Digital apprenticeships are not only for people straight out of college. Career changers are grabbing the opportunity to do something different with their lives by becoming digital apprentices. For some it’s a dramatic change from a career that had little to do with technology.

Jordan Delany studied music for three years at college but found it hard to make a living from his passion. After finishing college, he took a job in retail, but five years later he was still there. He was ready for a change.

‘I couldn’t see any progression opportunities in retail. I was on autopilot and knew I had to do something. I wanted job security, the chance to learn and most importantly, I wanted to get practical work experience,’ he said.

Changing key

He’d always had an interest in IT, so it felt ‘natural,’ he said, to go into a career in tech. He’s now working towards his Level 4 qualification in infrastructure engineering at a cyber security firm, supported by the training provider QA.

‘The apprenticeship experience was fantastic. I started in November 2019 but when COVID hit, QA just pivoted to online. They adapted very well. I am not a huge fan of the traditional exam-based learning preferring practical, lab-based learning and assessment, but the apprenticeship allowed me to complete 5 courses with exams and a portfolio that demonstrated my learning.

‘There was clear visibility of my progress through QA’s learning platform which I found really helpful. The lecturers and my Digital Learning Consultant were there to support me whenever I needed help’

This was the first apprenticeship for Jordan’s employer. It is an experiment that clearly benefitted Jordan, his employer, and the wider company, which has already taken on a second apprentice and looking to take on more in future. Jordan has been heavily involved in mentoring the new Level 3 apprentice, providing him with the opportunity to build leadership skills, alongside the practical work experience.

Whistle while you work

Work experience is a really important element of the apprenticeship for Jordan. ‘Employers are looking for work experience, but traditional degree courses leave you without the real-world, practical experience to put on your CV.’

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Jordan completed his Level 3 apprenticeship in just 15 months, achieving an impressive distinction despite all the potential disruptions that COVID could have thrown his way. He is now working towards a Level 4 Cyber Security Technologist Apprenticeship.

‘Apprenticeships are not just for people who are complete beginners. Other apprentices on the Level 4 cyber apprenticeship include experienced tech workers, senior managers and people twice my age! It has been a real eye opener for me to see how other employers use apprenticeships to train experienced members of staff.’

Finished symphony

Jordan is clearly a great ambassador for apprenticeship programmes, encouraging friends and members of the public to reconsider their perceptions of apprenticeships.

‘Apprenticeships provide you with the opportunity to earn and learn. Both points are important if you want to progress - financially and on the job ladder. My friends frequently ask me where they can find out more about apprenticeships.’

Jordan concludes ‘In retail, it felt like there were limited opportunities for progression. Now I can see that a career in tech provides great opportunities.’