Name: Rebecca Fraser
Job Title: HR Assistant, originally Modern Apprentice – Business Administration
Company: Caledonia Housing Association (www.caledoniaha.co.uk)
Caledonia Housing Association is one of Scotland’s leading providers of homes for people in housing need. They own and manage homes across Tayside, Fife, the Highlands and West Dunbartonshire. They cater for many diverse needs, offering mainstream housing, supported accommodation, sheltered and amenity housing, residential care and other specially adapted properties, including those specifically designed for wheelchair users.
What made you decide to get an apprenticeship?
When I was in school apprenticeships weren’t promoted that much (Rebecca did her apprenticeship in 2017), it was either university, college or get a job. I knew I didn’t want to go to Uni but I liked the idea of getting a qualification but also some work experience at the same time and getting paid. After seeing a job advert, I went and found out more about it.
What did getting your apprenticeship involve?
I had to apply the same way you would for a normal job at Caledonia Housing Association which involved submitting an online application, then coming in for a face-to-face interview with the Manager and someone from HR.
It was so daunting, I’d never done it before but looking back it was a great experience especially since I’d never done anything like that in school. The next day, I got a phone call to say I’d been successful and my start date was a week after with an induction on the first day so it was all really fast.
How was your Modern Apprenticeship (MA) structured?
Originally 3 of us started at the same time and we were meant to rotate round the different roles but we all really enjoyed our initial placement so we continued doing that. For me that meant HR even though my qualification was an SVQ Level 3 in Business Administration.
It took me 10 months to complete the SVQ but the company kept extending my contract by 3 months after that until the MA was completed (1.5 years in total). The extensions were a result of some ongoing organisational restructuring that meant they couldn’t make a longer commitment at that time but they made it clear that they were keen to have me working for them.
Once this MA and the organisational restructure was over I was offered the position of HR Assistant.
What is your day to day job like?
Every day is different and I’m still learning more about everything from recruitment to sickness absence, day to day administration such as filing and managing training records. Towards the end of my MA I was starting to get involved in disciplinary and grievance cases.
What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship?
Definitely go for it.
Do your research – find out more about apprenticeships, so many people still think it’s just the trades but they are so much more than that.
Is this an area of work you always wanted to go into?
I liked Business Admin at school but didn’t know much about HR but as soon as I started doing it I loved it.
Did you have any concerns about doing an apprenticeship?
I did worry that I would end up in the same place as all my friends at Uni but be a year behind, so it was a worry about whether it was the best thing to do. My parents were keen on university and were unsure about the apprenticeship route. My dad especially as he’d done an apprenticeship as a plumber and didn’t think it was right for me but that was only because they didn’t understand how they had changed. Once they learned more about it the came on board quickly.
How would you describe your role in five words?
Exciting, definitely. Always learning something.
The plan is to get more qualifications in HR and continue developing as an HR professional.
Any last words?
An apprenticeship is not just for young people; anyone can do one. If you are an apprentice, go round the schools if you get the opportunity and talk to young people. Hearing all about apprenticeships from the apprentices is really important.
For the employers, it’s not just the MAs that benefit. All the staff I’ve worked with have said they really benefitted from having young, enthusiastic staff coming in with new ideas and experiences – they were teaching us and we were teaching them.