Renfrewshire Council

Top marks for our graduate apprentices

A total of 10 Renfrewshire Council employees completed their graduate apprenticeships this year gaining Business Management degrees from Glasgow Caledonian University.

Congratulations and well done to: 

David Adkins, BA (Hons)
Jordanne Anderson, BA (Hons)
Claire Irving, BA (Hons)
Jack Lochans, BA (with distinction)
Graeme MacFarlane, BA (Hons)
Stuart McLean, BA (Hons)
Shireen Milne, BA (Hons)
Seonaid O'Neil, BA (Hons)
Ryan Phillips, BA (Hons)
Jamie Robertson BA (Hons)

Our graduate apprenticeship programme allows colleagues to combine work and study towards a degree in a variety of subjects with courses ranging from 2 to 5 years in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of the West of Scotland. We currently have 52 colleagues across the council enrolled in courses and wish them all well with their studies.


2023 Graduate Apprentices Photo 2
Pictured left to right: Ryan Phillips, Jordanne Anderson, David Adkins, Stuart McLean, Jamie Robertson, Claire Irving




2023 Graduate Apprentices Photo 1
Pictured left to right: Ryan Phillips, Graeme MacFarlane, Seonaid O'Neil, Jordanne Anderson, David Adkins, Shireen Milne, Stuart McLean, Jamie Robertson



Graduates share their experiences

We met with five of this year's graduates to find out more about the realities of what's involved and the benefits of completing a graduate apprenticeship:

David Adkins, ICT Portfolio Manager

My line manager at the time raised the idea of joining the graduate apprenticeship in March 2019. At the time I don't think any of us appreciated how much time and dedication would be involved, but I think it a very valuable experience to have had the opportunity to be involved with.

My mentor for the apprenticeship wasn't my line manager but a senior manager that I worked very closely with throughout the programme. Her support was key for me to obtain the required organisational information to complete my studies, whether it be from her direct knowledge or introductions to key service managers to impart their specialist knowledge. In that sense, the support of managers in the wider council did have some impact on my ability to complete the assignments. 

In terms of career progression, I can reflect and see where I've improved my critical thinking, time management and communication skills. All of these have developed over the course of the programme and given me the confidence to apply for, and be successful, in two promoted posts. I have a new person joining my team shortly and when HR poll managers for the 2024/25 programme I intend to encourage them to join and hopefully gain the knowledge and satisfaction that I've been a beneficiary of during my time on the programme."

Seonaid O'Neil, Facilities Manager

I had never considered being able to achieve a degree until the opportunity was provided via email regarding the graduate apprenticeship scheme. At the time it was only available for colleagues in roles at certain grades and I'm so glad that they changed this as it has enabled our lower grade staff to apply, with two of my staff having just completed their first year. 

My boss, since retired, was fully supportive and whilst I was in a temporary role when I began, I have now achieved a permanent promoted position. The knowledge I gained through the learning experienced has definitely helped me grow and I would encourage anyone who is provided this opportunity to take it, regardless of their age."

Jamie Robertson, Senior Change & Improvement Officer

I found the graduate apprenticeship scheme really worthwhile and rewarding. It has been a lot of work and while I'm relieved that it's finished, I'm very glad I decided to do it. I first heard about it through our HR&OD team who sent an email out to teams to ask for any initial interest, and in discussion with my line manager I applied for the course. 

My line manager/mentor changed part way through the course as I got a new job in Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership, however both my previous and current mentors have been really helpful when I have had any questions or needed some guidance. I've also found other teams and staff members really helpful and willing to contribute.

I think a number of the subjects within the course were relevant to my job role and career within change/project management, but also it has helped with a number of general skills including report writing, research, data analysis etc. I really liked the fact it was mostly all related to our own workplace."

Stuart McLean, Procurement Assistant

I initially found out about the scheme through word of mouth from other people who had applied for it. When I approached my manager at the time to say I was interested she was supportive and agreed that it would be beneficial to my development.  I think having a number of council colleagues involved was beneficial as we all supported one another throughout the duration of the course. 

I started a new role in procurement over a year ago, and the knowledge gained from the course has been pivotal to my development in learning about my role as the assignments were work-based and related directly to procurement. Additionally, other modules allowed me to gain a better understanding of how the council and different services operate as a whole, which has given me further knowledge into processes adopted by our organisation."

Claire Irving, ICT Senior Support Worker

I heard about the graduate apprenticeship programme from colleagues when I was working on the ERP-Business World project. Despite an ambitious and challenging project timeline both the project lead and sponsor were very supportive and always found the time to answer questions, check in on progress or sign assignment forms. Their support was a big help throughout the 4-year course, particularly in the final year when conducting a large research project for my dissertation, and I think this is reflective of the wider organisational commitment to fostering a culture of continuous improvement and valuing learning.

The structure of the graduate apprenticeship was appealing to me as it offered variety and a balance of modules that were relevant to my job as well as exposure to new areas of business. I also liked that there were students from a wide range of organisations as this provided additional perspectives from other sectors and made for a more interesting learning experience. 

Throughout my time on the course, I got the opportunity to work for the UK Cabinet Office. I was initially concerned that the time dedicated to my degree course may be a disadvantage in a competitive job market, but quickly learned the opposite is true. The UK Cabinet Office were very supportive of the commitment to further education and were already working on their own plans to bolster networking with local universities, which I think demonstrates the wider drive to grow and attract new talent to the public sector and modernise future service delivery.

The graduate apprenticeship has been a great opportunity to enhance my skills and knowledge whilst working and I am excited to see what opportunities lie ahead!"

Visit our graduate apprenticeship webpage for more details.


Published on Thursday 14 December 2023

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