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Ask an Apprentice 2024 – Joanne and Darren tell their story

National Apprenticeship Week 2024 is a chance to celebrate the achievements of apprentices and the positive impact they make.

We caught up with Joanne and Darren to ask about their experiences of being an apprentice at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and find out what their career plans for the future are.

What is your current role at the NHSBSA?

Joanne – I’m a Principal Business Analyst within the Portfolio Management Directorate.

Darren – I’m currently an Information Security Specialist.

Which Apprenticeship are you studying and what does this involve?

Darren - I’m currently studying the ‘Cyber Security Technical Professional’ Degree Apprenticeship, which goes through cyber security topics in different subject matters like software development, server administration, network security and lots more.

It’s an apprenticeship with an integrated degree and is a Level 4,5,6 apprenticeship with a BSc degree and apprenticeship qualification at the end.

Joanne – I’m studying a Level 6 Improvement Leader. This is a degree-level programme to build leadership capability in continuous improvement.  It incorporates principles, methods, and tools from key continuous improvement disciplines. So, including Lean, Six Sigma and Operational Excellence, team working, and team leadership. 

Why did you decide to study for an Apprenticeship?

Darren – I’ve completed two apprenticeships before this one. One of which started in the NHSBSA and was my introduction to the career path I’m on.

Joanne - I’m passionate about continuing to learn and develop myself.

I was looking for the next thing to build out from my current skillset and capabilities and was attracted to the balance that being able to study within working hours would offer me. 

I was torn between whether to pursue the NHSBSA Coaching and Mentoring programme or the apprenticeship.  When I looked more into both, I felt that the apprenticeship better fitted with my goals for developing and influencing others whilst also expanding my Business Analyst skillset.

How did you get into your current role?

Darren - I got into my current role through a level 4 apprenticeship. I joined with minimal knowledge of the industry, or the job skills required and was able to learn what I needed on the job, giving me an expertise in the field.

What has been your proudest achievement in your apprenticeship so far?

Joanne – It was being chosen to lead from a Business Analyst perspective on a new strategic Efficiencies Transformation Programme. We’ll be delivering the transformational changes needed to work more efficiently across all business areas and focus our capabilities on changes that will be of most benefit to our organisation and the wider health and care system. 

What are your plans for the future?

Joanne – I want to progress the Efficiencies Transformation Programme and strengthen the resilience of the Business Analyst Community by working with them to develop their current and new capabilities.

Darren – I’m going to continue developing my knowledge through further courses and progress in my career using the knowledge I have gained.

What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship?

Darren - My advice would be to consider the benefits of working and gaining experience through doing, rather than just learning academically. I learn by actively practicing in a field and so the apprenticeship route is perfect for this. It reaps the benefits of both academic and practical experiences.

Joanne – I’d say to choose the subject area carefully, make sure it’s linked to your job role and something which you are passionate about. Take time to fully understand the level of commitment needed to make sure it fits in with your life plans.

Find out more about apprenticeship opportunities and discover your next role.