Sue Morris

  1. Which Apprenticeship based training have you completed? Which department did you do this in?
    I completed the HR Consultant/Partner Level 5 apprenticeship including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Level 5 certificate in Human Resources Management. I am part of the Recruitment team in central Human Resources, specialising in recruitment to the University’s most senior academic professorships and administrative roles.
     
  2. Why did you choose to do Apprenticeship-based training?
    I had a career change into HR in 2017, having spent most of my working life in undergraduate admissions and outreach for one of the colleges. I was attracted by the opportunity not just to learn new knowledge and skills but to understand how to apply these to my role.
     
  3. What qualifications did you have before applying for your Apprenticeship course?
    I obtained my undergraduate Mathematics degree from Cambridge, and then completed a post-graduate teaching qualification at the University of Leeds to teach Maths and French in secondary schools.
     
  4. How did you find out about your Apprenticeship?
    I was asked to help out with the administration around the launch of the Work Learn Develop programme which made apprenticeship training available to existing University staff. The HR apprenticeships standards were just being developed at the time and it seemed natural that I should take advantage of the opportunity.
     
  5. What have you gained from your Apprenticeship – skills, experience etc.?
    Recruitment is quite a specialised function, so it was really good to get to explore different areas of HR such as employee engagement, employment law, pay and reward. During the classroom-based elements of the course I got to write assignments looking at the bigger picture in an organisational and commercial context, which I think is really important to see beyond the University ‘bubble’.

    For me, perhaps the biggest benefit of the apprenticeship was meeting people on the course from different departments across the University to develop a new professional network. I also found that joining the CIPD and attending local branch events and student conferences gave me access to a wealth of professional development material.
     

  6. What has been your proudest moment so far from doing your Apprenticeship?
    As part of the apprenticeship I had to complete a 10-week consultative project to address a business need. Presenting the findings of that consultation via a report to the Registrar’s Senior Leadership Team gave a real sense of achievement that I was contributing to the University’s strategic planning for recruitment and staff development. 
     
  7. What are you doing now?
    When I started my apprenticeship, I was in a more junior administrative role within the Senior Appointments recruitment team, but I was promoted in January 2020 to a new role as Recruitment Partner. Covid-19 restrictions have changed our team’s activities over the past year as much of our recruitment was put on hold. Every cloud has a silver lining though! I have had the opportunity to broaden my experience by servicing one of the central panels reviewing cases under the Recruitment Protocol, and providing redeployment support through the new Priority Candidate Support Scheme.
     
  8. How has your Apprenticeship helped you to achieve this?
    The apprenticeship was really focused on making the progression from operational to strategic activities, and learning how to positively influence colleagues, managers and the organisation as a whole by providing expert advice. As part of my on-the-job training I was able to observe meetings of electoral boards (selection committees for senior academic professorships), so when we had some changes in the team I was ideally placed to step up into the more senior role and to run specific recruitments rather than just administering them. I’ve really enjoyed developing the partnering approach to improve the service we provide to the hiring departments, working closely with the electoral board chairs, Heads of Departments and our HR colleagues in the academic divisions.  
     
  9. What advice would you give someone who might be thinking about Apprenticeship-based training to progress their career?
    I’m living proof that you are never too old to do an apprenticeship! Of course it was hard work returning to formal study after 20 plus years and juggling work and family life, but very rewarding too. The apprenticeship model means that the training is tailored to what you actually do day-to-day and it was great to invest time in my professional and personal development. I would say that you should take every opportunity to broaden your experience on the fringes of your current role, which might open doors for your next career move. I think professional curiosity is one of the most important attributes you can have. Get out there, set up shadowing activities, try something new and ask as many questions as you can!
     
  10. What advice would you give an manager who is considering Apprenticeship-based training for their employee?
    One of the take-home messages from the HR course was that an engaged employee is much more likely to be a happy and productive one. My line manager changed during the second half of my apprenticeship, but I was so lucky that both my previous and current manager really invested time and energy in my apprenticeship training. If you are able to provide a springboard for employee development by offering an apprenticeship, you and your whole team and department will reap the rewards many times over. I’m a great advocate of coaching and mentoring in the workplace, and I think that the line manager and other team members will naturally develop their supervisory and inter-personal skills by having an apprentice in the team.

    I think apprenticeships can work equally well for new entrants or for existing staff. You just need to be willing to commit to supporting the apprentice to grow in the role, whether they are starting pretty much from scratch or if they are already established but looking to develop new skills. Tap into their enthusiasm, and who knows where it might lead!

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