I chose the Civil Service Fast Track as an alternative to university once I’d completed my A-Levels. I knew the Civil Service was very versatile and would offer me a great opportunity to develop personally and professionally. The application process was very testing involving 4 online tests prior to an assessment day based on 3 different activities covering different competencies. After 5 months I found out I had been successful and started my role at the beginning of January and I enjoyed every single day of it. DWP and my district have been very supportive and made such a large transition easier for me.
The Fast Track Business Apprenticeship qualification side involves 2 separate awards, a Level 4 Diploma and a Level 4 NVQ in Business Admin. The diploma is based off 7 assignments completed over 15 months and the NVQ requires you to complete 12-15 work based units and present the evidence to an external skills coach. This runs adjacent to my role, a work coach, and any other projects or shadowing I undertake.
In order to illustrate the diverse nature of the Fast Track, I thought I’d give a sample of what 2
weeks in July have entailed for me as part of my apprenticeship process.
Monday & Tuesday 10th & 11th
Learning the Work Coach role is very important to me as it deepens my knowledge of what goes in WSD and the practices involved in it. By doing this two days a week it gives me a good understanding and allows me to develop my interpersonal skills as well as knowing how to use the systems, the correct procedures and what WSD is all about.
I had set up a meeting in Bush House (London) with the Fast Track team, within CS resourcing, in order to analyse what was good and what could be done better about the Fast Track process from application to graduation. I travelled down on Tuesday night and stayed with family in the area. This meeting was an opportunity to improve the program for existing and future apprentices. I had spent weeks before gathering feedback from my fellow apprentices to voice their opinions also.
The meeting went really well and was a great chance to discuss the Fast Track in a formal
setting. Accompanied by my line manager and district lead we contributed to support the Fast
Track in improvement from a different angle they don’t get to see from.
As part of my apprenticeship I was encouraged to seek a mentor, so I spent a day at Caxton House with my DWP mentor. Seeing the DWP main office was so enlightening, it really motivated me to want to progress. Everyone was very welcoming, my day consisted of spending some one on one time with my mentor, having a grand tour of the building and spending some time with different teams in the Finance department. My mentor shared some good practice with me on my own telekit, helping me on my digital upskills task and finish group.
I had another appointment with my second mentor who works in the National Savings and Investment (NS&I) department. I thought it was important to get a Civil Service perspective from someone outside the DWP. I had a great morning learning about the communication side of proceedings in NS&I. I had been receiving coaching sessions from my mentor to prepare for the meeting two days previous. We talked through how it went from my perspective and discussed my next strategy.
In the afternoon I returned to Bush House to aid in an exercise whereby I reviewed the soon to be published Fast Stream website. I imparted some feedback from first viewing going through the documented scheme information and application process. This was a chance to represent the Fast Track in refining a process some of us may be going through very shortly if we chose to.
Monday & Tuesday 17th and 18th
I was back in the office after a busy end to the previous week. I had lots of emails to catch up on whilst delivering my work coaching role, seeing my weekly customers face to face. Normally I spend an hour of each day updating the office twitter page for the week, putting on any upcoming events, job fairs and vacancies we have. Social media managing isn’t part of being an apprentice but it’s a project I took on to fulfil parts of my qualification.
Wednesday & Thursday 19th and 20th
These two days are spent doing numerous things; If there was any outstanding tasks from the day before that needed doing in my work coach role they needed to be completed, I had to feedback from my meeting with the Fast Track team to other apprentices that I’d interacted with and the main part of my day is spent working on my case study to present my evidence for my NVQ qualification.
I had to write a case study about two specific units that linked together, this involved a large piece of writing but then linking evidence that covers the assessment criteria. For example I did some twitter training in my office for other work coaches, this covered the assessment criteria for Unit 404-3.3 ‘Provide training and support in the use of information systems to users and stakeholders’, and the evidence I collected was signatures of the work coaches confirming that I had coached them to an appropriate level. Each unit can have 10-20 assessment criteria which need completing but can overlap.
This day is allocated to do work on my assignments for the diploma side of my qualification. Every 7-8 weeks I attend 2-day long classroom based sessions, provided by an external learning provider that should give me all knowledge and resources in order to complete the assignment based on one of the topics. There are 7 topics in total ranging from different aspects of business.
Each assignment is different and normally made up of a mix of tasks based on the topic. On this study day I was writing reports on ‘Understanding Organisations’, looks at different types of sectors and analysing the differences between them. I learn a lot from doing these assignments, especially as they are tailored for a public sector point of view.
This isn’t a typical 2 weeks for me but paints the picture of the kind of things you can expect as a Fast Track Apprentice. I am very grateful to be part of the scheme and would recommend it to anyone. The best piece of advice I could give anyone who is on the scheme it; go out there and find opportunities yourself.