James's Story

James at his desk in the Solicitor's Office

I work as an Office Administratorin the Solicitors Office. I’m 21 years old and have just moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh. Outside of work I like to follow my football team around the country and, when given the opportunity, around Europe. I love going to concerts, buying new vinyl records and Adidas trainers.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at the Scottish Parliament?

In my last year at school I had to decide what to do after I left. I went to college, but I quickly realised it wasn’t for me and I was unsure what the next steps in my career path would be. 

Around this time it was the lead up to the independence referendum. Everyone in Scotland appeared to be speaking about it. While volunteering with a youth work charity, I was engaging with a variety of different people and we were having the same conversation. I soon realised that I could talk to people from all walks of life about such a serious issue and sometimes the people I was talking to suggested I should think about something with a public dimension as a career prospect. After the referendum was over and everything went back to normal I began to think about what people were saying to me about what to do with my career.

I haven't had the most academic background and the thought of the Parliament or politics was never a realistic prospect in my mind. That changed following the referendum when I received an email with a link to the launch of the Parliament’s Apprenticeship Programme. I was unsure what my chances were,  but I thought I'd read it anyway out of curiosity. When I read the website and watched all of the videos it was almost a lightbulb moment because I then believed that I was capable of doing the programme.

James at a meeting in the Garden Lobby

What's a typical day like for you?

A typical day in Legal is different because you can’t fully plan your working day or week. Most of my duties are to support the office manager, the group head and the solicitors. I ensure that they have copies of previous bills, subordinate legislation and the Parliament’s Standing Orders. Part of my role is to process and record Scottish Statutory Instruments and Bills that are laid before the Parliament. A large part of my day is taken up maintaining the group head’s mailbox and her busy diary while also dealing with phone calls.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

Do it, because I almost never applied and I’m now writing this in a permanent post with the Parliament, which I never ever thought would have been possible!  I also think that employers are moving beyond a focus on purely academic credentials. It’s not just about how many highers or degrees you have or what you have on paper - it’s about you as a person and whether you’re capable of doing the job and have a willingness to learn.

What’s been the highlight so far?

I have three! The first is that I actually applied to begin with. I was very happy to see my application progress from submitting it all the way to being invited to the interview stage and then ultimately being successful.

My second was a project organised by HR where we were split into teams and had to come up with an idea to improve an aspect of the Parliament. It was very satisfying to see that the Parliament chose to implement our idea.

The third was completing my apprenticeship. Being offered a full time post with the Parliament has been the biggest achievement of my life to date. It has also enabled me to progress as a person outside of work. For example, I have now moved from Glasgow, which required a commute of more than two hours every day to work, to staying in Leith in Edinburgh. To others this may not seem like such a big step but for me, being from a council scheme in Glasgow, it has always been an underlying desire to move and secure a full time post. The apprenticeship programme has really given me the backing to achieve this.

Gary, Assistant Clerk, Committee Office

Gary at his desk 

"It’s a cliché, but every day is different in Committee Office.  Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about sitting at a desk, typing out documents; so much of my job relies on meeting and speaking with colleagues, Scottish Government officials and those interested in our work to ensure that the Committee’s voice is heard and acted upon." Find out more about a day in the life for Gary 

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