National Apprenticeship Week with Mike Oldham at DVLA

This week is National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), and to celebrate we are shining a light on the exciting apprenticeship opportunities available across the ITS directorate, recognising our apprentices and their achievements.

By sharing their experiences, we hope to inspire others to upskill and grow within our digital family as part of our commitment to becoming a centre of digital excellence.

Mike Oldham is a current DVLA apprentice with an inspiring story to tell, having transformed his career in the last 12 months through DVLA’s Internal Apprenticeship Programme. While working in his previous role at DVLA’s contact centre, Mike applied for an apprenticeship with the Capability and Talent team to study a degree in Data Science. He is now in the second year of his apprenticeship, but has already achieved a promotion and permanency, continuing to thrive in his role.

We recently met with Mike to see how he has found his apprenticeship experience so far, and here’s what he had to say.

Mike Oldham

DVLA’s Internal Apprentice in the Capability and Talent team

“I would 100% recommend a DVLA apprenticeship to anyone who may be looking for a change in their career path and looking to learn something new.”

What motivated you to pursue a DVLA degree apprenticeship?

Back in September 2022, I enrolled in a degree in Cyber Security with the Open University. However,  when the job advert for an apprenticeship in the Capability and Talent team came out in October, I decided to put all my efforts into that application. This opportunity allowed me to work in a new IT role for 4 days while also studying 1 day per week in university, all supported by the department and fully funded by the Welsh Government.

This year’s theme for National Apprenticeship Week is “Skills for Life” – What new skills have you gained since starting your apprenticeship?

Most of my role includes dealing with data and reporting, while producing dashboards and datasets to store the data. A lot of what I have learnt in university so far has helped me understand the structure of databases, and how to store certain types of data best to create effective reports and dashboards.

I’ve also increased my knowledge within Microsoft Excel, so I have a more in depth understanding of the different functions and formulas which I use regularly.

This has also helped me develop my problem-solving skills, which has given me the confidence to overcome new challenges with projects that I’m involved in.

How has your degree apprenticeship impacted your career development and goals?

The degree apprenticeship has definitely opened up more opportunities for me. Being able to spend time out of the office, learning different skills, has enabled me to take on additional projects not only within my team, but the wider IT Controls area.

The training I’ve completed in the office has directly linked with my university modules, meaning I’ve had a better understanding in completing some assignments. I’ve also been able to use the skills I’ve learnt in university within my current role.

How have your colleagues and line manager supported you in your professional development?

My line manager, Nick, has played a huge role in supporting me through the apprenticeship and professional development as he is also studying on the same degree programme. This has meant that I’ve had a stronger and closer relationship with him from the very start, and it also means that he is able to better understand some of the challenges I’m going through.

As well as Nick supporting me fully, our Capability and Talent Lead has also been very supportive and has been impressed with a lot of my work since joining the team. This has led to other senior leaders coming to me for assistance with certain tasks, and even having the chance to be part of an annual assessment process which is run for over 240 staff in IT specialist roles.

My work in updating and improving the process was recognised and I was awarded an exceptional contribution award from Amy Taaffe-Evans, the head of IT Controls.

Would you recommend a DVLA apprenticeship to others?

I would 100% recommend a DVLA apprenticeship to anyone who may be looking for a change in their career path and looking to learn something new. It has opened so many doors for me and I believe that this will continue as I progress through my degree over the next two – three-years.

What advice would you give someone considering a DVLA apprenticeship?

You should make sure that you have time that you can put aside outside of work hours to be able to complete additional learning and assignments. It can be difficult at times, but it’s important to get the assignments completed and submitted sooner rather than later as this can add extra stress. I’m managing well so far, while also completing my full-time role and looking after my family, including my two daughters. This has included a couple of late nights though!

Hear from more of DVLA’s Apprentices!

Ready for more? Touch base with DVLA’s latest apprentices and year-in-industry students and hear all about their professional and personal journeys