After deciding that university wasn’t the path for her, Alicia joined Cubik in October 2020 to embark on a Project Management Apprenticeship. Just two years later, Alicia is now a fully qualified PM and has established herself as an accomplished and valuable member of Cubik’s project management team.
Alicia talks about what motivated her decision to do an apprenticeship and the skills that she has learned along the way.
- Why did you want to do an apprenticeship?
I knew that I didn’t want to go to university. I had always wanted to do an apprenticeship where I could get a qualification whilst getting hands on, real-life experience.
- What course did you study?
I studied the Level 4 Associate Project Management course with the Academy for Project Management (Academy 4 PM) and Wiltshire College. It was a two-year course, which I completed in just under two years.
- What was the course format?
The course was made up of online learning and six in-person workshops, which I attended at Wiltshire College. Throughout the course you create a portfolio of evidence that highlights the knowledge, skills and behaviours involved in project management. You choose 15 (out of 17) topics that you want to focus on and gather evidence to document your practical experience in each of those areas, using examples from real life projects.To help balance my college course with my day job, I worked in the office four days a week and from home one day a week where I focussed on completing the course syllabus and my portfolio. I also met with my college mentor and line manager every five to six weeks to sense check my progress and discuss what the next steps were.
- How was the course assessed?
I sat two exams. The first was the Project Management Qualification (PMQ) exam which is a knowledge based, written exam. It lasted 3 hours 15 minutes, and I had to answer 10 questions out of 15. Each correct answer was worth a maximum of 50 marks, and I needed a minimum of 55% overall to pass the exam which I achieved.I then focused on completing my portfolio of evidence, which is used to assess the final exam called the End Point Assessment (EPA). The EPA consists of a 15-minute presentation where I talked about 5 of the topics that I documented in my portfolio, in front of two examiners. I then had a ‘professional discussion’ with the examiners where they asked me questions on the remaining 10 topics from my portfolio. I had to wait two days to receive my results, and I achieved a Pass.
- Now that you have completed the course, what does your new qualification enable you to do?
As a Level 4 Associate Project Manager, I have been promoted from Project Administration Apprentice to Junior Project Manager at Cubik Innovation. My new qualification means that I am officially a qualified PM.
- What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
The biggest benefit is being able to achieve a qualification whilst gaining experience in a role that you hope to move into. Being able to work with an experienced team whilst studying really helps too, as you are surrounded by peers who are skilled and knowledgeable in their fields and are rooting for you to succeed. I also really enjoying being able to split my time between work, online learning, and college.
- What would you say to anyone who is considering doing an apprenticeship?
Don’t hesitate! By combining learning with practical experience, I have gained so many new ‘skills for life’ including communication, time management and leadership. I have also gained so much more confidence in my own abilities which I have taken with me into my new role.
Speaking about why apprenticeships work so well, Paul Mullen (Managing Director) said:
“There is a huge shortage of workers in the UK, and this is especially noticeable in engineering. An apprenticeship is a great way to continue education whilst working and earning. There is a vast range of apprenticeships from NVQ’s through HNC’s, through to degree apprenticeships where you can gain a full degree qualification whilst gaining practical experience.
At Cubik, we see apprenticeships as a great route to employment. We pride ourselves on providing a great platform for learning and support our apprentices through their training programs.
Apprentices benefit the business too. Having a younger person in the team brings a fresh thought process, fresh ideas. Also, apprentices tend to stay in a business longer before moving on which generates business and staff stability.”
For more information about apprenticeships, or to find one that suits you, visit gov.uk