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Upskilling at work - the Data Technician Apprentice

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A marketing manager and a Kaplan employee, Alex Devall started a Data Technician course to help boost his career prospects. Here is his story. 

Hi Alex, why study a Data Technician Apprenticeship?

I wanted to address a skill (and weakness!) that I didn’t have.

So far in my marketing career I’ve been largely focused on writing and communications so this area (data) was neglected. When I first started working in marketing data analytics was nowhere near as prevalent as it is now, but today many business decisions are based on interpreting data.

The course suits me as it’s more of an entry level programme. It teaches you how to read data that has been taken from different sources and communicate to stakeholders in a meaningful and actionable way.

How’s it going so far?

I’ve been doing it for 3 months now (from March 2021). It’s going well. I’m enjoying the way it’s taught.

If I compare it to the way my uni degree was taught then it comes across particularly well. They really mix things up in a way that keeps you on your toes.

They teach you for a bit and then move onto interactive exercises and mini assessments to make sure you are constantly engaging with the learning material.

However, at uni I could be studying a topic for a long time and not really have those ‘check in’ moments where I am getting live feedback or bouncing ideas off other students.

The course is great because I’m always aware of my weaknesses and where I need to improve. So there’s a greater chance I am prepared going into the exam.

Have there been any major challenges thus far?

It’s hard to say because it’s early days. But learning through Live Online was something I needed to adapt to as it’s totally new to me. I must say though, Kaplan did a really good job in easing me into it.

Live Online is just like being in a classroom - but virtual. It’s a live environment, with a breakout room, and it is really engaging. Similar to a classroom, you have to be engaged in the discussion.

I didn’t think it would be like that. I thought it might be isolating and that I might feel quite removed from everything, but it isn’t like that at all. You can’t really get away with being mentally detached.

They give you onboarding exercises to make sure you are comfortable with everything and that everyone is on the same page.

I’m in with a nice cohort of other students and the tutor knows us all individually at this point.

What are you looking to use the qualification for? Is it helping with your role?

It helps with my job as it improves my reporting and understanding the various channels we use, therefore helping me make informed decisions. During the pandemic all financial consequences have been heightened, so there is a stronger emphasis on working more efficiently.

In terms of my future role I think it will really help in the way shape narratives around performance to major stakeholders throughout the business. As I progress to management level there will be more emphasis on communicating data to wider stakeholders to inform big consequential decisions.

How are you fitting it in with your job?

The balancing act was something I was worried about before I started. I got promoted around the same time of starting this course too so I was concerned I would be overwhelmed. But the company and my line manager have been really supportive.

We carefully plan the time out in my diary so that I can comfortably take on the apprenticeship, in addition to my job responsibilities.

My apprenticeship is clearly benefiting my job so there are few complaints at the moment. My job and course are so relevant to each other it only feels like a positive to be doing both. Having a supportive manager and company really helps.

Having said that, it is a bit of a challenge balancing both, but it’s more than worth the extra effort.

Any final thoughts?

For future apprentices, I would say make all invested parties aware of what workload you have for both your job and your course so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Set the expectations as early as possible so you are all on the same page - then it’s happy days.

For more information on our data analytics course, please see our Data Technician Apprenticeship standard.