For National Apprenticeship Week this year we wanted to take the chance to catch up with a few of the people in our office who are currently doing an apprenticeship. At Geldards LLP we’re fortunate in that we have been able to support colleagues through different types of apprenticeship and we thought we’d kick off the week with Rob Pink.

Rob is our Learning and Development Trainer and he’s currently doing the Learning and Development Consultant/Partner Level 5 with CIPD Level 5 attached to it.

Rob, tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in Geldards

So, I didn’t go to University, I worked straight from education for a Credit Reference Agency. I started in the call centre helping people with understanding their credit reports and dealing with consumers on a day to day basis, and after a few months I started helping out more with the management side. It was through this that I was able to get involved in training and moved into the L&D team.

In the L&D team I was training call centre staff who dealt with consumers before we expanded into another area of the business who dealt with business to business clients.  As this area of the business hadn’t previously had dedicated training I started working as a L&D consultant. As they previously hadn’t had any training written I had to figure it out from the bottom up, see what was most applicable and then create and run the training for them. I was there for about 7 and a half years before deciding it was time for a change and ended up here.

What’s it like going from one to the other?

It’s completely different really, where I was previously is a multinational organisation with offices across the world. There were about 750 people in the building I worked in and at the time they had 5 sites across Nottingham, so it was a lot bigger. Here it’s around 320 people roughly, I’m known by most people here and it is easier to build up working relationships with colleagues.

As I have more exposure in the business, I do have a better relationship with higher management which makes it easier for me to make a difference here. Where I worked before because it was so heavily regulated everything had to be done in a set way which meant it was hard to change things. As I have no legal background, it was interesting coming in and figuring out what the different teams do.

Do you think doing the apprenticeship has helped you?

I’ve not done apprenticeships before, this is the first time that I’ve looked into it. I’ve wanted to do my CIPD for years and doing it this way means that I can work whilst doing it, and it’s not through University which does the Level 7 in a 2 year course (part time) which isn’t cheap.

I think apprenticeships are a great thing for companies to do and it really helps people, especially people who don’t really want to go to University. If the apprenticeships were around when I finished school, I’d rather have done that; there were the tradesmen apprenticeships but not readily available. It was always everyone goes to University and I was not inclined to go to university, so I think it is really good. It can be more challenging in some ways as you need to motivate yourself to do the work and you’re left on your own a bit more.

The biggest challenge I’ve found is that there’s not as much direction as I may have expected at the beginning; but it’s all about making sure that you know what you’re doing to ensure you meet the expected criteria. It’s good because you’re working whilst doing it, it’s a great opportunity to be doing it as someone who is already working within the Company.

How do you find the balance of the two?

I know a lot of people who have done other qualifications part time and dropped down to 4 days to give them that 1 day out completely to do their work. I’m different as my time can be done whilst at work which works better for me, it is quite easy to slip on the timing of things though. However there are things that I wouldn’t think about, meetings that I wouldn’t think of that actually count towards the time. It’s all about what builds on the skills, you are learning on the job, I’m the one who matches up the hours that I do and the different standards of the apprenticeship.

I’ll have an interview at the end and will chat about my learning journal and where I think that the skills I’ve learnt tie in to my day to day job. It gives me the chance to completely tailor it to what I’m doing as well as challenge myself with new things. For example, the financial side of it isn’t something that I would normally do so I’ve had to catch up with my line manager to get more involved in meetings to learn more. There are always things that you’re not going to be looking forward to, but it is all good experience for me!

How do you find going back to education?

So, the apprenticeship side of it isn’t too bad, it’s the CIPD part of it that’s different as I’m having to write assignments. The first one I did I had no idea were to start as it’s been a little while since I left education and I’ve not really done anything that’s similar since. That’s the challenging bit, knowing where to research and it’s a bit harder here as I’m the only one who does my role so it’s trying to find people to bounce ideas off.

Sitting down and writing assignments isn’t what I enjoy. Although I’ve done document production with policies and other documents for the business, it’s not the writing that’s the issue. With assignments they’re such specific and broad questions at the same time it’s hard to know the best place to research.

What do you enjoy the most about doing an apprenticeship?

I think the best things about apprenticeships in general is the working whilst gaining the qualification. It’s all about how it will come together in the end, it’s knowing that actually I am doing something while I’m working, and I know the qualification that will be there at the end. There are things that I’m having to research which I wouldn’t really think of doing without the apprenticeship, so it’s changed my mindset a bit because of that which I think is a strength.

I would definitely do it again if I had the choice, I’ve wanted the CIPD for years, I’ve tried to do it elsewhere in the past. As an L&D team I think we need to champion apprenticeships as they’re a great way in.

If you’d like to find out more about positions we have available at the moment find us here! Make sure to keep an eye on our social media over the week to find out about others’ experiences of apprenticeships!