NAW 2017 case study: Michael Bliss, Cost Analyst, Level 3 Communications


After completing the first year of a math’s degree, Michael decided it wasn’t giving him the learning opportunities he needed. Researching his options, he realised that an apprenticeship could give him on the job training and put his skills into practice. He set his sights on engineering, seeking advice from professionals in the field.
“I finally came across the apprenticeship through the ITP” explains Michael. “I had some concerns in the earlier stages that I would not be taken seriously while working and having ‘Apprentice’ as my title. This soon changed however when I started to produce the same results as permanent, long-term employees.”

Michael’s role has expanded a lot since he first joined, and he is often given new challenges to handle such as acting as interim lead for key projects and coordinating the team whilst his manager was on leave.  Another highlight has been getting involved in project managing site exits for rehoming customer services, which involved over 130 customers with 200+ circuits needing rehoming. “These projects are critical, due to strict deadlines to ensure customers do not lose their service as this affects delicate customers such as prisons.”

At the start of the apprenticeship process, Michael was assigned a mentor to help him settle into the company and this became a pivotal moment in his development. “I was very lucky that my mentor is my senior director in the area of the company I’m in. On my first mentor meeting it was explained to me that what he liked most to see in his employees is the ability to be proactive. He didn’t want his team sat waiting for something to happen but for them to go out find the answers, results, contacts or whatever it may have been.

I believe this was perfect for me to hear as it meant that I was actively looking to improve the company and was serious about what I was doing rather than in a job for pocket money. I tried to use this approach in everything I did at work and even started to rub off in my personal life meaning that I wasn’t reliant on others to do things for me, but I would do it myself. The advice helped me to become self-efficient.”

The experience has helped Michael in developing his self-confidence. Before joining he admits he had a fear of presenting but took the initiative to participate on a presentation skills training, which ultimately resulted in him presenting to the VP of Operations and his leadership team on the Level 3 apprenticeship scheme. “This was a unique experience and made me want to try new things I would not have attempted before on my own, such as volunteering outside of work.”

“I would strongly advise young people to consider apprenticeships. I believe they are what you make of them, if you put the hard work in you will seek your rewards.  I guess the advice I’m trying to give is to seek as much opportunities that you can! Identify areas where you can improve, and don’t let anything get in your way or stop you. I was lucky in that my manager was happy for me to apply my ideas and techniques with the team and gave me the time and opportunity to develop.”

Michael recently won
the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals SME Apprentice of the Year Award, which recognises outstanding contribution made to the industry.


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