Interview: Emilia Ordzieniewicz from Greater London Authority tells us how she embedded apprentices into the organisation...
How did your relationship with Outsource develop?
I’ve been working with Outsource on planning and running the schemes since 2015. We’re at the stage where we’re now recruiting for the next year’s intake in 2017. It’s a very close relationship and I’ve been asked to provide a testimony to the Cabinet Office on behalf of Outsource. I was singing their praises and we have a very good relationship to achieve our goals together.
Explain why you chose to employ apprentices?
We chose to employ apprentices because it was part of the previous mayor’s commitment to deliver across groups in London. This was the key driver as well as the recognition that apprenticeships do to help businesses grow. They also have the responsibility to give to the community which is the underlying theme for our placements.
What motivated your organisation to do so?
Other motivators for the GLA are creating opportunities for young people to grow and develop. The managers develop as managers and often we have people who have never line managed others managing apprentices, it may be called a Management Development Programme for our managers.
How have you embedded apprentices into the organisation?
There is not a team at the GLA who has not had an apprentice or worked closely with an apprentice. The scheme is well embedded in the GLA. Year on year we start a bidding process and every year we have more bids than we can meet from the corporate budget. There’s an appetite for apprentices and our teams are very keen to have an apprentice to work with them. One of the senior managers said: “I love apprentices they are some of the best dressed people in the GLA.”
What are the benefits to your business of having apprentices, what impact have they had?
The GLA are not a commercial organisation in terms the benefits of having apprentices. One of the main things is that they bring fresh ideas to the table. Having an apprentice in a team can be a very refreshing experience. One of the benefits is we as an organisation can showcase best practice through outreach and speaking at events about apprenticeships. There are 21 apprentices still employed at the GLA. We say “we’ll work with you to prepare them to be job ready and find a job at the end of the placement.” The impact is the experience of a working and professional environment. Those who stay on are a testament to their performance during their placement. Their managers create a role to have them stay on for longer. It’s a mutual relationship.
Describe the organisation’s working partnership with Outsource Training and Development with regards to roles and responsibilities and how this strengthens the programme?
Outsource provide holistic support and we started planning in summer with the help of Outsource to promote and advertise the opportunities at the GLA. Outsource have also helped us with the screening and shortlisting of candidates for the roles.They ran the Assessment Centre and sat on interview panels, they worked with us through the whole process. The telephone interviews were carried out by Outsource. Weekly conference calls helped a lot. We’re at the training planning stage for the next year’s cohort with Trish and Amma. It’s also about managers being clued up and brought up to speed. Links and partnership support is available to help us deliver this great scheme. We evaluate the programme every year and have further sessions with Outsource. We’re open to feedback and working together to make it better.
Describe how the programme operates and the apprentice experience. What are the highlights for the organisation and apprentice?
Apprentices said it’s great to meet real people, real people call them and meet them. Some have said, 'I’m sending CVs which ended up in black a hole'. The experience is positive human interaction on the phone and in person. Our apprentices are paid the London living wage, £18,135 and they are based in a very big organisation which helps to propel their career. We’ve extended traineeships, advanced apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships and employment. They are matched with a buddy, a former apprentice, a mentor and receive a lot of support from managers and team. The team offers management development for managers in parallel to help them bring skills up to scratch. Apprentice managers sign up to the 6-month Institute of Leadership and Management qualification we provide for first-line, middle and senior management. The apprentices appreciate having real jobs and real responsibilities. As they earn trust from the managers and teams they get bigger and meatier work which translates into great things to put on their CVs.
How successful has the apprenticeship programme been for your organisation?
I think it’s been incredibly successful we’ve several apprentices still working at the GLA some who’ve progressed enormously working in high profile challenging roles. Others move onto a qualification in Project Management for careers in this field. It’s successful because we get buy-in from the Director, it has grown since 2009 we recruited the biggest cohort to date, 17 apprentices, in 2015. We will only have 11 apprentices in 2017 because of the upheaval at GLA because budgets weren’t approved.
Are there any stats to back up the success of the programme?
Since 2009 from two apprentices, we’ve had 81 apprentices, in the GLA including the 11 in 2017, bringing the total to 92. We’re a small organisation. Managers tell me at the beginning of the programme, some teams have had a run of three or four apprentices, one says every year he can’t believe how much they develop over the year. They can see the massive gap when they get the new apprentice on board. I regularly meet with apprentices, managers and assessor every month. The first meeting with 17 of them it felt like I was back at school. I had a final meeting with them after 11 months into the experience. I wish I had a video to show them how much they’d changed. It was a professional meeting. It was mind blowing.