Apprenticeships in HR or Learning and Development are a great way to develop your people professionals and bring new skills to your organisation using Government funding through the Apprenticeship levy. Here, three of John Lewis Partnership (JLP) apprentices who recently passed their HR Level 3 programmes with Watson Martin, explain why apprenticeships are good for both the business and the individual.
Veronica Kenny believes the Level 3 HR Apprenticeship provided the ideal route to gaining a qualification and improving her professional development. A Personnel Policy and Advice (PPA) specialist at JLP’s Head Office in Bracknell, Veronica was delighted to achieve a Distinction in her two year programme as well as gain the CIPD Foundation Certificate in Human Resource Practice along with Associate Membership of the CIPD.
I always wanted to do some form of further education and when I joined Personnel at JLP the CIPD qualification became of interest to me, but I was concerned about how well I would be able to apply myself doing it alongside working full time. When the opportunity came about to do the CIPD through an apprenticeship I felt it would be perfect for me because I could allocate a percentage of my working week to the programme. I also enjoyed the opportunities the apprenticeship gave me to job shadow other areas of the Personnel function as well as to network and work on my own personal development, it wasn’t just about studying.
The timing of starting my apprenticeship worked well as shortly after I joined PPA I was able to apply what I was learning in the CIPD qualification to my role as a specialist. I was also able to use my apprenticeship to gain more experience, take more time out for my own personal development and spend time with other areas in Personnel. I believe this has made me better at my role and better able to advise others.
The CIPD aspect of my apprenticeship was really valuable for me because so much of my work is focused around employment, aspects of which such as employment law and employee engagement are fully covered in the qualification. My adviser at Watson Martin, Leanne Bucknor, was always available for me to email and ask any questions or arrange a call if I wanted to talk through my queries in more detail. As I was approaching the end of my apprenticeship, Leanne gave me all the necessary support so I felt prepared for the EPA.
As a result of my apprenticeship, I have gained new skills, knowledge and a better understanding of wider HR topics. The programme encouraged me to learn and expand my knowledge which has in turn supported me in my role as I feel more confident and informed.
I think that apprenticeships are really beneficial to JLP because it gives Partners the opportunity to obtain a qualification but also to explore other areas of the business for future career moves.
I would recommend an apprenticeship. It is a good way to obtain a professional qualification and work on your personal development at the same time. You have the support of your employer and can utilise contacts within the business to support your learning.”
Successfully completing a Level 3 HR Apprenticeship has already led to promotion for Hannah Curry who, as HR Project Support at John Lewis Partnership (JLP), is involved in the rollout of the company’s new Human Resources management system Workday. Previously in an administrative role as a Learning Support Coordinator, Hannah believes the apprenticeship, along with the CIPD Foundation Certificate in Human Resource Practice, has given her a much wider understanding of HR policies and practices and is delighted it led to her new role.
The apprenticeship has helped me to understand areas of HR that I’m really interested in and has helped me to set goals for what I want to achieve in the future. Having the CIPD qualification will be useful when applying for jobs within HR.
I have become so much more resilient since being on the programme and now understand the importance of taking time to focus on your personal development. In my role, I don’t have a huge involvement in all aspects of HR, so the apprenticeship has really helped me to build understanding across HR and not just in L&D. I’m now able to apply this knowledge to my job which has created further development opportunities. I definitely feel more confident and better at my role because of the apprenticeship.
I think apprenticeships make the organisation a lot more attractive both for recruiting new people and for existing Partners. I knew I wanted a career in HR so having a professional qualification to support that alongside the benefits of CIPD membership and being able to see the world outside of JLP was very important to me. By looking at other organisations and seeing how their structures work, the apprenticeship made me realise what a unique business we are.
The team at Watson Martin was always on hand to support throughout the programme. Each module was covered by a one-day workshop where we had the chance to understand the content in more detail and a safe environment to ask questions. All the facilitators and advisers were helpful and always made time to talk to me one on one when I needed that. Their knowledge and experience have been so valuable and got me over the finishing line. My advisers Dee Gemmell and Leanne Bucknor were a breath of fresh air and I always felt I could go to them with questions.
I would recommend an HR or L&D apprenticeship route to others. You have to be prepared to give time to yourself to study and balancing a busy full-time job can be difficult, but the end result is definitely worth it. JLP is offering apprenticeships for most roles now and it’s seen as a progression route for all Partners.”
The fear factor of returning to education after an almost ten-year gap was one of the main reasons behind Ashley Trim opting for the apprenticeship route to improve his HR skills and knowledge. The two-year programme offered him the opportunity to work while learning and now, having successfully completed his Level 3 HR Apprenticeship and with a CIPD HR Certificate in Human Resource Practice safely under his belt, Ashley believes it was definitely the right decision.
I had been looking at studying for a CIPD qualification for a while but once John Lewis Partnership (JLP) offered the HR Apprenticeship, I jumped at the chance. The personal development it provided was immense.”
Promotion came thick and fast for Ashley during the apprenticeship programme. Formerly a Resource Administrator with JLP, he first secured a temporary HR systems implementation project role before being offered a secondment as a Redeployment Specialist. Now a Resourcing Section Manager at JLP’s head office in Bracknell, Ashley says there is no doubt that the apprenticeship and CIPD qualification will be good for his future career.
“I think the apprenticeship has already been useful and will continue to be valuable. I have already received a promotion and I am able to use the skills and knowledge I obtained during the apprenticeship. I have also learnt to believe in myself more and have seen huge personal development growth giving me the courage to push myself more. As an HR practitioner, having a CIPD qualification and Associate Membership is more important than ever in these difficult times.
I can’t say a bad word about Watson Martin. The support was always there when we needed it and things were made clear in our workshops. When the pandemic started and the first lockdown hit, the team at Watson Martin was very informative and made it clear it was about us as apprentices and therefore not to feel pressurised to carry on, but if we chose to the support was there. My tutor Leanne Bucknor was amazing, checking on my wellbeing during my studies and I feel she truly brought out the best in me leading to a great final result.
I would 100 percent recommend an HR or L&D apprenticeship route to others. It allows you to develop and evaluate yourself. Knowing you are studying and learning together with your cohort really helps too and you receive support from your manager throughout. This is the first time I have been a people manager but having learnt from the CIPD qualification, I now have the overall confidence to do my job but also not to be afraid to ask for help if I need it.
Having returned to studying 10 years after finishing university and successfully completed the apprenticeship I know that I am on the right career path to move forward. It’s been such a positive experience I’m even ready to take the plunge and start my CIPD level 5 or 7 qualification!”