In early 2020, a group of like-minded and passionate individuals came together from both private and public sectors to develop a new Data Protection and Information Governance Practitioner apprenticeship standard. We spoke to Trailblazer members Barry Moult, Bev McGowan and Phillipa Nazari to find out more about their Data Protection and Information Governance backgrounds, their motivations, and why this apprenticeship standard is so important.
The trailblazer group was initiated by Barry Moult, a seasoned Data Protection professional and winner of the ICO Award for Excellence in Data Protection 2020. In 2015, Barry was coming to the last few years of his NHS career and was concerned about the lack of staff coming through who saw Information Governance as a career choice. This was also reflected in the NHS Employers Job Profiles for Agenda for Change. He found that almost every other job role was included but not Information Governance. These items were discussed at Information Governance forums across the country and at the National Strategic Information Governance Network (SIGN).
Once Barry had left the NHS in 2018 and became self-employed, he had time to pursue the Information Governance Apprenticeship and the NHS Job Profile. In the summer of 2019, Barry began to make enquiries and research apprenticeships, making initial contact with Information Governance colleagues. In September of 2019 contact was made with the Institute of Apprentices & Technical Education. Their first meeting with their relationship manager was arranged for February 2020 in London. Following this, a Trailblazer Group was formed, including representatives from all work sectors. Shortly after, the group appointed Phillipa Nazari as the chair.
Phillipa has experience in roles both in the public and private sectors which have had elements of Information Governance in. Her passion for Information Governance and Data Protection stemmed from working in Children’s Social Care complaints where she witnessed first-hand how important the information held by organisations about young people’s lives is.
From there, Phillipa has undertaken many roles in Information Governance and Data Protection. Currently being in a strategic role means that she can influence across a city region to build in sustainable good practice. She is a huge advocate in organisations taking their responsibilities in this area seriously, outlining that you need the right skills, knowledge, behaviours, advising and undertaking of critical horizon scanning. This does not only manage risks posed to an organisation but allows them to derive huge value from data and information to inform the business and gain public trust.
Phillipa states: “It has never been more important for both the public and private sector to keep and maintain public trust. All organisations investing in skilled, capable, and experienced staff that can provide advice, guidance and assurance, so that the public are aware the use of their data is done so in accordance with the law is one facet of how to go about doing just that.”
Bev McGowan, CEO and founder of The Specialists Hub was one of the early members of the Trailblazer group, bringing 25 years of Information Governance experience from the Financial Services Industry, along with her experience as an approved apprenticeship provider on the RoATP.
When Bev was initially contacted by Barry and Stephen regarding the development of this standard, she was extremely excited and keen to get involved. Having built and led teams in Data Governance, Information/Cyber Security and Data Protection over the years, Bev has always found the shortage of early talent opportunities in this area and the lack of an appropriate apprenticeship standard frustrating, stating:
“Data Protection and Information Governance is so critical in all sectors, and even more so with the advancements in technologies, big data and the changing laws and regulations across the world. I believe this apprenticeship will add huge value to organisations across all sectors and will provide a fantastic opportunity for individuals to follow an interesting, in-demand career pathway.”
The benefit of this new standard is clear, and a key aim of the apprenticeship is to lessen the data skills gap in the UK job market. Government research found that there is significant demand for data skills, with UK companies recruiting for 178,000 to 234,000 roles requiring data skills (Gov.uk, Quantifying the UK Data Skills Gap, 2021). Phillipa, Chair of the group also emphasised her hopes to lessen this skills shortage, saying:
“I expect that the apprenticeship will provide an excellent route to lessen the skills gap. On the job training that benefits the organisation and on completion will give an individual a recognised qualification across all sectors.”
The apprenticeship standard is currently awaiting ministerial approval, but the Trailblazer group have strong hope that it will be approved and launched in the near future.
The standard is a level 4 practitioner to suit roles such as Data Protection Lead/Manager, Information Compliance Officer, Information Governance Lead/Officer/Manager, Privacy Officer. This occupation will be responsible for assisting the organisation in its compliance with Information Governance and Data Protection best practices and associated laws and regulations.
If you are interested in this apprenticeship standard, you can register your interest now.
Trailblazer members include:
Greater Manchester Combined Authority
The Specialists Hub
Special thanks to Barry Moult, Phillipa Nazari and Bev McGowan for their contributions to this article.