Keep updated on Built Environment industry insights and thoughts from UCEM Principal: Ashley Wheaton.
Introducing… Our apprenticeship directors
Posted on: 12 February, 2021
Apprenticeships have become an increasingly integral staple of UCEM’s education provision since we first offered them in 2015. We continually survey the apprenticeship landscape to ensure we are offering the best options for employers within the built environment.
This focus on apprenticeships extends to the staff we have who deliver our apprenticeships and, as part of this drive, we appointed Mike Speight as our director of apprenticeships compliance and Kate Deakin as our director of apprenticeships operations at the end of last year.
We thought we would ask them what their roles entail, how this shapes our provision and more, and they duly obliged!
MS: I am responsible for ensuring that the apprenticeship programme at UCEM meets the requirements of our regulators, principally the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
KD: I’m responsible for the operations and delivery of our apprenticeships within UCEM, making sure our teams are delivering a quality experience for our apprentices!
Key work relationships
KD: It’s clear that the apprenticeship team needs to work closely with all areas of UCEM to ensure apprentices have a great journey with us. We work particularly with the business development team to ensure we are giving employers what they want and expect, as well as developing our relationships with student central and the school itself.
We need to know that our apprentices are progressing well on their degree programme, as well as making sure they have the wrap-around support that departments like student central can give them.
It’s been a key focus of mine to fully integrate apprenticeships into UCEM. Collaboration is vital between our teams across the institution to enable a clarity of vision around the journey we want our apprentices to have.
MS: Most of my time is spent working within the apprenticeship management team but I also interact with every other team at UCEM from admissions and registry through to the digital education and technical teams and, most importantly, with the school [School of the Built Environment] and the academics.
Working relationship with one another
MS: We have complementary skills sets and experience and started in our roles at more or less the same time. We have a similar outlook and a shared approach to how the programme should run. This means we work well together but also can operate independently safe in the knowledge that each of us can represent the other.
Careers to date
MS: After graduating, my first job was in a cemetery but I quickly progressed through warehousing, hospitality, engineering sales, recruitment and customer management consultancy to working in apprenticeships and adult skills delivery. In this sector, I have worked with further education (FE) colleges, private providers, charities and local authorities, and have increasingly specialised in audit and compliance activities over the last 5-6 years.
KD: I’ve spent nearly 20 years in the apprenticeships and skills sector, mainly working with large independent training providers and FE colleges like learndirect, Peopleplus, South Thames College and more recently heading up Capita’s 8,000 + learners apprenticeship division. UCEM is my first foray into higher education and I’m very excited to be here!
What do you enjoy about your work?
MS: All of it. I genuinely enjoy every interaction, learn something new every day and love working with the brilliant team we have. My favourite thing about UCEM in general and the apprenticeships team specifically is that we all want the same thing and work hard to achieve it.
KD: People and developing relationships is what interests me the most. At UCEM, I get to work with a range of people across all areas of the institution and work towards a shared goal of ensuring our apprenticeship delivery is successful.
Apprenticeships give access to education outside the normal academic route and allows people who usually wouldn’t have that opportunity to truly succeed in the workplace. They are a great way to encourage and enable social mobility and I believe all of us should be given the opportunity to flourish in whatever we choose to do.
Hopes for the role
KD: I’d like to think I will succeed in integrating apprenticeships into the rest of UCEM and embedding the relevant culture, vision and values of the institution within our apprenticeship team and vice versa.
MS: At the highest level, we want UCEM to become the centre of excellence for built environment education but, within that, our focus is on delivering the best possible and most straightforward learning experience for every apprentice.
KD: To grow, develop our online delivery so it is world class, broaden our offer and programmes and truly become the centre of excellence for built environment education!
MS: As the apprenticeship programme matures, we aim to consistently produce industry-leading retention and achievement rates. Looking to the next steps, we want to broaden the scope and deliver a wider range of apprenticeships, all focused on the built environment.