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Apprenticeship Week

9th January 2023

Celebrating Apprenticeship week at Futures for Somerset with Marie Clucas & Caitlin Webster.

Marie began her career with us as an apprentice and has now completed a staggering 3 Apprenticeships.

Caitlin joined us after leaving sixth from & completing her A levels. As well as gaining several years’ experience as a Project Support Co-Ordinator Caitlin’s apprenticeship in Project Management (incl APM PMQ) is well underway.

Marie Clucas

Project Manager

Marie Began her career at Futures for Somerset as an apprentice, For her, deciding to Earn and Learn gave her the best of both worlds. Starting her career with Support and encouragement from an experienced team with knowledge gained and qualifications earnt at college, all while earning a salary

After completing an Apprenticeship in Business Admin L2 and Advanced Business Admin L3. Marie took a break from apprenticeships to Study with the Open University to complete a Foundation Degree in Business Management and communication before finishing her latest Apprenticeship in Level 4 Project Management including Assistant Project Management & Project Management Qualification.

Marie explains what made her choose an apprenticeship, and her experience:

1. Why did you decide to embark on an apprenticeship scheme with Futures for Somerset.

Before joining Futures I did my AS Levels, I thought this would keep my options open to then go on to University. However, I soon realised that I was more motivated to work and earn money alongside gaining knowledge through an Apprenticeship. I still wasn’t certain exactly what job role I was working towards, but knew I enjoyed spending time with my Dad building and renovating. After looking at various Apprenticeship vacancies I came across Futures, the company interested me and I liked the sound of the major project at the time (Building Schools for the Future investment programme involving three new schools in Bridgwater) and after a successful interview I joined the team as a Business Administrator Apprentice.

2. What does a typical week look like for you.

Every day is different, but it tends to be a mix of working from home, being in the office or site visits. The site visits are mainly to the Academies we work with, where the meeting topics vary a lot depending on what stage the project is at. For example, feasibility stage, design, tender, live construction or defects period. There is a lot of preparing and organising required to ensure the project is achieved on programme and budget. I spend a lot of time communicating information between all key stakeholders to make sure everyone is on board, up to date and engaged in the project. I get to meet so many different people in this role and it is also nice to see familiar faces that have been involved in past projects. Even with the most comprehensive upfront planning and investigations, there is still a high chance of the odd surprise due to the nature of projects, so I try to approach it positively and work with the relevant people to find the best solution to overcome the problem. There is never a day that is the same and that is what I like most, I am constantly learning new things and think this will continue to be the case for as long as I’m in Project Management. It is a great feeling seeing the school using the new space as intended and knowing that you were part of the team involved in making it happen.

3. What do you think the advantage is of doing an apprenticeship

You get to work in a workplace and learn on the job at the same time. I personally felt that watching and learning from different colleagues was really valuable and that cannot be gained from a classroom. There is never any guarantee of employment after the apprenticeship but it might be a good step into a company which is what I found. I had time to figure out what career I wanted and having watched my more experienced colleagues in their different job roles really helped. You do also get extra support from your college tutor, other Apprentices on the course and from colleagues. It felt like a stepping stone from Sixth Form into the world of work. The apprenticeship meant I could continue my studies alongside work and I have now completed a University Course as well as a Level 7 course in Project Management. One of my personal goals was to buy a house and invest early, so the apprenticeship opportunity helped me on the right path.

4. How has your apprenticeship help developed your career?

It helped me become more confident in the workplace the more I learnt. The apprenticeship played a big part in my learning and prompted me to ask questions to maximise what I learnt from colleagues. Futures were great at supporting and pushing me slightly out of my comfort zone which was exactly what I needed. I have experienced several job roles throughout my time at Futures, all of which have been useful to fully understand why each task is so important in the bigger picture. Now that I am a Project Manager, having gone through all the previous roles is a real advantage with my organisation skills and I try to improve the efficiency of how I work. I wouldn’t change a thing and am very grateful to Futures for always supporting me and giving me the opportunities to learn. I’ve been here for nearly 12 years and feel very lucky to have a job I enjoy so much.

5. What would your advice be to anyone who is wanting to start an apprenticeship

I appreciate that the apprenticeship route wouldn’t suit everyone, but for a lot of people it might be the best decision – it certainly was for me and I would highly recommend an Apprenticeship at any age. They are also great for anyone already working full time and want to either learn more or have a change of career. I think Apprenticeships are an option that everyone should consider. If it sounds like something that would work for you, I would advise you do research and speak to other people who are either doing or have completed an apprenticeship. If you have a particular personal goal in life, work backwards and create a route on how you plan on achieving it so your work goal aligns with this, it helped me but took me a while to figure it all out. If I could give myself advice before I started the apprenticeship it would be that it is ok to not know what career you want, but just go and try something you do enjoy and see where it might take you.

Caitlin Webster

Project Support Co-Ordinator

Caitlin joined us for work experience, and after returning to Sixth form to complete her A levels, accepted a role as Project Support Co-Ordinator. After building upon her experience Caitlin has progressed to take an Apprenticeship in Level 4 Project Management, Assistant project Management & Project Management Qualification.

Here Caitlin shares her experience and what a typical week looks like:

1. Why did you decide to embark on an apprenticeship scheme with Futures for Somerset.

I’ve never been an academic, but I have always been a practical person. I have always had a real interest in construction and ‘management / organisation’ so when I was 17, I approached Futures to ask if I could undertake work experience. I was accepted to complete a summer work placement. I completed 4 weeks over my summer holiday period between finishing my GCSE’s and starting my A-Levels. After finishing my work placement, I went back to Sixth form to complete my A-levels. On receiving my exam results I was already set on not going to university and I was unsure on what I wanted to do but knew I wanted to be around the construction industry as that was where my interests were. Having struggled academically throughout school with dyslexia I approached Futures and asked whether there was an opportunity for me to complete an apprenticeship scheme with the company to progress my knowledge and start a career path. I went into this apprenticeship knowing very little about the professional construction environment but knew this would be a good option for me to learn and work as I was very set on progressing my career (on the job learning) whilst being able to earn money and feel valued to a company.

2. What does a typical week look like for you.

A typical week in the life for me working for Futures as a project support coordinator studying a project management apprenticeship can vary so much. I tend to start work between 8:30 and 9am working from home the majority of the week, I will catch up on emails which I may not have had opportunity to deal with. I will then focus on what jobs I need to get completed that day which I have been tasked to do, for example it could be meeting with all the project managers to update their project details on a tracker; organising surveys or site visits; drafting contracts; compiling tender packs and issuing; tender compassion exercises; creating proposals; standard business documentation; helping to form business policies and formal documents, the list can go on. Many times, within a week I will go onto site with one of the project managers to shadow them and take meeting notes to widen my knowledge and skills which I can use as part of my evidence for my apprenticeship. I would judge that I complete 40% of my week out on sites and 60% of my week in the office. I also manage a few of my own smaller projects so from learning from the senior project managers I am then able to implement their knowledge as well as my own knowledge which I have learnt whilst completing my apprenticeship and turning them into skills for my projects. Each week 20% of my time is classed as ‘off the job’ for my apprenticeship work which I complete on a Friday and go into the local university centre every other Friday to attend lectures to better my knowledge.

3. What do you think the advantage is of doing an apprenticeship?

There are many advantages to completing an apprenticeship, with different levels of qualification available. The main thing for me is you are able to work within an industry which interests you as well as studying alongside and achieving a recognised study award, this means you are part of a company and you are helping to achieve value for the business. As well as learning you are also being able to earn too which means you don’t have to worry about once you have achieved your qualification that you would be in debt. I think doing an apprenticeship allows you to grow up and learn to take on new responsibilities which you may not of had to do when you were at school, I feel you are also one step ahead than a university student with the real life work experience on top of your qualification when employers are looking at you.

4. How has your apprenticeship help developed your career?

My Apprenticeship has helped develop my career by rather than just learning as I go I have been able to complete industry recognised qualifications which enables me to transfer my skills across projects with certain principles of project management. My apprenticeship has given me a starting point of learning the foundations as well as learning skills and principles throughout working for Futures. Doing an apprenticeship also teaches me what working in the industry environment is like and whether that route is the correct route for me.

5. What would your advice be to anyone who is wanting to start an apprenticeship?

My Advice would be to just do it, if you are like me who struggles with academic studies and learns better in a practical way then an apprenticeship is a way in which you can expand your knowledge and keep on learning through doing what you want to do in an industry whilst also gaining a qualification. Equally if you are academic and just choose not to go to university but want to continue your knowledge and skills through a qualification then an apprenticeship is also a great option.


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