It may seem like an odd choice as midlife crises go. An apprenticeship? In Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT)? When I took the plunge in 2020, I had no real idea what was in store. However, it turned out, to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
So, why an apprenticeship?
I had been working for many years as a special needs teaching assistant but with my own children grown, I was looking for a new challenge to take me into the next phase of my life. I wanted to find a career that I could embrace, that would teach me new skills and would reward the hard work and effort I put in. Although I had no previous experience in the DDaT field I was attracted by the broad range of careers available and the opportunity to gain qualifications while working as well as the flexible working hours offered.
What was it like in reality?
During my 18-month apprenticeship, I worked in three different departments and was involved in a range of varied and interesting projects. From creating social media posts, designing and running training sessions to software testing and website development. I learnt new skills and gained invaluable experience while working with passionate and knowledgeable people who gave generously of their time and expertise. I also discovered that I already possessed many of the skills that are necessary to work in a DDaT role: good communication and team working, problem solving and decision making as well as creative, critical and analytical thinking.
Although it had been many years since I was last in a classroom I was also able to successfully complete the BTEC and apprenticeship qualifications, which helped give me a greater understanding of the DDaT field.
While the other apprentices and I had different backgrounds and experience they were, and continue to be, a great source of support, advice and encouragement. My apprenticeship supervisor, BTEC tutor and placement managers were also always on hand throughout my apprenticeship and helped me to reach my full potential. Also, the ability to work remotely as well as in the office and being able to fit my working hours around my other responsibilities allowed me to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
A permanent position
Having passed my apprenticeship I now work on DataMapWales, a software development platform in the Data and Geography department. I am involved with all parts of the development process, from business analysis to testing, content design to user experience. The experiences and training I received as an apprentice means that I am confident to lead on projects and represent my team with colleagues and the public. However, I am continuing to grow my skills and enjoy meeting the challenges of working in such an exciting and demanding role.
I would highly recommend a DDaT apprenticeship with the Welsh Government, no matter your age or experience. Not only is it a great introduction to an exciting and developing field that will give you highly sought after skills and qualifications, but it also gives you the opportunity to make a difference that will benefit the nation as a whole.
Post by Jane, Digital Data and Technology Apprentice
If Jane’s blog has inspired you to consider becoming a DDaT Apprentice, you can find out more about all our apprenticeship schemes on the Welsh Government Apprentices website. We will be recruiting our next cohort of DDaT apprentices in March 2022 and we are holding virtual sessions for you to find out more about the DDaT apprenticeship scheme and meet some of the apprentices who have already graduated. All the sessions are virtual through MS Teams and will last about an hour.
Here are the dates for our virtual sessions:
- 25th February 13:00
- 17th March 16:00
- 11th April 11:00
To register your interest in attending a session please email firstname.lastname@example.org