Case study

Procurement apprentice — Immy Timbrell

Immy is working towards a CIPS (Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply) Level 4 procurement apprenticeship at Jisc. Learn more about what her apprenticeship involves

Why did you decide on a career in procurement?

When I applied for this apprenticeship I didn't know much about procurement or have any procurement experience, but I read the job description and the role sounded very interesting.

I read more about procurement and what Jisc represents, and I especially liked the values and principles they stand for so I applied for it. I am still not sure what I want to do when I am older, but I am thoroughly enjoying my career so far.

Why did you opt for an apprenticeship over other routes?

I always wanted to do an apprenticeship. I knew an apprenticeship would enable me to study towards a qualification while gaining experience and being supported in the workplace. I knew I would gain invaluable experience that would help me throughout my career. Furthermore, I wanted to earn a salary while learning, not have a large university debt and to be able to continue with my passions such as cheerleading and surfing.

How did you find and apply for your apprenticeship?

I found the apprenticeship through an online job search. I then applied directly through the Jisc website.

Tell us a bit more about your procurement apprenticeship.

My procurement apprenticeship involves completing the CIPS Level 4 diploma and an End Point Assessment (EPA), once I have passed all my exams.

The Level 4 diploma is broken up into eight exams in total - six of them are multiple choice and two are written exams. To help me study for these exams I attend college every Thursday during term time to learn the modules, then complete self-study for revision before an exam.

Once I have passed all of the modules, I can then move onto my EPA, which is a 5,000 word essay about a project I have been working on showcasing the knowledge, skills and behaviours I have learned throughout my apprenticeship. I will then finish my apprenticeship by completing a presentation to a CIPS member with a Q&A session at the end.

Throughout my apprenticeship I've worked in the procurement team at Jisc. My daily tasks involve supporting or independently working on tenders for projects, liaising with stakeholders and suppliers and running spend analysis and reports.

What's a typical working day like for you?

The procurement team are responsible for ensuring that the services and goods obtained from external suppliers are at the right quality and standard, are the best value for money and compliant with the rules and processes necessary.

We follow the whole life cycle from identifying the needs of the good/service, to helping create the contract. It then moves onto the contract management team who monitor and manage the contract/supplier relationships.

My day-to-day work varies from collecting data on systems and presenting them, evaluating supplier bids, sending out ITT (Invitations to Tender), liaising with stakeholders and going to college weekly.

Describe your apprenticeship in 3 words.

  • fast-paced
  • challenging
  • rewarding.

What part of your apprenticeship do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the opportunities I get given as an apprentice. I have had the chance to speak at multiple events, including an Employer Conference at SGS college and on the International Women's Day panel at Digifest 2023 discussing women in tech.

I also enjoy going to college because as I go through the modules I learn more and more, which is extremely helpful with my job as I had little knowledge of procurement and supply so it has really helped me with my professional development.

What are the challenges?

When I first started my apprenticeship I had little previous experience and knowledge around procurement, so it has been a steep learning curve. Although in the first few months it was continuously learning new skills and information, I can look back now and feel proud of what I have learned and achieved so far.

Another big challenge is time management, with working full time while going to college weekly and also having to study and revise for exams.

What three qualities are important for a procurement apprentice?

I don't believe there are three specific qualities you need to be a procurement apprentice but I think the following skills are good qualities to have if you're working in an professional environment:

  • willingness to learn and develop
  • the ability to work well in a team
  • strong communication skills.

What are your career ambitions?

My goal at the end of my apprenticeship is to achieve the Level 4 CIPS qualification and I hope to be offered a job from my current employer.

A job at the end of an apprenticeship cannot be guaranteed and if this didn't happen, I hope to be able to use my experience, knowledge and new qualification to allow me to get another job within procurement.

I would also like to continue my studies in CIPS and work towards gaining the Level 5 and Level 6 qualification.

What advice can you give to other aspiring apprentices?

If you are considering applying for an apprenticeship I would 100% encourage you to do so. I really struggled with what I wanted to do, but if there are areas of work that interest you or apprenticeships or qualifications that sound interesting, I say just apply.

I think apprenticeships are a great way to give people the chance to put skills and knowledge into practice. There is never any harm in applying for apprenticeships or just asking for more information around the position. If nothing else, the application and interview process is a valuable experience.

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