This week is National Apprenticeship Week and as DIO’s Graduate and Apprenticeship Lead, I’d like to share the work I’ve done to support our apprentices in navigating through the covid-19 pandemic.
But first I’d like to tell you a little bit about my role. I’ve been working on apprenticeships for over 20 years both in the public and private sector. I mainly look at recruiting apprentices to ensure that DIO has the talented workforce we need to deliver infrastructure projects, estate management and other services to enable the Armed Forces to live, work and train in the UK and overseas.
We currently have 72 apprentices working across the organisation in specialist areas including estate surveying, project management and communications. Our apprentices come from a wide range of different backgrounds and age groups. There’s a common myth that apprenticeships are just for 16 to 19-year olds, but that’s not true – they are for anyone who wants to increase their skills, start a career in defence or change occupations. At the end, our apprentices gain a nationally-recognised qualification and we encourage them to apply for permanent posts at DIO.
How we’ve navigated through COVID-19
Like most organisations, we’ve had to adapt and respond quickly to ensure that our apprentices are fully supported and engaged with their learning throughout COVID-19.
It’s been a challenging time for our apprentices and observing training in person has not been possible due to Covid-19 restrictions, but that hasn’t prevented us from supporting our apprentices. We have an online forum where apprentices come together on a regular basis to share knowledge and good practice. We also hold virtual workshops to help line managers support their apprentices in ensuring they gain the skills and experience they need to successfully complete their qualification.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we’ve kept our apprentices engaged through their online learning and worked with various online training providers to ensure they keep on track. For me, recruiting during the pandemic has been challenging as we’ve had to adapt to hold virtual interviews, but through this we’ve managed to successfully recruit nine more apprentices.
Celebrating our apprentices
To celebrate our apprentices, during lockdown we held a virtual Apprentice of the Year 2020 Awards.
Martin Robson, Assistant Estate Surveyor on the Commercial Property Pathway Apprenticeship won the award. Here’s what he had to say:
“ I’m extremely honored to have been awarded the DIO Apprentice of the Year Award and it was really exciting to be invited to the virtual awards ceremony which was attended by many inspirational colleagues across the business.
“ Throughout my apprenticeship, I’ve worked on project management, directed and advised on maintenance and built strong relationships with landlords and tenants. Knowing that the work supports defence has enhanced my job satisfaction.
“ I quickly found that a mix of practical property management projects, study time and assignment preparation provided a dynamic and interesting working environment which greatly assisted in putting the theory of study into practice.”
The benefits of DIO apprenticeships
Our apprentices are continuing to benefit from their apprenticeships while learning and earning. They also get to work on some exciting defence projects, visit military sites (in normal circumstances) and collaborate with other defence organisations such as the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force to support the Armed Forces.
A lot of our apprentices also progress to the next level in their apprenticeship and we already have some completing senior leadership apprenticeships in various professions. If you’re an advocate of life-long learning you will know that it is a constant process of developing your skills, knowledge and experiences, which is the essence of an apprenticeship.
Recruiting apprentices has helped to fill skill gaps across several teams across the organisation which are needed to help in the day-to-day running of the business. Apprentices are also extremely motivated, bring fresh ideas to projects and help to increase productivity. Our apprenticeships are designed to develop skills to meet the future needs of the organisation.