What I gained from completing my Data Science apprenticeship

Natasha Bance

During my time in school, I never had an idea of what career I wanted. This  made choosing a path difficult. I only discovered that I wanted to work with data when I was years into my professional career. Having missed the ‘traditional’ opportunity to go to university after school, the Level 6 Data Science apprenticeship presented itself as the ideal opportunity as it offered both learning and hands-on experience.

I spent the last 3 years working 4 days a week at the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and studying for 1 day at Cardiff Metropolitan University. I have loved the experience and believe there are huge benefits over the conventional university experience. One of the most obvious benefits is the lack of worry about tuition fees.

I have found the learning experience to be practical and effective. Class-based learning is great for learning from experts, discussing theories, and picking up new skills, often from working on individual projects. Learning at work is a lot more solution orientated and dictated by your current work stream. It gives you an opportunity to apply the skills you have learnt while working with colleagues from your team. It is a unique opportunity to get a high level of learning from two sources at the same time, with both approaches complementing each other and enrichening the overall experience.

There are also some challenges to an apprenticeship. The time-management around deadlines can be hard to manage. Juggling learning, coursework and the day-job is demanding. But these challenges can also make you a more rounded professional. It helps teach you time-management skills and develops your ability to produce quality work under pressure.

All considered, the positives of the apprenticeship programme far outweigh any negatives. If you’re considering an apprenticeship, I would highly recommend it. Although there will be challenging times along the way, it is a great way to pick up complex skills, get amazing work experience and fast-track your career.

Gabriel Shires
Natasha Bance
Gabriel Shires is a data scientist in the Economic Statistics Change team at the Office for National Statistics (ONS).