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Saira Lawson-Brown of John Lewis Partnership is our very first HR apprentice to receive the accolade of candidate of the quarter!

Reed Learning’s Candidate of the Quarter recognises the hard work and personal dedication of individuals who go the extra mile to become CIPD qualified. Saira, who is a Redeployment Co-ordinator in John Lewis Partnership’s Head Office in Bracknell, perfectly portrays what the award is all about.

Despite facing the challenge of being numerically dyslexic, Saira manages to successfully juggle her CIPD studies with a busy job whilst being a carer for her disabled mother. Already half way through her Level 3 HR Apprenticeship with two units in the bag and one well underway, Saira is on target to complete the programme next May.

"I am passionate about HR and so I am really enjoying the apprenticeship programme. The tasks and assignments are all very relatable to my job and so I can apply the new knowledge I learn on the programme to my role at work,” she explains, adding, “plus, I can really see the added value of gaining the CIPD qualification.

Saira’s HR apprenticeship combines her role at JLP with a mix of learning activities including workshops, webinars, one-to-one meetings with a Reed Learning expert adviser, plus 24/7 access to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). All apprenticeship schemes allow for 20 per cent off-the-job training and Saira is able to study one day a week from home.

“I love the workshops with Reed Learning,” Saira continues. “They really do set the foundation for the assignment and I find them very useful. Dee Gemmell is my personal adviser and she is brilliant. Her no-nonsense approach just suits me right down to the ground.”

An important requirement of any apprenticeship is for candidates to suggest ways to improve the business, something according to her manager Petra McDowell Finn, Partner & Redeployment Functional Lead at JLP, Saira regularly achieves.

“Saira has always had strong values, that is what drew her to join JLP, but since starting her apprenticeship her ability to balance opposing views has increased and she has grown in confidence,” Petra explains.

“Her engagement with the organisation as a whole has increased, she now actively strives to change things that go against our shared principles as well as looking for ways to improve the business and reduce cost – a great example would be her paper proposing introduction of a mobility clause.

“She has adapted brilliantly to returning to a more structured type of learning and her tenacity means I am sure she will continue to thrive and keep improving her contribution to the business,” she adds.

Saira’s apprenticeship runs for two years during which she will work with her line manager to receive a great grounding in all the HR basics. At the end of the scheme she will be awarded a Level 3 HR Apprenticeship, which includes a CIPD Foundation Certificate in Human Resource Practice along with Associate Membership of the CIPD.

“My advice to anyone thinking about starting an apprenticeship in HR is it’s a fantastic opportunity so just do it! Yes it is hard work but anything that is hard work is usually worth the effort. It has already brought a deeper knowledge and understanding to my work and I think it gives purpose and reason to what I’m doing. Ultimately it will give me increased earning power,” she adds.

A RoATP provider since January 2018, Reed Learning is successfully delivering Levels 3 and 5 HR and L&D apprenticeship programmes to cohorts from levy paying organisations and in collaboration with other training providers. We recently extended the initiative to individuals in response to demand from companies that have HR and L&D apprentices to train but not in sufficient numbers to have their own in-house programme.