Meet Aspire’s Skill Coach

This week, we show a glimpse into the life of our passionate Skills Coach, Lorna O’Brien! Meet the driving force behind our vision of placing students at the heart of everything we do.

What is your background?
I started my career in the travel industry managing corporate travel arrangements. I progressed to become an operations manager of a small office initially that grew into a large call centre. After managing the operation through its growth, I decided that the part of that process I enjoyed the most was coaching and mentoring new staff, so I qualified to become a post-16 teacher and started a new career teaching business in a FE college. I’m now a Skills Coach for Aspire.

How did you fall into Skills Coaching and the role you are in now? 
Having come from industry into education I found that the qualifications being taught in college were very general and not relevant to the modern workplace. The introduction of the apprenticeship standards was a huge step in the right direction particularly as they were created by industry professional bodies.

I became involved in teaching some of the professional qualifications and soft skills to apprentices in different business roles, but I felt the college approach to training apprentices had not adapted fully and was still entrenched in old educational processes. I then started seeing a lot of new apprenticeship providers that were approaching apprenticeship training with fresh approaches. I saw a vacancy with Aspire and I felt their vision of putting apprentices and learners at the heart of everything they do aligns with my values.

Lorna OBrien headshot

What does your role involve?  
As a Skills Coach, my role is to coach, support, and mentor apprentices from the sign up of their apprenticeship to the completion of their end point assessment. Each apprentice is an individual and will require different support approaches and have different skills that may need to be developed.

Part of my role is to meet with apprentices and their line managers to review their progress on the programme and to make sure they are being supported and given the opportunity to put their learning into practice.

What does a typical day consist of in your role?
My day starts with a review of my calendar, to check what meetings I have booked in for the day. I make sure I have all the information needed ready for those meetings. I then check my email messages. After this I log on to Bud which is the computer system that we use with the apprentice to track progress, set tasks, and communicate.

As a Skills Coach, I will look to see if an apprentice has started to fall behind and if so, I will reach out to them to arrange a support meeting. I will mark any work that has come in and give development feedback. It will now be time for the first progress review of the day with an apprentice and their line manager.

This meeting will last about an hour, in which we review the apprentice’s progress on the qualification and in the workplace. We look at knowledge, skills, and behaviours that they have achieved since the last review 12 weeks ago and set some SMART targets to work on until the next review. My final task of the day will be to look at the meetings booked in for the next day and prepare any of the information that is required for those.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy seeing the apprentice grow in confidence, and hearing in their progress reviews that their learning is making a difference to not only them but to their team and the organisation.

What advice would you give to somebody considering taking an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is an excellent method to not only gain a professional qualification but to put that qualification to use in the workplace. With an apprenticeship you will also develop critical thinking and analytical skills which are very desirable skills in business.

Apprenticeships in Procurement and Supply is now available to employees wanting to improve their skills and knowledge to enhance their career. For more information about our apprenticeships in procurement and supply, please contact our team.

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