Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with M&S's Digital and Data Apprenticeships

The M&S BEAM Academy helps to equip our 65,000 colleagues with the relevant capabilities to play their part in our digital transformation towards being the best omnichannel, digital-first retailer in the world. As part of this learning, the BEAM Academy offer a number of different apprenticeships that are open to all colleagues across the business.

We spoke to Louise Baird who has used her BEAM Academy apprenticeship to help her secure in a career leading our People insights team.

Hey Louise, what’s the name of your apprenticeship?

I’ve actually done two apprenticeships thanks to the M&S BEAM Academy - ‘Level 4 Data Analytics Concepts & Tools’ and ‘Level 7 Data Science & AI’.

What skills did you learn as during your apprenticeships?

I learnt great technical skills like coding from scratch and a number of different data science techniques that are all considered to be advanced analytics.

Predictive analytics, text analysis, SQL and artificial intelligence models are all things I’ve learnt through my two apprenticeships. I’ve also had a chance to develop soft skills with the help of my data mentors, which has been just as beneficial to my career as the technical skills.  

Why did you originally decide to take on these apprenticeships?

I was looking at how I could broaden my skillset to develop my capability and help make my skills more ‘fit for the future of work’. The Level 4 apprenticeship seemed like something really cutting edge that could help me do that.

How does M&S support you through you while you’re studying for your apprenticeship? Having a supportive line manager is key to help you get through an apprenticeship successfully and I’ve been fortunate to have had those during my apprenticeships with M&S. The business allows you 20% of your working week to complete apprenticeship work and your network are always helping you to think about how you can apply the skills you’re learning in your day job. One of the main benefits of this learning is being able to give back to the business through the work that you do.

How did you balance work and learning with your apprenticeship?

It was sometimes a challenge! You need to have good time management skills and a commitment to individual learning, but flexibility was the main skill to help me balance both of these elements.

What would you say to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship?

DO IT!! Not only do I now have a whole arsenal of additional skills I’ve learnt but I have two qualifications to my name and a new career that I’ve been able to transition into as a direct result of obtaining these skills. Apprenticeships can be tough, they’re over a long time period so are definitely a commitment, but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

Learn more about the M&S BEAM Academy here.

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