National Apprenticeship Week has just begun and people across the country are talking about the wide range of benefits apprenticeships can bring.
This hasn’t always been the case though. After being very common for a long time, apprenticeships suffered a big drop in popularity and were often considered by both applicants and employers as being of less merit than a formal education. This led to a lack of new talent applying for roles right out of school.
Happily, this is changing and apprenticeships are now as popular as ever. They are recognised as an excellent alternative for young people who want to jump straight into a career instead of continuing their education in a more traditional manner.
As a company that recognises the big influence employers can have in helping to grow the talent pool, we created our own apprenticeship scheme to encourage young people to enter the software development field.
From an engineering point of view, apprentices help us keep our thinking fresh and inventive, which is a great advantage in the competitive market we operate in. We encourage our apprentices to draw upon their experiences and share new approaches and creative solutions that they may have learned via their non-traditional route to work. We help each individual build their skills base by drawing on our specialisms to enhance their CV as we deliver learning that is business-relevant, something that’s harder to learn in a classroom.
The advantages for both apprentice and employer are many, but one of the things I most like to see is the boost that apprentices can give their mentors. I consistently notice an increase in job satisfaction from our teams who work with apprentices. They enjoy sharing their knowledge and helping younger people develop their skills.
It’s really important that we give as much as we get, so we make sure that our apprentices are fully immersed in the CRITICAL Software ‘way of life’. As well as supporting apprentices during their studies, helping them avoid big student debts and paying them a wage, we treat them like part of the team.
Our apprentices work closely with talented engineers on projects chosen to broaden their learning and fast-track their progression. They also get to experience interacting with other company departments outside of engineering, including HR, sales, marketing and management. This is something we feel is extremely beneficial for their future career.
From experiencing customer meetings, on-hand expert engineering advice, pizza-fuelled project innovation nights, team-building events and monthly massages, our apprentices experience life in our company as if they were a full-time employee, enjoying the cultural benefits as well as gaining real experience.
We look to build confidence by offering opportunities that carry more responsibility too, like representing the company by working on customer sites. This trust goes a long way in empowering our apprentices and making sure they feel capable in different working environments.
We know this inclusive approach is successful because our apprentices have told us that they not only learn a lot and enjoy their work, but they make great friends too. In fact, most of our apprentices enjoyed the experience so much, they returned as full-time employees!
It’s no surprise that many businesses are now creating schemes like ours and I for one am happy to see the support grow. When I’m asked by other companies how they can begin attracting amazing apprentices, my answer is pretty simple: be an amazing company! Be an employer people want to work for and don’t just focus on new talent either, be a better company for all employees.
Creating a great working environment for your people and offering them more than just a pay packet is vital. We focus on investing our time and energy in our people and on delivering benefits beyond the norm, which creates a happy, productive workforce. To continue attracting the best talent, we talk to our staff to gather their feedback so we can adapt and improve the support we offer. This goes for our apprenticeship scheme too. We look to innovate at all levels.
After years of working closely with them, I believe apprentices are amazing for a variety of reasons. These talented young people help make our business better while giving us the invaluable opportunity to play a key role in their future, which I think is quite something.
To find out more about our apprenticeship scheme visit our dedicated page.