Ryan Smith

Ryan is an ICT Business Analyst with Thames Valley Police. He completed a Level 3 Infrastructure Technician Apprenticeship with the force prior to moving into his current role. He is also studying towards Business Management Degree with the Open University in his free time.

Why did you choose to do an Apprenticeship?

I chose to do an Apprenticeship as I was entirely sure on a career path and did not feel the need to go and accumulate debt in university fees without being entirely sure. I also prefer to learn whilst on the job as it allows me to practise the theory. I often find that I better retain the information for doing this.

How did you find out about your Apprenticeship?

I was working for Thames Valley Police in a recruitment admin role when I saw the job advertised.

What does your job involve?

My Apprenticeship role focused on providing 2nd line Application, Data and Server Support across Thames Valley Police/Hampshire Constabulary. The planning and performing of applications upgrades around core working hours and the completion of fix, upgrade and overall guidance documentation for other colleagues and our knowledge base. I also had the responsibility of mentoring/training Service Desk Analyst (1st line support) and work experience students.

My new role is completely different. It is a step sideways in terms of career but one I think I will be better suited too. This role involves influencing and advising the force, suppliers and senior officers in order to achieve the best possible alignment between programmes and projects for both forces and guide ICT strategies, targeting delivery of improved performance and at a reduced cost where possible. I have to identify new business capabilities to ensure the maximum benefit is achieved from ICT’s delivery capacity and work program.

It is also my responsibility to act as a conduit between ICT and the business to ensure that the deliverables meet the requirements, including undertaking gap analysis and other industry standards whilst trying to reduce the overall cost base of the delivery and seek out value for money services.

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about my job is that I am helping make business decisions within a police force. The decisions I help make and gather information for are contributing to front line policing and the overall outcome of keeping the public safe!

What did you gain from your Apprenticeship?

What I gained from the Apprenticeship was the confidence and experience to be proud and take ownership of the work that I undertake. I was thrown in the deep end from day one (as there was a slight shortage in staff when I joined) which meant that I had to learn quickly in order to help front line police officers and staff.

During the Apprenticeship, I learnt many technical skills that will help me as I progress through my career in ICT. Since moving into the business team, I am developing my soft skills with business stakeholders. Having that little bit of technical background really helps when trying to understand the stakeholders concerns / queries.

What do you plan to do next?

My plan is to continue developing within my new role as an ICT Business Analyst with the plan to progress into a senior business analyst role / project manager role in the future. Alongside my working life, I have also started a Business Management Degree with the Open University and study this in my free time. My new role is about critical thinking and I thought that a degree would help me develop this skill further.

How will your Apprenticeship help you achieve this?

My Apprenticeship will help me achieve this as while I was in the app support team I got to work with various members of the project team. I got to shadow and learn tricks of the trade that I may be able to get a head start in developing whilst in my new role.

What advice would you give a young person who might be thinking about an Apprenticeship?

Apply to a few. There is no harm in applying. I was hesitant at first but at the end of the day – it is your decision if you take the job. If you have the interview and decide the job is not for you, you have had some interview prep that will help you with the next one. It is an opportunity to visit the employer and the people you would be working alongside and scope out if this was something you would be interested in.

What advice would you give a young person who might be thinking about an Apprenticeship?

If you really enjoy a certain subject at school and know you want to choose that pathway as a career then an Apprenticeship would be an idea.

What’s your top tip?

Apply yourself in the job. An Apprenticeship only works if you are keen and enthusiastic to learn about the topic and role.

How do you feel about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador?

Slightly nervous but, excited. I am very keen on working in small focus groups as opposed to large assemblies and presentations. Apprenticeships are about applying yourself by attending a focus group / workshop the individual is doing exactly that.