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Pathway to Success: Progressing Career with Apprenticeships

We recently caught up with Level 4 Business Administration Apprentice and Executive Officer Georgia Birch, who told us how studying an apprenticeship alongside her role supports career progression.

Inspired by National Apprenticeship Week 2023

When I tell people I work at the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), one of the first questions I get asked is, what is that? In short, the VOA Is an executive agency of HMRC, providing valuations that support Council Tax, business rates and housing benefit.

I’ve worked at the VOA for over seven years undertaking various roles. It was around the time of National Apprenticeship Week 2023 when I’d spotted a feature on the intranet about apprenticeships. The article gave me a good impression of staff that were doing apprenticeships and, detailed how they were able to progress in their career.

I’d already been thinking about my own career progression, so I approached my line manager about studying an apprenticeship and she fully supported me.

University wasn’t for me

I left school at 18 with good A levels and started University. After a few months and careful consideration, I decided University just wasn’t for me. I started employment and over the years I’ve worked for a cosmetics company, a solicitors practice and in 2016 I joined the VOA as an Administrative Assistant before progressing to be an Executive Officer in 2018. My role is to provide assistance to specialist surveyors. I also support operational delivery for the Swansea Office.

Learning is a lifelong process

As I only had my A Levels, I still wanted to study a higher-level qualification. I researched various qualifications to find something suitable before settling on the Level 4 Business Administration apprenticeship with Educ8 Training.

The great thing about the apprenticeship is that it can be studied alongside my job and whether I am working here at the VOA or elsewhere, the qualification is transferable. Studying is a stepping stone for me to keep moving and progressing; it is a lifelong process.

Starting the apprenticeship

I started the apprenticeship in April 2023. It was a daunting thought returning to learning in my early thirties. You can feel anxious having to go back into something you haven’t done for a decade especially as a ‘mature learner’.

I needn’t have worried as both my Trainer Coaches Anna Dix and Caroline Gulsen have been brilliant!

I have monthly reviews which are an opportunity to forward plan for the following month but also to catch-up and discuss how I am feeling and if there is any change in circumstances which I may need support with. Anna writes up all the progress I have undertaken from the previous month and everything is very structured which I like.

Assessment methods are varied and can include: direct observations, discussions, Q&A’s and uploading product evidence. There is a good variety.  

In between my monthly sessions I have the option to send over a draft of my work and ask for feedback. Both my Trainer Coaches have been great at responding and providing feedback. It’s good to know that I feel supported and there is the opportunity to speak outside of the monthly catch-up if needs be.

A good work life balance

I’m now at the halfway point with my apprenticeship and looking forward to the future and my next steps. The apprenticeship offers a good balance between your working life and your personal life. It only takes up a proportion of your time and not all your time. My employer allows me to take every Friday as study leave which is really helpful.  I’ve enjoyed the reintroduction to learning and, knowing I’m working towards the progression of my career.

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