This week we are recognising National Apprenticeship Week 2024, which has the theme “Skills for Life”. To understand the life-long skills apprenticeships provide, we sat down with our Learning and Development Coordinator Apprentice and Apprenticeship Coordinator, Meshach Philip.
Apprentices have a 90% success rate of taking on a permanent role after they complete their training. At Integral, we offer eight vocational pathways for our apprentices, in the form of Business Administration, Customer Experience, Energy, Engineering/Building Services, Facilities Management, Projects, Sustainability, and Leadership and Management.
Meshach joined us in 2022 to study the latter. His apprenticeship has transformed his career pathway, giving him new opportunities and challenges he’d never experienced before.
Apprenticeships are an incredibly important element of the employment landscape today. They offer foundations to long-lasting employment for people entering the working world, and those looking to expand their skillset or build new careers. There are over 750,000 apprentices in the UK currently, a number we expect – and hope – to grow.
Tell us Meshach, where did you begin your career? Did you initially set out to become an apprentice?
I finished my bachelor’s degree in International Politics in 2020, and I was still working in hospitality. As it was during the pandemic, the “on and off” of lockdowns scuppered my plans to study for a master’s degree, and I did not want to fully commit to remote study for an extended period again. To be honest, that situation was probably for the best as otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken the position at Integral.
Funnily enough, during one of my shifts in the pub I was working at, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who gave me some great advice on my next career move. He advised that Learning and Development (L&D) would be perfect for a former politics student as both subjects converge from a skills perspective: involving public speaking, research, being creative, meetings negotiations, and so on.
I investigated it more and decided to fund my own CIPD Level 3 in People Practice in December 2021 and have never looked back.
How did you end up working for Integral?
I applied for various roles within L&D. It was an arduous process but in February 2022, I was offered an interview at Integral for the role of Learning and Development Coordinator Apprentice. What I found interesting about Integral was the opportunity to be both an apprentice, and the responsibility of leading the apprenticeship process. At first, I wasn’t sure what that would involve, but I was excited because the learning process was interesting from both a theoretical and practical perspective.
I went through the interview process, which included a competency-based interview, a presentation, and a question-and-answer piece for aptitude. I passed all 3 stages of the interview and as of April 1st 2022secured my role as the Learning and Development Coordinator Apprentice at Integral.
What does being an apprentice involve?
Firstly, you must select the route of apprenticeship you take, mine being in L&D. You also need to select which level of study you will partake in from the four available.
Each is equivalent to an educational level:
- Level 2: These apprenticeships provide basic knowledge and skills for specific jobs and are equal to GCSEs
- Level 3: Offers more specialised knowledge and skills and equate to A levels
- Levels 4 to 6: Focus on higher-level professional skills and can be equal to a foundation degree, a Higher National Certificate (HNC), or a Higher National Diploma (HND). They could also equate to a full bachelor’s degree or master’s degree
I chose to complete a Level 3 apprenticeship. Often levels 4 to 6 can require certain qualifications, like GCSE English and Maths, if you do not have this already you can be given additional training to meet those requirements.
At the beginning of my apprenticeship, I was given small projects for the L&D team I was working in. For example, one of my first pieces of work was to outline the LinkedIn Learning Development Pathways for Graduate Learners in the wider JLL company. I also needed to complete my own work within the online training platform, LinkedIn Learning. It was especially important for me to build up my coaching and mentoring skills, where I learned as a mentee how to conduct myself when being coached by a buddy or mentor.
There was also a project I needed to plan for in relation to a change in the Apprenticeship Management process within Integral. I needed to devise a business case, a board-pack to accompany the case, and present it to the L&D lead. So, there was lots of variety of work done within my first few months.
What lessons have you taken away from your experiences, and how have you applied them to the running of Integral’s broader apprenticeship programme?
Overall, being a team player, not taking criticism personally and always asking questions are the fundamentals of being a successful apprentice. It is essential to balance your course with the work requirements – you need to build a relationship with your training officer/tutor and your line manager to ensure that you can effectively balance both.
Finally, and potentially most importantly, be part of the conversation. All mini and social events, whether virtual or in person, is to attend, ask about, or try to join. This will allow you to understand the business more, network, and show your peers you are trying to embed yourself in the work culture. As an apprentice who proves to be knowledgeable about the wider company, will climb up the ranks as opportunities arise from other employees progressing.
What skills for life and benefits does Integral offer to apprentices?
As a building services maintenance company, we offer a wide range of apprenticeships that allow our applicants successful careers. We specialise in Engineering and Engineering Maintenance, which include electrical works, plumbing, heating, and ventilation. However, we also have the office side in Facilities Management, Business Administration, Finance and Management apprenticeships, Human Resources, and of course, Learning and Development.
I was 27 when I started my apprenticeship, but I’ve learned skills that will take me far in my career. If you are a younger school or college leaver, and have not experienced work or job placements before, apprenticeships can be even more life changing. They offer structured support and a feeling of the working world, for example how to manage your salary.
You can learn how to present work in meetings, understand teamworking, network for the first time, and successfully deliver on large projects. Within my area specifically, you can also learn how to establish and manage apprenticeships yourself. There’s a whole world of apprenticeships out there.