If your company already hires and upskills digital apprentices, you’ll know how greatly their professional skills and behaviour develop during their qualification. But once an apprentice passes their end point assessment with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and settles down to the job in hand, they may start to feel vulnerable. Without that official apprentice status to show the world they’re still learning, will they be able to make valuable contributions in the same way as their non-apprentice peers? Here’s how businesses can support apprentices during this transitional period as they build up their credibility and self-confidence:
1. Harness the longer-term benefits of IT apprenticeships
Alongside the obvious professional benefits of an apprenticeship, there are hidden benefits that managers can leverage to improve ex-apprentices’ standing and security within the company. These include:
- Loyalty. Apprentices are grateful for the time and money spent on their learning, making them much more likely to want to ‘give back’ to their employer. Make it clear that you appreciate the effort they’ve put into their work for the business to date, and that you’ll ensure they have the chance to continue developing their skills as long as they’re here.
- Embedding a culture of apprenticeships. Former apprentices are an invaluable support to current ones, because they know what opportunities apprentices need to progress in their learning, and can advise and encourage those getting disheartened or worried. They can play a vital role in creating a culture of apprentice support and improving their overall learning experience.
- A fresh perspective on company activities. Apprentices who came in as new recruits will have some ideas about ways in which their job, team or workplace could be improved - so why not ask them for suggestions? A recent graduate from Firebrand’s Level 3 Infrastructure Technician apprenticeship said ‘Young people have different and fresh ideas of new concepts that they can bring to a team. When hiring… I’d say look at what they can bring to the team in terms of their personality and approach to working.’
2. Ensure apprentices use their training
‘One of the key things we want to emphasise about apprenticeships is recognition of their value and trust in quality of delivery’ says Richard Lester, Programme Director at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. ‘Knowledge is great, but it’s application of knowledge and skills in a professional environment that really matters to employers. It’s what you do that counts, and how you do it – not simply what you know.’
Helping apprentices make the most of their training starts at the initial planning stage - if there’s a course for a product or service you don’t use in your learning provider’s programme, ask if it can be substituted. Liaise regularly with the provider to make sure the apprentice’s working activities complement their learning – if they’ve just taken a web design course, set them a design project when they return. And, after the apprenticeship, consider how apprentices can build on their skills; for example, by taking the advanced course in a product they’ve covered at foundation level.
3. Give them credit for what they’ve learned
The hard work apprentices put in to reach the required standard should be acknowledged to colleagues across their industry. Digital apprentices who pass their qualifications are eligible to be registrants of the Register of IT Technicians (RITTech), BCS’s whole-industry standard for technical professionals demonstrating a required level of competence. Individuals must apply to BCS for inclusion and be verified by a supporter who knows them and can attest to their skill levels.
‘Why shouldn’t great apprentices get some letters after their names after all that hard work?’ says Richard Lester. ‘Graduates get BA or BSc, so why don’t apprentices get recognised for their achievements?’
About Firebrand Training
Firebrand Training is the UK's leader in accelerated learning, providing the fastest, most comprehensive and industry-relevant training to IT and digital professionals at every stage of their careers since 2001. Over 68,000 students have received the knowledge and credentials businesses need, faster than any other provider through our proven accelerated learning model.
Firebrand is a training provider for every professional in the IT sector, whether apprentices changing or starting their career, or senior managers exploring the latest products. Once in our training centre, students eat, sleep and breathe new learning, gaining as much from the experiences of their classmates as from their Firebrand instructor’s expertise. This immersive approach helps develop knowledgeable, practical and collaborative professionals who are ready to accelerate their careers in IT through a commitment to lifelong learning.
Firebrand has been named amongst the Top 20 IT Training Companies in the World for eight years running and offers official courses by every big name in the industry. Student feedback is available on Firebrand's website.