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ECC: Life as an apprentice

Category: apprenticeships

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Find out more about life as an apprentice at Essex County Council by reading this article with two of our Information Governance Apprentices:

Knowing me, knowing you – Oliver Sharpe and Thomas O’Meara

We catch up with two of our Information Governance Apprentices - Oliver Sharpe and Thomas O’Meara…

Tell us about yourselves?

Oliver – I’m an Apprentice in Democracy and Transparency, working within the Transparency team on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  I started working at Essex County Council (ECC) in May.  Previously, I attended college for two years obtaining an Extended Level 3 Diploma in Business.

Thomas – I’m also an Apprentice within the Transparency team, working on Subject Access Requests (SAR).  I joined ECC in June this year.  Before this, I completed my A-levels in Business Studies, Finance and Computer studies.  I live in Chelmsford with my parents and two brothers.

What do you both do here at ECC?

Oliver – I process all Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environmental Information Requests (EIR).  This involves logging the request and asking the appropriate service area for the information required so I can provide a response.  Once I have received the response from the service area I send the information back to the requestor and publish it on the ECC website.

Thomas – I log Subject Access Requests (SAR) from clients who are asking for their records.  I also conduct file searches to locate, obtain and collate the records.  After all the information we can find has been gathered this is then sent to our officers to look at and after all the necessary steps for security (under GDPR) have been undertaken, I then send it out to the requestor.

What’s the main aim of your roles?

Oliver – We work to statutory deadlines so our main aim is to get information back to the requestor in the set amount of time.  Your help in providing the necessary information quickly ensures ECC meets these timescales.

For FOI/EIR requests the requested information must be sent back to the requester within 20 working days.  The FOI clock does not stop counting down so every day is vital when trying to collate a response.  Therefore, when service areas are able to provide a response quickly, whether or not they hold the relevant information, it is much appreciated.

Thomas – For SAR, once the request has been made active, we will gather the information we have found from Protocol, Mosaic, the Records Management Service and Special Educational Needs.  After this, if deemed not complex, we only have one calendar month under GDPR to disclose the information to the requester.  However, if under the legislation it is deemed complex, we have three months to disclose the information to the client.

What’s the most rewarding part of your jobs?

Oliver – The most rewarding part of my role in managing FOIs is when I send the response to the requestor and they are grateful to receive it.  Knowing that the information we have given may help them is really worthwhile.  Another reward is the qualification and experience I will gain from completing my apprenticeship, which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thomas – The most rewarding part about being involved with SARs is collecting the information that will be passed onto the client.  This is enjoyable because I get a sense of satisfaction once I have done this as it’s important to the client.

When you’re both not at work what are you most likely to be doing?

Oliver- When I am not at work you are most likely to find me in a Nando’s or commentating on a football match like I am a professional coach!  On top of this I go to the gym and go out with my family and friends as often as I can.

Thomas – When I’m not at work I enjoy playing sports including cricket, basketball and golf.  But my favourite sport is football; I have been playing for most of my life and it is something I try to do three times a week.  As well as this I enjoy playing computer games and also spending time with my friends.

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Essex County Council

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