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National Apprenticeship Week 2022 Case Study – Howard Stamp

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (7-13 Feb 2022) we sat down with WAES Assistant Principal for Business Support Services, Howard Stamp. At 18 Howard decided that he wanted to continue learning but was also ready to begin his career, so decided to do an apprenticeship.

Since then Howard has completed four apprenticeships, and has now achieved his Level 6 award which is equivalent to degree level. This learning has allowed him to rapidly progress through his career, gaining Chartered Manager status and now managing all of the business support services here at WAES.

Read on to hear Howard’s apprenticeship journey, in his own words.

Please could you introduce yourself and tell us your name, your current role, and a bit about what your current role involves?

I’m Howard Stamp. I’m the Assistant Principal for Business Support Services here at Westminster Adult Education Service. So my role is to look after, lead and manage all aspects of the business support that goes into the day-to-day running of the service, so that includes roles such as the IT, the marketing, the exams functions, our management information systems, our funding, and all various other aspects of non-curriculum, including sort of learner experience, and learner development, to make sure that everything that we do in business support offers the best learner experience and the best opportunities for learners to support the curriculum and to support their development. It’s a role that I’ve now been in for 12 months having progressed from a previous large further education college.

Can you tell us a bit about what apprenticeship you completed and when you did this?

So I’ve actually undertaken four apprenticeships in the last 10 years, so I first undertook an apprenticeship when I left sixth form, so I undertook my A Levels and I went to do a business admin apprenticeship in, I think, at Level 3 to start with. So Level 3 Business Administration and it was actually with the NHS, so it was very much an office-based role and I was learning on the job, all different aspects of business administration and customer service.

Then from that, I was able to complete the apprenticeship and secure permanent employment with the NHS, the team that I was in, to then go on to another business administration apprenticeship at a higher level. Having completed that one with a different range of tasks, I then undertook a Level 5 apprenticeship in Leadership and Management which is what allowed me to progress into a more middle-management role.

I then moved into education and at that point in a management role I was in a role that allowed me to undertake a higher-level apprenticeship at degree level, so I undertook a Level 6 apprenticeship in Leadership and Management which also allowed me to gain Chartered Manager status alongside doing my degree, whilst working in a management role at the college.

Why did you decide that an apprenticeship was the right path for you?

I decided that an apprenticeship was the right path for me, originally, because I studied my A Levels at sixth form and I was a little bit lost on what to do next: do you go to university, do you go into work, what’s the next option? I knew that I didn’t want to stop study, and it was important to keep doing more and kind of develop myself, but I knew that university wasn’t possibly quite the right option for me at the time – I wasn’t sure what subject I would study, what university I would go to, and just if it was the right fit for me at that time. So I decided to look for apprenticeship opportunities, much to the surprise of most people having done A Levels, but I felt that that was the right opportunity for me to go into work. I was very keen to get working, earn my own money, but also keep learning at the same time, and that’s why an apprenticeship appealed to me when I left school.

How did you find the balance of learning whilst working? Was it enjoyable overall?

I did find that there was a balance between working and learning, and I did enjoy it. Quite often it was a day off the job, where you would go to your training provider and undertake, kind of, skills and knowledge around the programme that you were studying, so business admin originally for me. But also they would come in and see you in your workplace, and the concept of being an apprentice allowed me to do some work-shadowing and work out of my usual role and get wider experience, whereas often that doesn’t happen all the time as much as you would like in your day-to-day roles, but the experience of being an apprentice allowed me to learn on the job and off the job.

You did have to commit some of your own time – not all learning and studying can be done in work time so it is important to be prepared to have to work a little bit in your own hours – but also my employers have always been supportive if I need some time within work to complete things or undertake some further experience, they’re happy to support.

Did you get everything out of your apprenticeship that you’d hoped you would? Has it helped you accomplish your career goals?

I think I got everything from the apprenticeship that I wanted to originally. It was definitely, it ticked all the boxes of me going into work, and learning, and earning whilst I was learning, so from that respect, for me it ticked the boxes. It allowed me to get my foot in the door, and allowed me to then progress, so I would say, yes, the apprenticeship definitely helped me get towards my career goals, and it has allowed me to then progress further. Subsequent apprenticeships within my role and within permanent employment, have been a fantastic opportunity to do more career development and then gain further progression and undertake more responsibility each time.

What would you advise to someone considering doing an apprenticeship, in particular an adult, as lots of people assume apprenticeships are just for younger people?

My advice to anyone looking for an apprenticeship is not to be afraid, not to be put off that often it is for younger people. So I took my first apprenticeship when I was in my teens and so I was surrounded by younger people, but then further apprenticeships at higher levels, you quickly realise there’s a mix, a very big mix, of ages and experience undertaking the study with you, which is also a really nice learning environment because you get such a wealth of experience from people, the different jobs that they are in, and so when you go on that day a week to study it brings together different experiences, knowledge, and general networking which is a really good opportunity.

So I’d say any adult looking to do an apprenticeship, don’t be put off by age, don’t be put off by the thought that you are an apprentice – it’s a good opportunity for anyone at any age to either progress their career or change and step into a new direction.

And finally why is National Apprenticeship Week important?

I think National Apprenticeship Week is really important to raise the awareness of apprenticeships. I think there is still a little bit of worry for adults that it is for younger people at younger levels and particularly targeted towards trades, and I think, now, National Apprenticeship Week helps raise the profile of apprenticeships in all different industries and sectors, across all different ages, and that it’s not just for 16-year-olds leaving school looking for trades, but actually it can be adults of any age looking to change career and develop themselves more in their progression.

Click here to find out more about Apprenticeships at WAES.