Our latest cohort of apprentices have just completed their Level 3 Business Administration apprenticeship at Derbyshire Constabulary. We caught up with them to find out how their apprenticeship has prepared them for exciting futures in a broad range of roles within the police force.
Why did you choose the apprenticeship pathway?
Chloe Jennings: I thought the apprenticeship would be an amazing stepping stone to help me get into the force and I was right. I’ve applied previously for different positions, and it was quite a struggle to get in. The apprenticeship allowed me to join Derbyshire Constabulary and explore all the different roles on offer.
What was the average week like on the apprenticeship program? Were you based in different areas of the force and did you get to experience a range of different job roles?
Eleanor Robinson: When I first started my apprenticeship, I started in the Equality Department. I then moved to Contact Management, which is the 999 call centre. In that department, I was exposed to so many different areas of policing. I went out with the traffic team and I went out with the dogs and the drones.
Chloe: I was with Operational Support, so I also got to see some of the things that Eleanor saw, such as the traffic officers and the drones. It was interesting to see the two different sides of policing, the practical, on-site roles, as well as behind-the-scenes.
Ellie Eaton: I started working in the Communication and Engagement Department which handled media engagement. I dealt with a lot of force campaigns, on the more preventative side of things. That meant my day would change because of how reactive one side of it was and how proactive the other was. We also have a videography team within our department, so I got quite a lot of experience going out and handling a camera.
What does the future hold for you, now that you’ve all finished your apprenticeship?
Luke Large: During my apprenticeship, I became a special constable, which is the same as a regular police officer but you don’t get paid. It’s a voluntary role. After doing that for a few months, I decided that the next step for me, after my apprenticeship, would be to be a police officer. An opportunity opened up which allowed people with the Level 3 qualification to become an officer and I went ahead and applied. Working in a background role at the Constabulary throughout my apprenticeship definitely helped my application. It was a lot easier to become a police officer because I was already internal to the organization.
In terms of what the future looks like, after my first two years of probation, I can specialize. It’s a job where you can almost change jobs whilst not changing jobs at the same time.
Rhiannon Fowkes: I’ve now got a permanent role as a Business Support Assistant within the department where I first started my apprenticeship with. As it was such an amazing team, I knew that was the team that I wanted to be in. I did have a few other interviews but, for me, I’m happy where I am for a few years. I might follow in the same footsteps as Luke and become an officer.
Ellie: I’m doing an MVQ in Social Media Production and focusing more on the videography and photography side of things. For my final apprenticeship project, I did a campaign focused on the prevention of grooming children into County Lines and I used social media as the main tool for that. My department also works with youth engagement within our area, so I was able to reach out to all schools across Derbyshire and pop through a survey of what young people know about County Lines, and that’s been since passed on to more regional intelligence teams and County Lines prevention team.
Alice Barlow: I’ve secured a position as a Business Administrator in the Learning & Development department. Our department deals with the officers’ training and this is where Luke is at, at the minute. We have lots of different courses going on, including Luke’s uplift pathway, where you don’t need a degree to join the force and it’s mostly for internal staff. It’s been a very busy few months.
How did you find the management of the off-the-job training alongside your working week?
Luke: It wasn’t always easy balancing the workload from our employer, as well as our portfolio pieces. However, we all got there in the end. In fact, we all finished the course early with great support from everyone around us. I know I had to put in a few extra hours at the office to get it done to the standard that I wanted it to, but that taught me such a useful skill in workload management. I’ll definitely carry that forward onto managing my caseloads in the future.
What other transferable skills have you gained from the apprenticeship program?
Chloe: I’d say communication skills. There are so many people that work within the force. Even though you work within a specific department, you always have to liaise with many different people, including officers and staff from other departments.
Rhiannon: My communication skills have definitely improved throughout the apprenticeship and my problem-solving skills. One of my roles was manning the reception desk at HQ. There were quite a few instances where members of the public were frustrated and being on reception taught me how to deal with these tricky situations in a professional manner. On reception, you are the first face people see and the one representing the force. There have been quite a few incidents where I had to go above and beyond to find alternative ways to deal with a situation. You have to try again and again to find a solution to whatever problem is in front of you and make sure the person you’re talking to leaves happy.
What was the support like from college, as well as the support from your employer?
Ellie: I really benefited from the structure of the apprenticeship. We had 3 hours of tutoring once a month at a group face-to-face workshop and then it was mostly independent work. I joined the course straight after finishing my GCSEs and I wanted to gain a bit more independence when it came to education, so that was perfect for me.
Whilst you can always make mistakes and ask for help, working through a lot of things independently really built my confidence. My employer was also really good at supporting me. They accepted that, although I was working for them, a portion of the apprenticeship needed to be set aside for college work.
Luke: Even though we came to do a job for an organization, everyone was always very understanding and helpful. Whenever I needed a bit of extra help someone was always very willing to give me a hand to improve my work.
Eleanor: As someone who, self-confessed, needed a little bit more support, I know that whenever I contacted college there was always support there. There were extra workshops provided for me, both in person and on Teams and there was a lot of support from my tutor Ally (Alison Patterson). She always found ways to support me, and we sorted issues out together.
HR Development Manager, Kirsty Norman, who selects the cohort of apprentices for Derbyshire Constabulary has also sung the praises of Lecturer Alison Patterson. She told us:
“Ally’s teaching is facilitative, experiential, motivating and fun and the Mentoring Programme she delivers is informative, thought-provoking and at times touches the emotions. Without doubt, her intention and destination is to inspire our apprentices to be the very best they can be, whilst successfully supporting them from education into full time careers. With the Mentoring Training now a firm fixture of our annual programme, all the pieces of our tripartite jigsaw have now come together. This workshop is a ‘must-have’ for all employers who are serious about developing and growing their apprentices to support their succession plan for the future. Our Apprentices, Line Managers and the Constabulary, as a whole, are lucky to have Learning Unlimited working with us as part of our Young People Strategy”
Was there anything that surprised you about the apprenticeship?
Rhiannon: I didn’t realise that there was going to be all eleven of us together. I thought it was just going to be me on my own. Our little group turned out to be such a positive. It was nice to be able to have other people also going through the same thing as me. If we ever needed a bit of support with work, or just wanted to ask a question, we had each other. Having the monthly meetings face-to-face with everyone and seeing how they were feeling, it let me know that I wasn’t alone and I knew I had the support of other people around me.
Luke: When you come to work for the police you think it’s going to be a very scary and intense environment. You think everyone’s going to be quite stern, but it’s probably one of the friendliest places I’ve ever worked.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone who is looking into this sort of apprenticeship route?
ALL: Go for it!
Luke: Everything I worried about over the past year, I now look back and think, why did I ever worry about it? You’re going to be okay. Just do your work and get your head down and you’ll be fine.
Chloe: Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.
Ellie: I think also enjoy being naïve sometimes. I remember starting my apprenticeship and thinking I was in this environment where everyone knows everything, or I thought everyone knew everything. I came straight from school and thought I had no idea what I was doing but you need to trust that by the end of the apprenticeship you’ll have such a huge knowledge of what you didn’t even know you were missing. I’d say enjoy that early stage a bit more, rather than stressing about it.
Carrera Chandler, who completed the program alongside the other apprentices, has secured a position as Disclosure Assistant in Derbyshire Constabulary’s Information Management Department. A huge congratulation also to Georgia Waldrum and Chloe Waller. They started the Level 3 program but left to become officers early in the year. Callum Jones was also given a role in IT, Ben Patterson was given a role in Finance and Alex Clifton has also secured a permanent role in Derbyshire Constabulary’s IS department.