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How a Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science helped Liam find career success

Discover how Liam stepped up his NHS career with a Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science. Ahead of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, Liam shared the programme's positive impact on his personal and professional development.

Liam's story

Liam started his NHS career as a modern apprentice. Later, he got the chance to do a Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science. 

Liam explains why a Graduate Apprenticeship appealed to him: “I decided to apply to do a Graduate Apprenticeship to gain a degree-level qualification while earning a wage and getting valuable work experience at the same time. Compared with full-time study at university, it was the best option for me.”

Liam's story demonstrates the benefits of a Graduate Apprenticeship as a pathway to career success. He developed knowledge and learned new skills on the job. After Liam completed the 4-year programme, he graduated with an honours degree in Data Science from Heriot-Watt University.

The Graduate Apprenticeship helped Liam progress to a new role as an information analyst in the prescribing team at Public Health Scotland.

Liam said: “The best part of my job as an information analyst is seeing the positive impact of my work. It makes me proud to see articles in the media about information requests or publications I’ve worked on.”

Finding the right career pathway

Liam’s best school subjects were Higher Computing and Higher Maths. He then applied to college to do an HND in Computer Networking at SCQF level 8.

Liam told us: “After college, I began searching for a job. I found a Modern Apprenticeship opportunity that required skills I’d learned, including programming. Although the apprenticeship was not directly related to computer networking, I was confident in my abilities and decided to apply.”

Liam’s Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science

After completing a Modern Apprenticeship in Digital Applications, Liam wanted to continue working for the NHS. He progressed to a trainee information analyst role at Public Health Scotland, which included a Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science at SCQF level 10.
Liam explained: “One of the strongest drivers to apply was the flexibility of the job. It was also clear to me that the work would be really interesting."

Liam used powerful analytics tools as a trainee information analyst to analyse and interpret data from various sources. He then produced insights to support better decision-making in health and care services. Liam also compiled and presented important statistics to a broad audience, including stakeholders, partner organisations, and the public.

He said: “As well as programming experience, good communication skills are key to the role. I need to prepare reports and deliver presentations that all can easily understand. Adapting your skills to complete a task is also useful.”

Find out more about the role of an information analyst.

Balancing time between university and the workplace

In the first 3 years, Liam spent 4 days a week at work, which included study time. He also attended university for one day each week. However, Liam's work pattern changed in the final year of the Graduate Apprenticeship. Most of his time was spent on a work-based project on which he also based his dissertation.

Liam said: “It was sometimes difficult to balance full-time work with university study, especially when lots of assignments were due. My colleagues were always really understanding and tried to help me whenever possible.”

Throughout the Graduate Apprenticeship, Liam was supported by his manager, university tutor, and workplace mentor.

Training salary

During the 4-year Graduate Apprenticeship, Liam was paid a training salary, which increased each year. When he successfully completed the programme, his employment contract was made permanent, and he moved to the starting salary of a qualified information analyst.

Personal and professional development

As a trainee information analyst, Liam worked with a wide range of people, including pharmacists, policy advisors, public health specialists, and other information analysts. This helped him build on his communication, leadership, and resilience skills.

During the Graduate Apprenticeship programme, Liam developed his knowledge of analytical and statistical techniques, data management, and information governance procedures. He also became skilled in using analytical tools, such as R, Python, SQL, and IBM SPSS Statistics. 

Liam said: “I’ve gained a lot of personal experience and pride from completing the Graduate Apprenticeship. I’ve also gained an undergraduate degree, which has helped me progress to a more senior role in my workplace and hopefully further in the future.”

Liam’s advice for anyone thinking about doing a Graduate Apprenticeship

For Liam, the Graduate Apprenticeship was worthwhile as it set him on the path to a career as an information analyst at Public Health Scotland.

Reflecting on his apprenticeship experience, Liam said: “Try your best to be organised. It will help you keep on top of your projects, learning, and coursework. Also, try to finish assignments early so you’re not panicking at the last minute with multiple submissions.”

Find out more about our apprenticeship opportunities.

Scotland’s skills generation

Scottish apprenticeships are fuelling Scotland’s skills generation, creating a skilled workforce for now and the future.

Find out how a Graduate Apprenticeship can help you succeed in life and work.

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