Empowering Through Data: The Data Practitioners Network Unveiled

In the heart of our local authority, a new chapter is unfolding—one of empowerment, collaboration, and the boundless possibilities of data. Enter the Data Practitioners Network, a dynamic community woven together by the diverse threads of our local workforce. This isn’t just a network; it’s a living narrative, a story penned by those who navigate the intricate realms of data in service to our community of residents.

Each month, a virtual room opens, welcoming participants to a space where data knowledge takes centre stage. From foundational concepts to advanced tools, the workshops offered are like chapters, unveiling the ways in which we can embrace data in a language accessible to all. This isn’t just a community space; it’s a collaboration where every participant plays a vital role.

Amid the participants, there is a theme of learning and engagement. With regular feedback, we have learnt that participants have; “Learnt something new!” and have found the sessions “Very informative and easy to follow.” These testimonials are more than feedback; they’re the voices of our workforce, contributing to a community story that values every perspective.

At the heart of this tale lies a commitment to inclusivity. The Data Practitioners Network is more than a community; it’s a narrative that recognises that diverse experiences within our local authority enrich our collective understanding. Here, in this unfolding story, everyone, regardless of their data prowess, finds a place to learn, share, and contribute. It’s a story of monthly events, where connections are forged, knowledge is shared, and the transformative power of data is unlocked on behalf of our community.

The Data Practitioners Network is marked by diversity, inclusion, and a collective vision for our data futures. As the London Borough of Hounslow evolves, residents and the public are invited to witness, engage, and be part of the empowering journey that data brings to our community. And so, the tale of empowerment continues, ever-evolving, ever-inspiring.

If you’d like to learn more about the Data Practitioners Network, reach out to us using this link: https://forms.office.com/e/hdRnXEg5PP

Digital Team Goes Green For Nature! by Siobhan Neligan

Hounslow Council offers its employees two volunteering days each year to undertake charitable initiatives in the wider community so, on Tuesday 7th November, members of Hounslow’s Digital and IT team donned their gardening gloves and wielded their gardening tools to build nature habitats in the borough’s beautiful Syon Park.

In support of our strategic objective to deliver a greener Hounslow, the activities were led and organised by Digital Learning and Innovation Analyst, Adrian Griffee, who is also a seasoned conservationist. In his spare time, Adrian volunteers with a conservation group at sites across Southwest London, planting trees, managing invasive species, and promoting biodiversity. Adrian liaised with the grounds management team at the charity responsible for preserving Syon Park, who provided their advice and approval for the activity.


Pictured on site, left-right: Siobhan Neligan, Business Relationship Manager; Joyce Manangan, IT Commercial Team Leader; Simon Klee, Strategic Relationship and Engagement Manager; Mukhtiar Gill, Data Quality Analyst; Nicholas McCarthy, Head of Digital Services; Dione Harrington, Data Quality Analyst; Weronika Stelmaszyk, Data Quality Analyst; Anna Trichkine, Data Quality Lead.

Despite the November climate, and after the recent storms, it was a crisp autumn day and the sun’s rays lit up the stunning landscape of Syon Park. The famed park is host to a variety of valuable local amenities, including the Grade I listed Syon House, historic home to the Duke of Northumberland. The site hosts a popular garden centre, conservatory, arboretum, café, luxury hotel, and events venue which all contribute to the thriving local economy, history, and culture.

Syon Park is widely renowned for its 100 acres of landscaped parkland, designed by Capability Brown in the eighteenth century. Its grounds are a haven for nature and wildlife, with natural features including lakes, ancient trees, and scenic walking routes, all conveniently nestled within the bustling borough of Hounslow and overlooking the majestic river Thames. Syon Park is also home to Tide Meadow, 40 acres of tall grass washland, which is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

During a busy day of activity, the team split into two smaller groups to dig two large holes through turf and London clay soil, to form the basis of a habitat for stag beetles, insects, and other wildlife. The holes must be dug wide and deep enough to accommodate lengths of wood to be covered by the ground, to enable to decomposition process to take place. The team here demonstrated the vital depth of the foundations, at around 2 feet deep.

Pictured left-right: Nicholas McCarthy, Head of Digital Services; Simon Klee, Strategic Relationship and Engagement Manager; Hovik Avedian, Application Analyst; Siobhan Neligan, Business Relationship Manager; Joyce Manangan, IT Commercial Team Leader; Mukhtiar Gill, Data Quality Analyst; Weronika Stelmaszyk, Data Quality Analyst; Dione Harrington, Data Quality Analyst; Anna Trichkine, Data Quality Lead.

Once the foundations were in place, the next task was to carefully assemble variously sized logs in the holes, to create a pyramid structure of wood that will eventually decay during winter, covered by turf, twigs and soil. The gaps that begin to form within the decayed wood, protected from the elements and predators, become a thriving home for invertebrates and fungi – essential for local biodiversity.

One of the rarest and most important insects that it is hoped will take up residence in the newly created habitats is the stag beetle. Though they can be found across London’s parkland, stag beetles are a protected species, and are in steep decline across Europe. They are also the UK’s largest terrestrial beetle, and whilst their antler-shaped jaws may look fierce, they are harmless to humans. Their larvae develop underground in rotting wood for several years, and they emerge during the summer mating season, when they wield their powerful jaws to wrestle for partners. If you are fortunate enough to spot one, the London Wildlife Trust encourages you to report the sighting, so that accurate records of their existence can be kept. Stag Beetle Campaign | London Wildlife Trust (wildlondon.org.uk)

And at last… the finished habitats! Note the way the natural materials blend seamlessly into the environment. The grass will eventually grow back to reclaim the ground around the habitats, which will be a lasting refuge for insects and wildlife.

The team really valued the opportunity to get out into Hounslow’s great outdoors and work together on a small project that will ultimately play an important role in conserving local flora and fauna. It’s all part of our vision to collaborate towards a greener Hounslow.

Hounslow Gets Digital by James Carroll

Last month I had my first experience of Hounslow Gets Digital, having started working for LBH the week after the first event in March.  Even though I have been involved in the planning and organising of the event (and therefore very biased!) I can honestly say that the event was a great success! We brought together a coalition of partners from the charity, corporate and council worlds, with the joint aim of supporting residents on their journey in the digital world.

Many who attended received 1 on 1 tech support by one of the Digital Champions, local volunteers who play a primary role in upskilling Hounslow’s residents through our weekly Digital Drop-in’s.

To date the Champions have provided foundational tailored digital skills training to over 240 residents.

In recent weeks the number of Champions has grown to 19. More Champions means more digital support for residents, and we are in the process of increasing the number of Digital Drop-in’s across the borough from 6 to 9 by this September.

Residents also came to the event to collect their own laptop from our charity partner Our Barn. By providing laptops to eligible residents who cannot afford one, we are able to ensure that digital learning can continue at home. One resident told me the day was “Fantastic!” as they picked up their own laptop.

It was also really powerful to see residents talking to the Digital Champions about their volunteer role. One local resident discovered the event whilst he was visiting Hounslow House to use the first-floor library. After speaking to one of our Digital Champions on site, he signed up and has since attended our new and improved training course and is now volunteering in Digital Drop-ins in Hounslow House and Feltham.

I caught up with this resident after his first day of volunteering and he told me how happy he was to have “found this wonderful opportunity through Hounslow Gets Digital, a platform that connects individuals with meaningful projects and initiatives in the digital realm. Their commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives resonated with me, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”

Our Digital Champions are provided with a wraparound support package that includes employability support from our Work Hounslow Team. Another of our Champions, Rhys, who is in his final year of school has recently landed an apprenticeship offer with a tech firm.

Rhys claimed that “This all thanks to the great opportunity of being a Digital Champion which came at the perfect time.”​

To enhance the second edition of Hounslow Gets Digital, we invited Emma from ThreeDiscovery to deliver two group workshops: Staying Safe Online and Digital Photography. Emma taught residents about tips and tricks on how to keep your devices safe and how to take and edit the best pictures using their smartphones.

I have had the pleasure of working with Emma and the Discovery team in my previous role and have seen how transformative their sessions have been for people. Over the coming months my team will be working with partners such as ThreeDiscovery to create a timetable of group digital skill sessions for residents. These sessions aim to offer training in several key digital areas and provide a pathway of encouragement to the longer structured digital courses delivered by Adult Education.  

It was also really inspiring to see the entire Digital Adoption and Inclusion Team at the event providing advice and guidance on areas such as social broadband tariffs, online safety, and health apps. Since the Digital Commitment was created, the team have been working hard both behind the scenes to set up programmes and on the front line to help deliver them.

I believe it is crucial that we are out there with the residents and teams that support them. Having this interaction enables us to better understand the needs of residents as well as develop professional relations with them. We are developing a community of learners who are seeking to improve their lives. Once you develop the community, then you can teach the skills.

We will be running these Hounslow Gets Digital events every quarter with the next one planned for coincide with The Good Things Foundation Get Online Week running from 16 to 22 October. As we grow our offer, we will continue to utilise Hounslow Gets Digital as a springboard to drive up digital inclusion in the borough.

“I would like to thank all those who took part in the event!”

Hounslow Gets Digital would like to thank all those who took part in the event. Delivery partners include: ThreeDiscovery, Our Barn, Seniors Trust, Community Solutions, Digital Champions and the Digital Adoption and Inclusion Team.

The importance of Data Storytelling

In the age of big data, it’s not enough to simply collect and analyse data – you need to be able to effectively communicate your findings as well.

That’s where data storytelling comes in.

Data storytelling is a concept that you define in a simple way of complex data analytics aiming and informing a target audience. This practice has gained popularity in recent years as a means of engaging and informing audiences through interactive graphics and narratives.

Data Storytelling in Local Government Authority has been particularly effective in presenting complex data to its residents, helping residents understand important information and improving transparency between government functions and the public. To effectively communicate data insights, data storytelling techniques help to create a compelling and easy-to-understand narrative supported by engaging data visualisations.

Data Storytelling is a natural form of passing information, as it engages with the audience and stimulates their attention through emotions. This approach is particularly effective in conveying information that would otherwise be difficult to understand through raw statistics or technical reports. It is a crucial skill for any data professional or organisation that wants to effectively communicate insights and facilitate better decision-making based on their findings.

How to process information in 6 steps?

Ensuring setting clear objectives is the first step in the data storytelling process. Next, what and how data must be collected and analysed using appropriate tools. Once the data is analysed, it’s time to identify key insights and develop a clear and compelling narrative that supports those points.

image highlighting 6 steps of data storytelling process
Source: LBH Self-Designed

6 common mistakes to avoid?

There are several common mistakes to avoid when implementing data storytelling practices, including:

  1. Picking up a wrong chart, for i.e., 3D charts look great but not easy to read or interpret.
  2. Incorrect use of colour correlation, for i.e., using low contrast colours or colours that are too similar, can make it difficult for viewers to distinguish between data points, categories, or trends.
  3. Missing out supporting guidance, labels, or tips alongside visual segments
  4. Too many data visuals in a small dashboard space.
  5. Ignoring accessibility standards when selecting colours or font sizes in data storytelling can have a detrimental impact on the inclusivity and usability of the visualisations. For i.e., Ignoring colour contrast guidelines can make it difficult for individuals with low vision or colour blindness to interpret the information.
  6. Not aware on audience needs and their expectations.
image highlighting 6 common mistake in data storytelling.
Source: LBH Self-Designed

Few Good and Bad Examples

image highlighting 4 example of data storytelling good and bad practices
Source: LBH Self-Designed

Further takeaway points for you

Inspiring our future generation of technicians and engineers

Our children are our future councillors, business leaders, innovators and so much more but how do inspire them to think about jobs in engineering & technology when the terms alone are so abstract? Thankfully, for this very reason, TeenTech exists to ‘help young people understand the opportunities in the science, technology and engineering industries, no matter what their gender or social background

I was invited along as a business ambassador to represent London Borough of Hounslow at a recent TeenTech event at Roehampton University (they run these all over the country) and my role for the day was to support the teacher and help inspire their cohort of students. I was assigned to a group of 8 Key Stage 3 children (Year 7 = 11/12 years old) from Twickenham School who, it is fair to say, were not sure why they were there but were curious nonetheless, having found out two days prior that they had been selected to attend.

The day began with a vote asking the students whether they had any interest in working in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) arena and the responses were low. Following a day of engaging, exciting and interesting sessions that brought these to life the responses at the end of the day were much higher. Each cohort of students had a slightly different schedule, so they got to see different presentations and the group I was with got to experience:

  • Adding voiceovers/dubbing and foley sounds in the university film sound studio
  • Mind-bending physics showing how poor the human mind is at judging weight and volume, courtesy of the National Physics Laboratory
  • A talk from Queen Mary’s University on hacking (with a funky, hacked Teddy Bear that controls room access (with a card reader in one foot and speaker in another) and alerts you to intruders i.e. that pesky younger brother or sister, to stop them going through your room, through flashing eyes and a digital display on which to project your warning message!
  • A talk and demonstration on space flight and fuel from Dallas Campbell and a demonstration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning from Amazon’s Space Dept. which focuses on satellite launches and maintenance, particularly using them to monitor and react to emergency situations e.g.
    • Using satellite images to learn about environmental matters so when a volcano began to erupt satellite images were captured and the system was able to present a picture of where the issue was but also to recommend where best to evacuate people from as it had learnt how to track which way the volcanic smoke was heading – amazing.

The students had also been set a group task to be completed before the event which was to create a building of the future and to really think outside of the constraints of everyday thought; what technology would help? What innovative ideas could inspire new products for the future (I am not sure how practical the chicken-cloner idea is!); who would it help and how – then they had to make a model of it.

The creativity, thoughtfulness and intelligence of these students was so inspiring as they integrated renewable energy and accessibility without a second thought but were striving to find other ways to provide the best for others. To see these younger children getting so involved and thinking things through so thoughtfully and carefully shows that their future is in the right hands.

Finally, some food for thought for us as a council and thinking of these students as future residents, business owners and even councillors: one of the questions they were asked was ‘Where does your town or city need to make the most improvements?’ and the response was significant with over a quarter of the students stating Crime Prevention as most important to them as you can see here:

Graph showing student responses to the question 'Where does your town or city need to make the most improvements' with responses:
27% Crime Prevention
20% Education
13% Sports provision
13% Parks and Open Spaces
7% Transport
6% Entertainment Provision (cinemas etc.)
5% Cultural Activities (Theatres, Museums, Concerts etc.)
4% Youth Centres

Digital inclusion in Hounslow during 2022

I wrote this blog back in November 2021 Digital Inclusion in Hounslow – Hounslow.Digital and given the cost of living pressures we are all under wanted to go back and see what we have achieved and what more we need to do. 

With Digital Inclusion we need to deliver the hat trick of connectivity/devices/learning so have been reviewing progress with this in mind. We now have increased resources in this area to drive the work forward and the Digital Inclusion Commitment was approved in October 2022 Year Two update of Hounslow.Digital Digital Strategy – 2020-25 – Appendix 1 – Digital Inclusion Comm.pdf . We have KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) we report back to Directors on quarterly basis. All the work across Council is coordinated through the Digital Inclusion Group which includes colleagues and partners alike. 

More detailed information on digital inclusion in Hounslow here Digital Exclusion | Hounslow | Report Builder for ArcGIS. 

We will continue to work with Loti colleagues on Digital Inclusion Innovation Programme – LOTI /Get Online London – LOTI to ensure consistency continues to be built across London. 

Connectivity 

We are rolling out better connections to our Council sites with new fibre connections – some as part of a grant from TFL (Transport for London) for the sites harder to reach alongside making it easier for all to get online and provide better facilities as part of the Council’s warm spaces work Warm Spaces | London Borough of Hounslow. 

This time last year we had signed wayleave agreements with Community Fibre and Hyperopic. Since then, we have signed with OpenReach, and Community Fibre have finished their rollout to Council flats (Community Fibre’s £6 million broadband investment ensures Hounslow’s communities are connected | London Borough of Hounslow).  

The annual Ofcom report on connectivity has come out this week based on info from Sept 22 (Interactive report – Ofcom). Whilst it is not as current as the information from sites such as thinkbroadband which are updated regularly it provides a great snapshot and reporting to reflect on progress over the last year. 

The report shows the good trend in Hounslow continues – in Sept 21 were 1716 premises with poor broadband based on Ofcom definition as at Sept 22 were down to 799. 

Premises with Fibre broadband in Hounslow were 11519 in Sept 21 in Sept 22 up to 33478. 

So, some substantial progress here but lots more than needs to be done in 2023 and plans are in place for this including promotion of social tariffs and the social value offerings from suppliers as take up continues to be slow across all operators. 

Devices

Our aim last year was to recycle 700 devices per year, we have completed 1300 since 2020. 

For 2023 we are aiming for 1000 devices to be recycled working with in partnership with Our Barn Community – Home alongside our Community Solutions colleagues and have the plan and resources in place to do so. 

Learning  

Adult Education continue to have great courses for digital skills – more information here Hounslow Adult and Community Education – Adult Courses (hace.ac.uk). 

We are working to recruit Digital Champions with our partners – if you are interested in this please send an email to getonline@hounslow.gov.uk. 

We also had our Digital Festival during November with lots of opportunities for all to get training along with the continued free access to sites such as this: Make It Click (learnmyway.com) 

So, overall, a lot done with lots of fantastic partners over the last year with lots more planned to continue in 2023 to ensure we maintain the great progress made over the last 2 years. 

Getting back to the office 

At Hounslow we are starting to get back to to more regular ways of working as part of the hybrid approach. For me 2 days a week in the office is great so hasn’t changed for me too much as I was in at least 2 days throughout the various lockdowns. Some weeks will see more in Hounslow in line with what is needed by the business.  

We have the colleague conference at Hounslow 2nd to 4th November and our Digital Festival starting from 1st November, which for the first time will be a mixture of in person and virtual. This gives us an opportunity to rebuild connections and continue to meet colleagues and partners who we have only met virtually to date.  

Tidy Fridays 

I didn’t come into the office for one of the Tidy Fridays we are having to declutter offices to make the environment tidier for all as we start to reimagine the space we use. As a result Brucie and the Chuckle Brothers have left the building, we got them during lockdown as a light reminder of a serious message. Colleagues used to say find Brucie and you find Digital so we are thinking how best to signpost our area as we don’t put up posters etc in Hounslow House. 

Reflecting on challenges ahead  

I have some time off now – there is so much to do but so important to take a break from work and focus on family and friends and recharge the batteries. So much great work we will be doing before Christmas so need the rest to be able to move stuff on at pace such as contiinuing our device refresh at 800-900 per year, updating our sites away from Hounslow House to bring them up to date and all the work on connectivity. In the day job the team deals with an average 2600 calls per month for both faults and requests.

We have the updated Digital Strategy and Digital Inclusion Commitment going to Cabinet 18th October for approval – more to follow then as well as some exciting news around our broadband rollout with partners but I cant spoil the surprise yet!

It’s Christmas time  

Did the weekly video update in Director’s absence – got the Christmas jumper out and pleased to say the lights still worked though couldn’t capture it in a video still! 

Digital life hacks

Those tricks you love to make life easy

We hope some of the following tips will make your life easier in the digital space

  1. Cut & paste, if find yourself using Ctrl-V (keyboard option) to paste last clipped item, take a look at Win-V instead and be very surprised (scroll up and down to see what is available).
  2. Changing case of a word – toggle between UPPER/lower/Title case using Shift+F3 or Shift+Fn+F3 depending on keyboard.
  3. Scanning – save the hassle of buying a document scanner – use your phone – a number of options available:
    1. Microsoft lens app – capture a range of document including white boards, includes options to straighten and colour correct.
    2. Use Notes app to scan text or document – eg open notes>create new  note>click on camera and choose scan document to get PDF or scan text to OCR your document
  4. Editing text on iPhone – struggle with moving the cursor to correct your text – then press and hold the space bar and slide your finger on space bar and move the cursor so can easily correct your message.
  5. In Google you can type a math question in the search tab like 5 x 5 and it’ll give you the answer and open a calculator for you.
  6. In Google you can convert currency, for example type 50USD to GBP and it’ll do the conversion at the current exchange rate.
  7. At home or on your mobile, if you want to check if a website has any dangerous or malicious content like stealing your credentials, you can search for it here and see a report: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search
  8. If you receive a scam SMS, forward it to 7726 so your provider can take a look and block the sender’s phone number.  If there’s a website listed in the SMS, don’t visit the site but do copy the website address into a new email and send it to report@phishing.gov.uk.  You’ll protect yourself and probably thousands of others from being defrauded, potentially out of their life savings.

Check back for more tips from the Digital & IT team

Exploring Hounslow in forms of a Scavenger Hunt

There are many ways to do team bonding exercises for your team for example building spaghetti houses, or debates. However one of my colleagues thought outside the box and decided to exercise us all to venture out into the borough and take part in a scavenger hunt.

Myself including my team were kept in the dark about the event until the day and had no idea how the day would pan out. We had a meeting point on the 6th floor to have the rules explained to us and then also split into two teams: team savage (I was in that team) and team ramblers.

We all got handed these mysterious brown envelopes which felt like it includes some sort of top-secret mission inside. Funnily enough, pulled out the piece of paper inside and the scavenger hunt guide was titled ‘WELCOME TO THE FIRST, BEST AND POSSIBLY THE ONLY GREAT HOUNSLOW BOROUGH COUNCIL TEAM DATA SCAVENGER HUNT’

This followed by some instructions which said we had two hours and that some of the clues are relatively straight forward and that we need to take photos with our phones of what we think is in relation to that clue. Bear in mind that we have to put ourselves into our colleagues’ shoes or more like her brain. We all seemed clueless looking at these clues!

Here are the ‘targets’ below:

TARGETS

1. A photo of your team – as original as possible, please!

2. A photo of the other team taking a photo of a target.

3. 100021547143

4. Gules three Seaxes fessewise in pale proper pommelled and hilted Or points to the sinister and cutting edge upwards in chief a Saxon Crown of the last

5. Streetlife

6. They would not listen, they’re not listening still, perhaps they never will.

7. Wildlife

8. HS6

9. A sarsen stone

10. A replacement for a victim of arson

11. Best.froth.anyway

12. Beauty in ugliness

13. A barber / hairdresser

14. Shiny Shiny Sheppard Robson

15. A memorial

16. A pre-2000 phone number

17. 3132071

18. Is it all going for a Burton? Do you need a little Xtra help?

19. It tolls for thee.

20. Write a Hounslow-inspired limerick.

So fair enough there are some simple clues such as barber/hairdresser, but I had no idea what most of these clues meant. Thank goodness I wasn’t on my own and was in a team where we could figure out what these all meant – also, we were allowed to use Google! Hooray! (-:

All the while, our colleague who created the scavenger hunt was walking around Hounslow trying to find us and take photos of us looking absolutely confused… Team Savage below:

At first, we didn’t know the area range of these clues, but most seemed to span out across the Hounslow High Street. We found out that one of the clues ended up at the Air Quality HS6 in Heston which is a half hour walk away – team Ramblers found their way there!

There were some clues in relation to our project work as well (air quality being one of them), such as 3132071 which is Grove Road Primary School. If there was no context to this photo, it would look weird to take it in front of the school’s sign BUT here is a lovely photo of others in the Data Quality and Science team, Team Ramblers:

This day proved to be such a great learning experience. I have lived in the borough for about 13 years now and have learnt more in a day about the history of our borough than the last 13 years! It really opened my eyes and made me appreciate our culture.

I’m hoping this provides some inspiration for other teams to explore Hounslow in another set of eyes and really get to know the borough.

My highlight of the hunt was spending time with my colleagues, visiting the Sarson stone and the painted house of Vincent Van Gogh.

Photos of the answers

Below is the photos of the answers to the scavenger hunt! Have a crack at it and try and pair these photos yourself with the targets.

Thanks all for reading. If you do plan your own scavenger hunt, let me know how it went and even post your own blog post for us to all read about!

My First 3 Months as a Cyber Security Apprentice

Short Background

I’ve been interested in technology my whole life, did ICT for GCSEs and A levels. I then did a level 3 infrastructure technician apprenticeship. I knew I wanted to go into cyber security from the very beginning. It’s worth mentioning that the only experience in the IT industry I ever had was IT support.


Prior to the apprenticeship, I was a Kali Linux user going through a myriad of free YouTube hacking courses, as well as some paid Udemy ones. However, I did not have structure to what I was learning. The main problem with this was I was missing the networking aspect needed to fully comprehend and appreciate hacking for what it is.

The Apprenticeship

Doing an apprenticeship, you have an employer as well as a separate training provider who focuses on your training program giving the whole learning experience structure and organisation.

The apprenticeship is 24 months long and roughly every 3-4 months I will be going to a training facility to complete the following modules. They range between 3-4 consecutive study days where I am off work.

  • CompTIA Network+
  • Cyber Introduction
  • Python Fundamentals
  • CompTIA Security +
  • EC-Council Certified Network Defender

It is worth pointing out that these modules are mandatory to complete the apprenticeship and you do not need to do any exams to gain the Level 4 qualification. 

Exams are not the only thing I need to work towards. I am also provided with certain criteria to pass the apprenticeship. This must be evidenced in the coursework I provide, which will be assessed at the end by an third-party assessor. With that being said, the apprenticeship is structured so that out of the X amount of contracted hours; 20% of them need to be ‘off the job’ time. Time I need to spend revising and doing coursework.

I have 2 mentors, one from Hounslow and one from the training provider. These 2 mentors co-operate to make sure that I meet all the criteria to pass.

Responsibilities

In my current role, I am still slowly gaining access to all the tools I need to do all aspects of my work.  So far I got the responsibility to manage the request queue as well as access to some of the cyber sec tools. I have got the opportunity to shadow people on site, which included getting an inside look at the infrastructure etc. I am also engaging myself with colleagues from other departments as well as senior members of the council. It is a very interesting experience to see how an organisation such as a council works from the inside. I never really thought about how all different sectors need to cooperate in order for the council to be fully functional.

The Team

Before I started working, I thought that the cyber security industry will be very serious and only work-oriented, which I was mentally prepared for. To my surprise, the team knows when to be serious and when to have a laugh, which I really appreciate. On a daily basis I get positive influence from very knowledgeable people about cyber sec, but not only cyber sec.

I tend to ask a lot of questions, as I like to fully understand everything I am involved with. So far there wasn’t a time where anyone asked didn’t have a very good answer to any of them.

Overall Hounslow is a great place to work at. The company is full of nice genuine people that want to do something good for the community. What better personal qualities would anyone rather be around?