Waltham Forest London Borough Council is using its apprenticeship levy to build digital marketing expertise, providing professional development opportunities for junior employees who want to move up the career ladder.

The Council has long recognised the importance of investing in career development for existing staff as well as new recruits, and digital marketing apprentice Sevjan Hassan is one employee who has benefited from apprenticeship opportunities available through the levy.

Creating a ladder of opportunity

Sevjan had worked for Waltham Forest Council for two years before starting her apprenticeship programme. A year earlier she had moved into the role of Digital and Content Officer and was responsible for communicating with education professionals and working with services in the Council to communicate the latest opportunities, guidance and legislation to education settings.

Sevjan was keen to further her career and move into a more senior marketing role, and despite holding a degree in journalism she knew that she would need to develop knowledge and skills that were more directly related to her future career aspirations.

When Sevjan was approached by her head of service and line manager about undertaking the level 3 Digital Marketer apprenticeship she was initially surprised, but soon realised that it would be a great career development opportunity. She said:

“I’d always assumed that apprenticeships were for school leavers, or someone looking for their first job. I didn’t realise that I could do one myself.

“I now understand that apprenticeships are about building knowledge and skills, and it’s an opportunity to gain a recognised qualification and develop the expertise you need to move to the next stage of your career. This can open so many doors for the future.”

A chance to apply new knowledge and skills

Sevjan’s apprenticeship was not without challenges. She started in September 2019 but was forced to take a break in learning in March 2020 due to a bereavement. When she restarted her apprenticeship in September 2020 she found herself juggling the demands of work, learning and parenting throughout two further lockdowns that were imposed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, Sevjan approached her apprenticeship with positivity, and soon gained a lot of knowledge that she has been able to apply directly to her current role. She particularly enjoyed the social media strategy modules, and has been able to support colleagues at Waltham Forest Council to develop marketing strategies for the organisation. She has grown in confidence and is on track to complete her apprenticeship by summer 2021.

Making an impact

Melody Thornton, Apprenticeships Manager at Waltham Forest Council, has seen the impact that the apprenticeship has had not only on Sevjan herself, but also on the wider department. She said,

“The programme has given Sevjan a really good grounding in the principles of digital marketing and has given her a chance to develop technical skills across a range of digital platforms, as well as a more strategic approach to marketing.

“She has already been able to apply her new knowledge and skills in her role as a digital content officer, and this is evident in the quality of work produced. It has also been great to see Sevjan contributing to marketing strategies and supporting the work done by the wider team.

“At Waltham Forest Council we are keen to meet the public sector apprenticeship target of employing an average of 2.3% of our staff as new apprentice starts. We can see the impact it has on career development, not just for new recruits but existing employees as well, and the Council benefits from the wider range of knowledge and skills that our apprentices bring to their teams.”

Benefits of increasing digital marketing capability

The level 3 Digital Marketer apprenticeship, which can be funded either through the apprenticeship levy, levy transfer funds or Government co-investment, is a great programme that can support organisations to increase their digital capability and expertise.

Tina Chummun, apprenticeship development coach for this standard, explains how the learners and employers she supports have benefitted:

“The apprenticeship covers a number of specialist areas, from search engine optimisation and web analytics to email marketing and Pay-Per-Click. Learners can focus on the areas that are most relevant to their role.

“We’ve seen our apprentices grow in confidence and take on increasing responsibility as they develop their skills and expertise. They can contribute to achieving organisational goals and help to boost business growth through effective digital marketing. It’s a win-win for the apprentice and for their employer.”

Employers – To find out more about this standard and how it’s delivered, you can listen to a recording of our recent webinar: An Introduction to the Level 3 Digital Marketer Apprenticeship