Vikki Wherlock

Apprenticeship case study

Vikki Wherlock

Head of Student Services tells tale of 19 years at City of Bristol College and how it all started with an apprenticeship.

Long-standing City of Bristol College employee, Vikki Wherlock, started off her career with the college as a student almost two decades ago when she started a Business Administration Level 3 apprenticeship.

Vikki started her journey at City of Bristol College as a student in 2002. Despite originally wanting to pursue her love of physical education after getting high grades in her GCSEs, Vikki decided to venture down the administration route instead – completing the Business Administration Level 3 as a modern apprenticeship.

The ‘modern apprenticeship’ saw Vikki attend college for a majority of the time while completing work placements regularly. One of these placements was with City of Bristol College which she said was her ‘foot in the door’.

She said: “The mix of teaching in college and then being able to put the skills I learned into practice in a real-life environment was very beneficial, something which a full-time course would not have been able to offer me. After gaining experience in this role, I was able to apply for an internal vacancy and was able to provide real life examples in my application and interview which supported the decision to offer me the job.”

Vikki secured a fixed-term contract at the college in its MIS (Management Information Systems) department to further her portfolio of knowledge. When the contract came to an end, she was able to apply for another role within the same team where she had many opportunities to progress.

Now, 19 years on, she works as the Head of Student Services after being awarded the promotion from her previous role as Assistant ILR (Individual Learner Record) Funding Manager in the MIS team.

Vikki added: “My long-term goal is to carry on gaining experience in different aspects of the college as well as continuing with my own personal development through courses, so that I can apply for other progression opportunities.

A jack of all trades, Vikki didn’t stop at her Level 3 Business Administration course, she also went on to study further while employed at the college – completing a Professional Trainer Certificate, an NVQ in Hairdressing, a Level 3 Text Processing course, a Level 3 Introduction to Management, a Level 2 Customer Service apprenticeship and most recently she graduated at Bristol Cathedral in November last year after achieving an Extended Diploma in Leadership and Management Level 5. An experience she said she ‘never thought she would achieve from starting out as an apprentice’.

Vikki added: “When I started my Leadership and Management course at City of Bristol College, I was intrigued to see how it could support progression in my career. Well little did I know it would happen so soon! Six months after graduation I was offered a secondment opportunity as the interim Head of Student Services and it has since become permanent!”

Now Vikki is calling on other prospective students to ‘talk through their options’ and look at City of Bristol College as their stepping stone to vault them onto their chosen career path.

She said: “The college is an inclusive environment where you can achieve anything you put your mind and time to. Studying an apprenticeship is a fantastic way of obtaining real life experience in the field of work which you are interested in as well as earning money. It allows you to understand the environment and expectations which employers have with their employees. I have successful guided four apprentices in my team, each of which have gone on to progress to their Level 3 and have found full-time employment opportunities which has been very rewarding for me knowing I was supporting an apprentice who started out just like me.”

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