National Apprenticeship Week 2022 – Celebrating success with Laura Crowther

Laura Crowther is gaining experience, a great understanding of the business plus a CIPD qualification in her first role out of university as an HR apprentice.  It’s a win win situation for both her career and her company.  Read more

Level 3 HR Apprentice Laura Crowther

Tell us about your role

I am an HR Assistant at Leathams based in Dartford. The business distributes innovative, quality foods from around the world throughout the UK and Europe. It’s a family run business with a workforce of 153. Many of our employees have been working here for over 30 years so it does have that sense of being a close-knit community. I joined six months ago and the position appealed to me because it was an apprenticeship. There is no HR team and I report to the Director of Operations Mark Ballard. Because it’s just the two of us, I’m getting great all round HR experience.

What is your previous career experience?

Although I have had some L&D administrative experience this is my first official job.  I graduated with a first in Criminology and Sociology from Sheffield Hallam University in 2020.  It was in the middle of a pandemic and after I finished my dissertation, I had a big question mark over what to do next.

What prompted you to become an apprentice?

Leathams was advertising for an HR apprentice so I applied and was successful. I enjoy learning new things and the fact that I can get experience and a professional qualification while testing the waters in HR was important to me.

What is your experience of the programme?

It’s been really positive.  The programme is a Level 3 apprenticeship, so I am benefiting from gaining a holistic understanding of the foundations of HR along with the behaviours and knowledge I need to be an effective HR practitioner.  The modules move logically from one topic to another like stepping stones and work well with my role. The VLE and online resources are very useful and so easy to follow.  There is a whole range of resources so I can read an article, watch a video or listen to a podcast all of which appeals to different styles of learning. I am applying aspects of my studies that I have read about to my daily work experiences which is great. It feels like it’s a win win situation both for my role and my future career.

How do you work with your Watson Martin adviser?

My adviser is Emma Taylor and she’s lovely!  I don’t like doing things wrong so I often ask her to clarify what I need to do in case I have misunderstood the question. She is always there to help and is so kind and patient. She is always open and responsive either by email or through our regular progress reviews over Teams to keep me on track. Overall, we have a very good apprentice/adviser relationship. She knows when I need her and when I don’t. I feel comfortable that she will not judge me for asking a ‘silly’ question.

How do you manage the 20% off-the-job studying time?

My line manager is very understanding and supportive of the 20% off-the-job studying time.  I tend to study for my CIPD when I have a slight lull in my workload. I’m used to independent learning, so I know how best I work and prefer to study as and when rather than dedicate one day a week to my qualification. A lot of what I am learning is applicable to my job which helps.

I do find having to reflect on what I’ve done a little tedious, but I realise that it does help me to slow down and learn more from each task which, of course, is beneficial.

What new skills and knowledge have you developed to support your role?

As each module moves me forward, I learn more about both theory and practice of HR which is helpful to my work. I recently learnt about the structure and culture of Leathams as an organisation so I’m also gaining a good understanding of the business, which is particularly important as I am new to the working world. Because the qualification is going hand in hand with my role, I often take snippets from an assignment or my independent learning and realise I have just demonstrated a particular skill which is exciting. The apprenticeship helps me to feel more confident and comfortable at work because I have a better understanding of HR.

What are your ultimate career aims?

It’s too early to say but I am enjoying HR. The apprenticeship is helping me to understand more about what I’m good at and passionate about.

Would you recommend Watson Martin to others?

Yes, 100%.  Everyone who I have met at Watson Martin has been easy to talk to and they don’t over complicate things. The apprenticeship is organised very well.

What is your top tip to others thinking about starting an HR or L&D apprenticeship?

Be mindful of your ability to self-motivate. You need to have the resilience to keep going when you are learning new things and juggling your assignments with your workload. An apprenticeship will definitely pay off if you keep on top of everything.

Inspired by Laura’s story? Progress your career by enrolling on an apprenticeship programme with Watson Martin today!