating cases to the relevant members of the team and managing the work queue. Before long, I took on more responsibility and started learning how to set user permissions and help users with their queries about the payment system. Currently I’m working on second line support, and still learning more each day. I was allocated this placement due to a background in customer care following my experience in retail and I have further refined these skills as I deal with internal customers in Welsh Government daily. I have also learnt a lot about the systems Welsh Government use to process their financial services and about IT security, as a part of my role is setting up user permissions and ensuring all cases have a correct audit trail.

Training and development

Although I have only been a DDaT Apprentice for a short time, I’ve already had the opportunity to learn a lot of new things. During our two-week induction bootcamp  I learned about working in the Welsh Government and took a trip to the Senedd, worked on apprenticeship training, and experienced team-building exercises which helped bring us together as a group. We have had the chance to attend training sessions related to working in the DDaT Profession and work on projects together.  My apprenticeship group has given me a brilliant ready-made support network; we regularly stay up-to-date and share knowledge and information with each other about our placements. Welsh Government encourages a culture of learning and development, so there are many resources such as training courses available to help to develop knowledge and nurture growth.

What’s next?

I am now nearing the end of my first placement and will be moving to a new team at the end of September.  While I have enjoyed my initial placement, I am very excited for the opportunities ahead and to continue to develop my portfolio of skills within Welsh Government.

Post by Dominic Wheeler, Digital, Data and Technology Apprentice

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