Engineer showing equipment to a female apprentice, women in STEM

What does the modern apprentice look like?

Engineer showing equipment to a female apprentice, women in STEM

Article by Kathryn Jeacock – Director of client services at Tiro

The last two years have driven businesses in every sector to rethink their approach to talent.

With many still operating on a remote or hybrid basis, changing client demands and longer-term recovery from the COVID disruption, most organisations will now require different skill sets from those they were hunting for pre-pandemic, particularly for entry-level and trainee positions.

Working with some of the UK’s largest STEM businesses, TIRO has experienced these changing demands firsthand. Providing talent solutions for science and tech employers, I’ve identified a few fundamentals that should be central to every business’s talent strategy when it comes to hiring apprentices fit for the contemporary workplace:

It’s about enthusiasm, not school results

Judging candidates by academic results has always been a mainstay for hiring managers – but with the pandemic disrupting so many in school and college, do grades really provide an indication of an individual’s aptitude in the workplace?

I’d suggest not. I’ve seen countless businesses falling into the trap of hiring based on grades, rather than demonstrable skills, values and general work-readiness. The way that the UK education system tests the abilities of students hasn’t changed since the Victorian era. The world, science and technology have progressed significantly since then, but 18 year olds will still sit a basic timed ink on paper exam. In a dynamic and developing industry such as tech, judging candidates in this outdated way simply won’t do.

Instead, the solution lies in widening the net for potential talent and focusing on an evident enthusiasm for the industry. An enthusiastic apprentice will be able to grow their abilities and talent whilst in the role, what you’ll probably find is that they’ll progress faster, perform better, and remain loyal as a result.

They don’t have all the answers, but ask the right questions

The real business value of working with apprentices comes from being able to craft employees with skills that meet your specific demands. Recruiting “cookie cutter” candidates with good academic results, but limited understanding of their chosen industry, can limit an organisation’s ability to tailor their workforce to their business demands.

For example, we’ve seen the struggles that employers face with graduate hires; there is an expectation that graduates will be better prepared for the workplace, but the reality is often the opposite if they haven’t gathered any work experience during their studies, and can come with increasing salary costs incurred.

It is more useful for employers to work with apprentices who have the drive to find out more about the sector themselves, and can be up front about what they do and don’t already know. Successful apprenticeship programmes are collaborative between employer and learner, and allow training to be tailored to meet both of their needs.

An apprentice that is considerate, self-reflective and competent will be easier to manage, and will likely be quicker to train, which is undoubtedly beneficial to employers in dynamic sectors such as STEM.

They can take skills from the classroom to the workplace

The UK science and tech sector has experienced exponential growth in recent years, and at the same time organisations are reacting to changing demands, working conditions and circumstances. For hiring managers, it’s unpredictable and challenging to plan for.

There are some traits that are evergreen though when it comes to judging apprentice candidates. When interviewing candidates for our business partners, we always look for these practical skills, evidence of the ability to learn quickly and work independently.

The modern apprentice must demonstrate that they’re a quick learner, agile and eager. With the right approach and a desire to strengthen their own skills, apprentices can learn a lot in just a few months and start making a valid contribution to their organisation, and truly benefit from the established expertise amongst their colleagues.

This is particularly true for science and tech roles – enthusiasm, diligence and resolve are the essential traits for succeeding in high pressure environments, where accuracy is key. HR managers that prioritise sourcing these traits will find that their apprentices are more effective, and able to thrive.

But it’s all easier said than done. We know that attracting young people remains a challenge for most employers in the country, and that many businesses simply do not have the time or resource to conduct detailed searches for apprentices that present these qualities.

Working with a talent partner instead, such as TIRO, can allow organisations to benefit from experience with apprentice recruitment, without draining the resources of already overworked colleagues. But the time is now, as the sector continues to grow, organisations must seize available talent now if they hope to thrive in the future.

About the author

Kathryn JeacockKathryn Jeacock heads up the Client Services team at Tiro, including apprenticeship resourcing and our internal people strategy. She genuinely believes that science and technology apprenticeships can change lives, and is committed to providing the ‘wow factor’ for all our employers, apprentices and colleagues.

Kathryn has 15 years’ experience in human resources across a range of industry sectors, including innovation and space technology. She has helped businesses to grow and thrive, both as a C-level executive and as an award-winning team coach. She also sits on the board for the World Institute for Action Learning.


Engineer showing equipment to a female apprentice, close up

The value of apprenticeships in creating more diversity and inclusion within the workplace

Engineer showing equipment to a female apprentice, close up

Article by Hannah Boltwood, Client Manager, Reply

In an increasingly digital age, those who are not engaging effectively with the digital world are at risk of being left behind.

Technological change means that digital skills are becoming more important for connecting with others, accessing information and services and meeting the changing demands of the workplace and economy.

I strongly believe that addressing the digital skills gap is essential when it comes to equipping people with the skills they need to live and work in a digital world and ensure everyone can benefit from the opportunities digital innovation and infrastructure investment can bring. Reply’s ultimate goal is that the UK tech sector becomes a diverse and inclusive community where people from all backgrounds are welcomed, listened to and valued for their contributions. However, this starts by addressing the tech ecosystem as a whole and working to find ways to close the digital skills gap.

One way in which we try to help the communities we serve, is by partnering with the Tech Talent Charter (TTC), a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusion and diversity in a practical and uniquely measurable way. As an ambassador for the TTC, I am passionate in helping companies to connect with people from skills bootcamps or apprenticeships, for example retraining post university, early career or after career breaks. I believe that apprenticeships can help close the unemployment gap and help to attract people from a wide talent pool which ultimately creates more diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

In fact, research shows that 43% of businesses with more diverse workforces have higher profits – and I believe that apprenticeships are the cornerstone to reaching that talent early!

About the author

Hannah Boltwood is a Client Manager at Reply Limited. She is passionate about bringing cost savings to the public sector through technology solutions, process improvement and stemming value leakage. She is driven by the impact these services have on people’s lives and how her contribution can make a difference.

She began her career as a mainframe programmer at IBM. Hannah has since used her highly analytical skill set to build a reputation for problem solving using both strategic and people skills to deliver transformation and change for her clients. She now runs Reply’s two largest government accounts, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.

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Female space operations engineer maintains equipment

Apprenticeships in tech: How young people can get involved

Female space operations engineer maintains equipment

Article by Ben Rubery, Apprenticeship Programmes Manager, Capgemini

As an award-winning apprenticeship employer, Capgemini have been invested in building the future and providing opportunities for apprentices for over 10 years.

We recognise the challenges that young people in particular face when considering their career options and the pandemic has magnified this issue as the UK now faces inevitable youth unemployment and underemployment challenges.

The UK Government have announced a range of initiatives under it’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ and we recognise it’s more important than ever that young people take the time to explore and understand the options available to them.

Apprenticeships are at the heart of this plan and bring a huge amount of value to the individuals who undertake them. They combine distance, classroom, or blended learning with on-the-job experience to provide the skills required to be successful in a chosen industry. This is a unique opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals, earn while you learn and gain a recognised qualification – up to master’s level.

The pace of growth in the technology sector is significant and the same applies to digital apprenticeships, which have allowed Capgemini to develop our own technologists of the future in key areas such as Cloud, Cyber Security and DevOps. So, if you’re passionate about pursuing an apprenticeship in technology where should you begin?

Demonstrate your passion

Perhaps you’re a self-taught programmer or enjoy reading about the latest developments in tech and take the time to research and continue learning new skills. As someone starting their career, it can be difficult to draw on past experiences so these are areas employers will want to hear about, as it not only shows your interest in the role but willingness to develop and learn, a big factor when taking on an apprenticeship.

Engage with employers

Many employers run insight events, Q&A and training sessions for prospective candidates. What’s brilliant is that the majority of these are now being delivered virtually so it couldn’t be easier to join! They offer the opportunity to learn more about the roles available and speak directly with employees, particularly those that are currently on apprenticeship programmes.

Not only are these events a great way to develop your employability skills, but it’s a chance to build your network and demonstrate your genuine interest for joining a particular organisation. You can find all of Capgemini’s upcoming events here.

Social Media

Talking of network, social media can be a fantastic way to start building connections and learn more about an organisations day to day activity. Making sure the content on the accounts you’re using to interact is appropriate (perhaps separate from a personal profile), you can engage with an organisations latest news and use this as a basis for any interviews.

Using social media to connect with current employees in roles that you’re hoping to go into is a quick and easy way to get your questions answered and hear about first-hand experience. Capgemini’s graduate and apprentice community are hugely active across social media and you can follow us across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Research

Apprenticeships can sometimes be difficult to navigate if you do not know what you are looking for. All apprenticeship vacancies are posted on the Government website here, and if you’re looking to work for a particular employer take a look at their dedicated careers websites like Capgemini’s pages here.

Use resources like RateMyApprenticeship and the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer listings to understand more about the quality of apprenticeships available. Awards are often based on existing employee reviews and data so are worth checking out if you’re unsure about a particular programme.

Organisations and their apprenticeship programmes may also be part of industry recognised accreditations, such as Tech Industry Gold for digital and technology degree apprenticeships allowing prospective apprentices to choose employers with confidence, based on results including employment and academic outcomes.


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