As part of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Ivana Curuvija, our Greening Officer, tells us about her SNH apprenticeship and how it enhanced her existing work experience.
Soon after starting my job with SNH as Chief Executive’s Group Support back in 2013, I was given the opportunity to do an SVQ Level 3 in Business and Administration. I was excited but also surprised as I never really thought these courses would be available to people with existing degrees or to someone who left school a long time ago.
At university, I studied art, fashion, and textile design – not particularly relevant to my position at SNH or the other administrative roles I held previously. I thought the SVQ course would be an interesting way to further my skills and contribute to my own personal training and development. I was also excited to have the chance to earn a formal qualification on top of the 10 years’ work experience I already had. The fact that this qualification could be gained during work hours was, and is, a huge advantage to the course.
I didn’t know what to expect from going back to school – would I be attending regular lectures, reading through textbooks? I didn’t even know what SVQ stood for until I did some digging! It turns out SVQ is a qualification based on gathering evidence aligning with my job, so it was very easy to incorporate my studies into my every day.
The course consisted of five optional and three mandatory units. Coursework was split between a written section, called “Knowledge and Understanding”, and a practical section called “Performance Indicators” which required me to provide evidence such as screen shots, e-mails, and other data. All the answers and evidence get uploaded onto an online learning portal. Everything is stored virtually with the assessor being able to review the units online without reams of paper being passed around.
As with anything new, I had a number of teething problems. The online portal didn’t always work, and I was switched to a new assessor during the course following delays from my first assessor. As a result, my qualification – which could have been completed in a matter of months – took a full year. I had an initial meeting with my first assessor to review the system and her expectations of me. After that meeting, I was expected to be very independent and lead my own studies – though looking back I probably ended up submitting twice the amount of required written evidence for each task!
Online learning can be a strange or even frustrating concept since you’re not receiving the kind of help that would be given face to face in a classroom, however the assistance from the right tutor can make all the difference. My second assessor was very helpful in making sure I finished my course: he met with me and my line manager, checked all my evidence, and ensured I had my qualification in hand within 2 weeks.
Having this qualification provides a bit of strength and confirmation alongside years of experience. Having that piece of paper is sometimes needed and I’m glad I have it now. As for how it’s affected my career, I can say my responsibilities have definitely increased and my current role is far more demanding that it used to be – this is likely due to a combination of my SVQ qualification and my increased experience. Overall, I’m very pleased to have done the course, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in further studies.
Find out more about Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2018 here.