Case study: current apprentice James Roberts

James Roberts

James Roberts is currently an apprentice at Winchester City Council working on Business Innovation & Growth Level 5. James is also a Qualified Project Manager.

Q: Why did you first apply to be an apprentice?
A: When I left college, my intention was to secure an apprenticeship within a well-respected organisation, but the apprenticeship I wanted would need to be specific around the courses I undertook at college to ensure that I could gain the specialist knowledge that would help me identify my career path. This is when I found Winchester City Council.

Q: Take us through your career path so far.
A: Since joining the organisation in 2013 as a Level 4 Project Management Apprentice, I have undertaken a diverse range of roles on projects like Silver Hill, River Park Leisure Centre and Barton Farm. I have also managed my own projects including extending the Magdalen Hill Cemetery on Alresford Road, and the much needed implementation of a car park in Wickham. These projects allowed me to put my training into practise. I have also participated and managed the apprentices within the national Brathay Apprentice Challenge.

Q: How you feel your apprenticeships have benefited you and your future prospects?
A: Whilst it is important to recognise the importance of the qualification in the apprenticeship, nothing compares to the experience you gain on the job, day-to-day. I have been lucky in the sense that I could put my training into practise which has led me to becoming a fully qualified Project Manager, but also knowing I have a wealth of experience behind me going forward at the age of 20.
The opportunities that I have been offered have been overwhelming and I know that without the support of the City Council I would not be in the position I am today.

Q: What have been your highs and lows?
A: I appreciate the sense of belonging in an organisation which prides itself on developing talent and pushing apprentices through the ranks. I really felt the demands and pressure I first faced when started working full time. The transition from college to full-time work was a struggle at first, but I believe that the challenges I faced matured me within my professional capacity. I have gained a good understanding of expectations and good time management!

*James’ manager, Ken Brown, who is Rural Economy & Fieldfare LEADER Programme Manager at Winchester City Council, adds: “I have been involved in the Winchester City Council Apprenticeships programme for four years and have seen over 40 people engage in the programme.

“During interview stage, we began to recognise that many young people struggled to give good examples of team working, dealing with difficult situations and implementing what they had learned. Working with colleagues across the Council, I developed a workplace learning package that complements the vocational training courses and qualifications that most work placement providers can offer.

“This means that today, new apprentices benefit from the life skills, community challenges and team work elements that previous apprentices and I developed. Whilst not unique to the apprenticeship offer, Winchester City Council’s approach means that we have enabled most of our apprentices to move into paid employment or to study a higher level qualification.

“It’s great to hear from the people who were part of the apprentice programme. Last week, two former apprentices contacted me to let me know that they had started their nurse training and another to say that he had been promoted to their first line management position.

“I believe that workplace learning provides apprentices with a great opportunity to develop their talents and test their learning in a safe and positive way. It is great to see them build their confidence and start to challenge the way that things are done.

“I have known James for three years and when an opportunity came up in my team to offer a level 5 Higher Level Apprenticeship, I knew that he was the right person to take on the role. James already had a level 4 qualification in Project Management and this role gives him an opportunity to put the skills and knowledge that he has into real practice.”

Dawn Purver, Apprentice Partnerships Co-ordinator, concludes: “Our apprenticeship scheme offers many exciting opportunities for community projects in addition to the role and qualification studies. We hope that young people will be inspired to apply for one of our current seven diverse apprenticeship vacancies.”