Neil Barnes is a Commercial Manager at Transport for London. He had been working in this role for 12 months before being signed up for a Commercial Procurement & Supply – Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship at Capital City College Training.
He recently passed his apprenticeship and, although parts of TfL’s network have shut down due to the Coronavirus lockdown, he is still working full-time at TfL on a number of projects. We connected virtually with him to discuss his role and his apprenticeship.
Neil had previously spent 10 years working in the private sector, for Xerox UK Ltd. Wanting a change in scenery, and a new challenge, Neil joined TfL in 2016 and expanded his potential by taking on the Level 4 Apprenticeship.
The work of procurement and supply chain professionals include the process of procurement, or buying goods and services; however, these roles can be much broader than just procurement, they can extend to a huge range of related commercial activity such as influencing policy, financial analysis, engaging in contract law, and developing strategy to deliver services.
Starting in September 2018, Neil had completed his two-year apprenticeship by January 2020, well ahead of schedule. Neil was part of the first CCCT cohort for this apprenticeship and said: “Studying at college one day a week, with structured learning, was great. It worked for me, I liked it.
“By studying at CCCT I was able to successfully complete my apprenticeship, achieving distinctions in 4 out of 5 exams. Furthermore I was successful in completing the full apprenticeship in just 16 months. Having been one of the first groups to undertake the new End Point Assessment project and interview stages of the apprenticeship, completion of the apprenticeship within just 16 months feels like a significant achievement, and one I am very proud of.
“Studying out of the King’s Cross Centre, I had access to great facilities, and even better teaching and support staff who were always on hand to help, whether in person, or via email/phone. The staff were extremely experienced and knowledgeable, and held classes in an easy to follow and digestible manner. The support staff similarly were always on hand to offer advice on best practice, Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply membership renewals, exam bookings etc.
“Our class was full of different people, some from TfL, some straight out of school, some from other companies operating in different industries and/or sectors. This meant that the classroom produced lots of differing opinions and viewpoints which you wouldn’t get if you were self-studying. We had a good mix of people.
“Since completing the apprenticeship, I have been able to take on more responsibilities within my role, developing my strategies and the way in which I work, to extract greater value and achieve the targets set by senior management”