Sue Donoghue has been part of the Knowledgepool apprenticeships team since 2016 and is based in the Welsh region. Prior to this she worked in charity sector with care leavers and youth offenders to re-engage them and support their maths, English, IT and social skills in getting them ready to work or go to college.
Sue currently supports apprentices in organisations including DWP, HMRC, Mojo, Highways England and the Planning Inspectorate, primarily delivering Operational Delivery, Customer Service and Business Administration programmes.
As part of her role, Sue works closely with line managers. Through this she can forge and maintain relationships, getting them involved in the learner journey and helping them see the value of apprenticeships to both the organisation and the apprentice.
Sue is Knowledgepool’s safeguarding officer for the region and also provides coaching and support for new Talent Coaches.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If I’m out with apprentices for the day, I generally check my emails first thing for anything urgent. I meet with apprentices throughout the day before completing any work that’s come in and prepare for the next day. I also have administration days to mark work and provide formative feedback to apprentices to keep them on track. By planning my diary 8-12 weeks in advance I can secure rooms and materials to ensure workshops and visits run smoothly. Plus, I keep up-to-date with my own training and development and run support sessions for new coaches.
What do you think makes an effective learner experience?
I think it’s about a making every interaction individual and tailored to that person. You can understand what’s going on, any personal pressures, and have the empathy to provide advice and guidance. It’s also being clear about why you're having the meeting, what you'll be discussing and how it relates to the apprenticeship and their job. This really helps to keep them on board and on track. They need to leave the meeting knowing more than when they came in and what to do next. It’s also about being accessible and approachable when the apprentice needs you.
I get great satisfaction from receiving emails from apprentices and line managers thanking me for my help and support!
What are some of the positive impacts you’ve seen from apprenticeships?
I’ve seen many examples of the positive impacts of apprenticeships on people's lives. One apprentice I supported was Abigale Rivers, Deputy Team Leader at DWP UC in Bristol. Abigale initially carried out a traineeship to support her to get back into work – she’d left school early and hadn’t achieved the qualifications she’d wanted. Through this and then the apprenticeship I supported her on, she achieved her qualifications. This really boosted her confidence, not only at work but also at home. So much so that she has recently secured a promotion. This really demonstrates the impact apprenticeships can have on people’s lives.
Why choose apprenticeships?
From a learner perspective, an apprenticeship will give you all the experience and skills you need to develop in a role. You’re supported all the way through and you get paid at the same time.
From an employer perspective, apprenticeships are better for their business. With colleagues learning new skills they bring a new perspective and contribute with new ideas through their training and consolidation of learning.