This is without doubt one of the most positive things I have done in years.
Name: Lesley Palmer
Employer: Cambridgeshire County Council
Apprenticeship: Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
This is the first opportunity I have had to prove myself academically since I left school at 16 in 1978. I wanted to challenge myself but still be able to contribute at work, which to me is very important.
How did you find out about your apprenticeship?
I am a member of the Apprenticeship Representatives Group for LGSS, representing the business support function in Children’s Services with Cambridgeshire County Council. As a member of this group, and wholly behind the importance of ‘growing your own’, I was intrigued by the changes to the apprenticeship programme that came into force in April 2017 and actively researched what would be available.
What do you enjoy most about your Oxford Brookes academic course (at Solihull College)?
The group support has been brilliant. It is good to know that I can ask questions of my peers and that I will get an answer (or several) through our group chat. I am also really enjoying the research aspect of the course - I find it fascinating to go away and explore things that previously I hadn’t really thought about.
What do you think are the challenges and benefits of combining work and study through an apprenticeship?
By doing an apprenticeship through work I am able to draw on work experiences to support my learning and course work and this is and will continue to be a huge benefit as I progress. The main challenge is finding a balance between work and study. Work does not lessen, and it is difficult to always fit everything in and continue to contribute effectively whilst making sure I have time for study. I have blocked out key dates in my calendar and allocated study days to facilitate this.
Can you give an example of where your learning through your apprenticeship has had a positive impact on your role at work?
The main impact at work has been my positive attitude to upcoming changes and the need to understand them better. I am actively participating whenever possible to support the design of databases and implementation of projects, looking at the impact of new technologies on the business support function over the past 10 years and possible future changes.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Outside of work I am a wife, mum to five and grandma to one. I love to spend time baking as this is my way of relaxing - taking lots of basic ingredients and turning them into something delicious to eat and lovely to look at. I also make clothes, like prom dresses and even a vintage style wedding dress for a friend. It’s so satisfying to have taken lots of random bits of material and made something beautiful.
What are your career/development plans once you have completed your apprenticeship?
I love my current role and am not sure that I would wish to change it. I would like to be able to contribute more strategically as we move forward in an increasingly challenging climate with reducing finances and increasing population and I think this is where I will be able to benefit the organisation in the future.
Anything else you'd like to contribute that would give other potential students a feel for what it's like to study a Brookes degree as part of an apprenticeship?
This is without doubt one of the most positive things I have done in years. Age is no barrier to learning, just go for it, and believe you can achieve.