Our MPower Programme has several programmes however our most popular is the Level 6 Project Manager Degree Apprenticeship in Project Management.
Charles Wilman talks to HR Manager Julia Bellak and some of our MIGSO-PCUBED apprentices Jamie May, Harry Seear, and Charles Rahbani about their experiences on the programme. This episode was originally recorded during and in support of National Apprenticeship Week 2022.
Charles Wilman: Hello and a very warm welcome from us here at MIGSO-PCUBED, we hope we find you safe and well. I’m Charles Wilman, a consultant here at MP and I’m delighted to bring you our latest podcast today, on the topic of National Apprenticeship Week.
National Apprenticeship Week runs from 7th to the 13th of February this year, as a week-long celebration of all things Apprenticeships. We, at MP thought to take this opportunity to speak to some of our people who have been part of our Apprenticeship scheme and share their experiences with us. We’ll be exploring what MP’s Apprenticeship scheme is, why our scheme appeals to applicants, shared experiences of being a student as well as working for MP, and how learnings on the job can be practically applied.
I’m very pleased to welcome four of my esteemed colleagues today to talk about this topic, something which is very important to us. Julia Bellak is our resident HR Manager and heavily involved with our “MPower” Apprenticeship Programme. Hello Julia.
Julia Bellak: Hi Charles.
Charles Wilman: I’m also joined by three of our consultants currently completing a Level 6 project management apprenticeship, Harry Seear and Jamie May, are both project managers working with our public sector clients, hello Harry.
Harry Seear: Hello Charles.
Charles Wilman: And hello Jamie.
Jamie May: Hello there.
Charles Wilman: And last but not least we are joined by Charles Rahbani who is currently working within our Energy sector.
Charles Wilman: Hello Charles
Charles Rahbani: Hi Charles.
Charles Wilman: So, without further ado, time for some conversation. If I come to you first Julia, it would be great to hear more about our apprenticeship programme at MP.
Julia Bellak: Thanks Charles. We established our apprenticeship programme “MPower” at the back end of 2020. Our first apprentices joined us at the beginning of January 2021. So, we are about 1 year in at this point.
As a business, MP felt very strongly that an apprenticeship programme was the right way for us to go. Not only to grow talent and develop our workforce, but also to get an opportunity to support people to reach their full potential and further their careers.
As you know, the world is changing and previously the expectation might have been that you attended formal learning before joining the workforce. The traditional route isn’t for everyone, and “MPower” provides apprentices with an alternative route to achieve a degree and gain work experience. Whether you are joining MPower as a new starter fresh out of school or if you are an existing employee that would like upskilling.
Charles Wilman: Ok, what a great scheme to start up.
Julia Bellak: Yeah, so we run a couple of different programmes but our most popular one is definitely our Level 6 Project Manager Degree Apprenticeship. The programme is 4 years long, and at the end of it our apprentices achieve a Bachelor’s degree in Project Management from Cumbria University. During the 4 years, the apprentices spend time in formal learning at Cumbria University and the remainder of their time is spent in paid work. So working alongside and learning from project management experts here at MP.
So, not only does the apprenticeship provide the apprentice with paid tuition and salary from day one but it also gives the apprentices an opportunity to apply the formal learning in real world context meanwhile being supported by both the university and obviously everyone here at MP. They get exposure to different exciting projects and they have continuous regular support from their internal work coach. The coach support with personal progress and skills development.
And at the end of the apprenticeship the apprentice hopefully joins us as a permanent employee!
Charles Wilman: Fantastic. Thank you Julia for that introduction, that’s super interesting. So now I would like to chat with some of our actual Apprentices to get a feel for what it’s like to be a student at Cumbria and indeed be an apprentice at MP. So Harry it I come to you first.
Harry Seear: Well, there’s a range of feelings really. It’s very fun being a student, its intriguing, and at times it can be quite busy. There’s lots to do despite it being a virtual environment. I also feel quite welcomed really being part of a university that offers the content that they do. There’s lots involved within the university so there’s frequent check-ins and I feel quite valued. And I’m also quite motivated to meet people in person and at being at my university and some of the classmates I work with.
I’ve got a great one-note system set up and I have begun to use this and this is quite beneficial to me and this is something that I will hopefully take forward in my apprenticeship journey.
Charles Wilman: Excellent, thank you Harry.
Jamie May: I’m really enjoying my role and the culture at MP. From my experience we have a lot of support including support from our coaches, mentors, and peers. I feel comfortable to ask any question I have regarding my work. My colleagues have also dedicated a lot of their time to reviewing my assignments ensuring that I do achieve a good grade.
We are also very fortunate there are so many subject matter experts within your current course modules such as a subject matter experts in planning or contract management and these individuals are our go to’s for the highest grades.
What do you think Harry?
Harry Seear: Well I think it’s fantastic really. I’m really glad on the choice that I’ve made. I considered university obviously as well as an apprenticeship but I’m definitely glad that I chose the degree apprenticeship route which also involves the aspect of university.
I’ve also realised that MP really care about its employees and therefore the growth on a personally level and on a company level. And I don’t have any plans to change or move. I’m also wondering what the future holds and this is something I’m hoping to think about as I go forward.
I’m interested to know what you think about it Charles.
Charles Rahbani: Yeah, thanks Harry. So initially the cost of university really deterred me from studying, but even though I understood the value of education, I’m really keep to be able to earn as well as I lean. This has been a huge relief for me and has taken the pressure off my shoulders a lot. Also applying what I am studying in a working environment definitely suits my learning style as I am practically able to apply the new skillsets and tools that I’m learning at university.
There is a lot of support from MP side, they genuinely care about my development and making sure I am on the path to becoming the best consultant I can be.
Charles Wilman: Thank you, it’s great to hear about your personal experiences both at university and at MP. Thinking of both of these environments.
Jamie May: Well well, this is definitely something that I get asked a lot and I’d like to share the analogy of the 4 Burners Theory. So, picture an oven top with four gas burners on. Each representing one of the following: so first you have Social, second you have Work, next is Health, and then you have Family.
So the Four Burners Theory says that “in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.”
So as apprentices in full time work yes, we do have to sacrifice some social time. It might be on a lower temperature at some points. But having 20% job time to focus on our studies is a massive benefit to the apprenticeship scheme and my social life.
Committing to all four burners would lead to complete burn out. As apprentice a crucial factor is to plan in your study periods and arrange dates with family and friends that does not affect your studies. Always taking time for your personal health, whether that is a walk a day or some hot yoga which I have recently becoming a fan of for maximum relaxation.
Charles Wilman: That’s a fantastic analogy, thanks Jamie. Sticking with this balance of work and university theme;
Harry Seear: So, I’ve got three main ways in which I am doing this at the moment. The first is around really presenting to my engagement team. So, I bring back topics of interest, themes that are raised in discussions, or just general university content that I want to share. And I basically present for 10-15 minutes to my engagement team, and they provide feedback on my presenting and ask any questions that they have around the topic. This encourages me to really understand the topic that I’m talking about.
The second is just generally asking questions. Any questions that are formulated after university, or questions surrounding MP, and how this relates to MP, is something that I often refer and go to my engagement team to find out about.
The third is around acronyms. So I’ve produced a glossary of project management acronyms that I have picked up through my engagement and through university and this is hopefully being rolled out and the future cohorts will use this and this will hopefully benefit a lot of people.
Now these are just a few ways but I’m hoping to improve and find more opportunities to bring this back.
I’m interested in knowing how this works for you Charles within the energy sector?
Charles Rahbani: Yeah thanks Harry, I definitely use that glossary as well when I’m working. For me, using case studies within MP during my assignments definitely helps me understand the previous work that we’ve done and also applying the knowledge that I’ve learnt into tactical delivery in my current engagement. My client is currently up in Cumbria, a short and sweet 7 hour journey, so during that time I’m able to bounce ideas off my wider team about the various methodologies and frameworks that I leant, both at university and within my client environment.
Charles Wilman: Thank you both. Well, I’m sold on the benefits of apprenticeships.
Jamie May: Well as a consultant at MP for the past two years, I was aware that an apprenticeship would help me become more proficient in my current role. Not only that, but I also had the ambition of becoming a competent Project Manager.
I gain access to tools and materials that help me dive deeper into the challenges of my clients and I am able to have a positive impact on their day to day responsibilities.
I enjoy the apprenticeship because it suits my learning style, there is no requirement to write long essays every time we have an assessment, but rather a mixture of tests, practicals, and some reports.
Charles Wilman: Thank you Jamie. Harry, one for you next. Something I think that’s relevant to all of us here at MP, and a specific challenge we’ve faced.
Harry Seear: Well, I’ve had a range of feelings really to do with the pandemic. Personally, I feel like I’m quite an active person, I love meeting people, and I love throwing myself out there, and the apprenticeship really meets those needs. But the pandemic definitely impacted this. Being stuck in my room working from home. This is obviously where I spend some of my personal time and I’ve also got to work here but it has really made me value what I have that being within the apprenticeship and outside the apprenticeship.
I also found myself becoming more productive. I’m not sure whether this was because I’m in my bedroom and I’m used to working here, or whether I was just left to myself at times and just found it easier to work in my bedroom, I’m not entirely sure. But I also did struggle to find a balance between stepping away.
I really liked getting involved with work, but I also needed to find time for my personal life, my social life, and finding this balance is something I struggled with initially, but I’ve got used to this now and I’m really enjoying what I’m doing and I’m knowing when to step away and when to take it that step further.
I’m also quite looking forward to going into the office and meeting some more of my colleagues as I’ve had a couple of opportunities already.
Charles Wilman: Great thank you Harry, appreciate you sharing your personal experience there with the pandemic and something we can all identify with in some way.
Jamie May: I’d like to say I am an absolute advocate of apprenticeships. I believe it is the best process to put your learning into practice and really challenge your understanding of a subject.
It’s a chance to earn as you learn, and that’s one of the most satisfying things about an apprenticeship. I am being paid to learn and have the opportunity to use my new knowledge in my everyday work. So, anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship, its challenging but rewarding, and with supportive colleagues and apprentices around you it makes the process all that more enjoyable.
Charles Wilman: Thank you Jamie, a very positive way to round off today’s conversation. Too all of today’s guests, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing your insight and experiences with MIGSO-PCUBED’s MPower Apprenticeship Programme. It’s great to see the importance we attach to this and the positive experiences that promotes with our people. Julia, thank you.
Julia Bellak: Thank you Charles.
Charles Wilman: Harry, thank you.
Harry Seear: Thank you Charles.
Charles Wilman: Jamie, thank you.
Jamie May: Thank you Charles.
Charles Wilman: And Charles, thank you.
Charles Rahbani: Thanks Charles.
Charles Wilman: And to our listeners, we really hope you enjoyed this instalment. If you are interested in joining our MP Apprenticeship scheme, we have intakes in April and September, across our sectors.
Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day, and stay safe.
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