The JRO launched a School Leaver Apprenticeship scheme in August 2015.
Our aim was to work with a local school to find a student with appropriate skills who would be motivated to grasp the opportunity of JRO Apprenticeship, with the hope of launching a professional career. We were interested in helping a student who might not otherwise have the chance to develop or seek this kind of professional career trajectory.
We envisaged the post as an entry-level position with a fixed duration of one year, and was aimed at school leavers with an interest in finance. The successful candidate was to be based in the JRO grants team in the Commonwealth Building at Hammersmith.
Burlington Danes Academy, a local school adjacent to the Hammersmith Campus, agreed to work with us on this scheme. The Head of the 6th Form, Laura Stone, was extremely supportive and was instrumental in helping to select the first Apprentice.
Laura said: “We were delighted to be approached by Imperial regarding the School Leaver Apprenticeship scheme. We work hard to try and foster links with employers so that our students can access valuable and relevant work experience; and to receive support from an organisation as renowned as Imperial is just fantastic.
“What has been the biggest benefit has been the time commitment of a one year paid placement. This enables the student to fully grasp the wide range of specialist and inter-personal skills required for working in a professional environment and build up real examples that they will be able to use in future job applications. In a time of increasing cost for university study, it provides students with the opportunity to save up for tuition fees whilst doing something that enriches them. As a school we feel that being able to provide our students with challenging, relevant and high-quality work experience in our local community is part of our vision, and Imperial have helped us realise that for two very fortunate students. I look forward to working with them for the second year.”
The scheme has been a great success and our first Apprentice, Cherry Thein, has taken her opportunity with both hands. Cherry has been a quick learner, has worked hard and has grown in confidence as the months have progressed. She has not just been a token observer, but has been carrying out important work and her efforts have made a significant impact on the productivity of the grants team.
Cherry said: “I have really enjoyed the scheme and it has been extremely useful, as it has helped ease the transition from a school environment to the workplace. This apprenticeship was a stepping-stone for me and the experience has given me more options for the future, as well as an advantage when looking for a job.
“What surprised me the most about working in the JRO was seeing how the money from charities like the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK is actually being used to fund important research. It really motivated me to work because you’re helping these researchers, at least on a small scale, to find an answer. It is interesting working with several diverse teams and departments to make sure a research project can be carried out smoothly.”
The motivation for setting up the scheme was two-fold. Firstly, it was an opportunity for the College to engage in social responsibility with its local community. Secondly, it allowed us to pick up and run with a project reviewing College apprenticeship, which one of our Grant Manger’s Victor Abah developed on the ‘Impact’ Staff Development Programme. Victor has taken on the role as mentor to the apprentice.
The JRO Apprenticeship scheme could not have worked out better. As a result we are continuing with the scheme and have already signed up another Burlington Danes pupil, who will become the second apprentice in August 2016.
Joint Research Office