Overall I have been an apprentice for 1 and a half years. I started my journey as a Level 2 apprentice in May 2015. I started off working in Finance in the IBC (Integrated Business Centre) for Hampshire County Council, originally working on the Care payments team and then moving across to the Energy Management Team. In the care payments team I helped set up and pay for care for elderly and young people. In the Energy Management Team I paid invoices for water, gas and electric bills for buildings around Hampshire. I really enjoyed working in Finance because I like working with numbers, so I was in my comfort zone a bit. After six months in Finance I moved to HR. This is where I worked for Hampshire Fire and Rescue and Hampshire Constabulary sorting out the payroll and taxes. I found this quite scary and challenging as I had to communicate on the phone with Police Detectives about their pay. It was really interesting for me to be able to get an insight into the Fire and Police Services.
The Level 2 apprenticeship was my first ever experience with any apprenticeship. It didn’t take me long to adapt to what was required of me. When I first started, our work was marked via paper and hand written notes, about half way through the course it was decided that this should all be done online via our E portfolio. The E portfolio is what is used in my current Level 3 apprenticeship. There is a lot of group work in the Level 2. I got a lot of support from my tutor and I know that they would have given me extra if I needed or asked for it. I also had a three-way meeting with my tutor and Line Manager every six weeks to catch up on how I was doing both work and apprenticeship wise.
Once I had completed my Level 2 I knew I wanted to continue on to do Level 3. I moved across to Children’s services in the Directors PA Team to complete this. My team is made up of 10 people that are all PA’s for the Director, Assistant Director and County Managers in Children’s Services. I am PA to Tracey Sanders who is the County Education Manager for Inclusion. Being a PA is not something that I would have thought I’d be doing but I am enjoying working with Tracey. I do a range of admin work for her and the rest of my team. This can be from analysing data to minuting meetings. It is a very fast paced environment, especially the work I do with Tracey and there is a very short turn around as the work will concern Children’s education.
The difference I noticed straight away was that Level 3 requires a lot more detailed and in depth work. I still had to reach a high standard at Level 2, but I needed to make sure I expanded further on this at Level 3. Level 2 was a more general overview of administrative work. Whereas Level 3 is not only about admin work but also an aspect of team management and analysing data. I also noticed that it is a lot more of independent research at Level 3. Like Level 2, I am out of the office for one day a week. However, this only continues for the first six months. After this I will only have one day a month out of the office. This means that I will have to do a lot of my own research in my own time. This could be quite daunting, as I still have to manage a full time job alongside this. The support from my tutor is still there and instead of doing a three-way meeting every six weeks, this is now eight weeks at Level 3.
Overall I would say there is definitely a noticeable difference between Level 2 and Level 3. I think the Level 2 sets you up nicely to transition into a Level 3 apprenticeship and into a higher level working environment.