Friday, 10 April 2015

Why Microsoft and The Government support IT apprenticeships


By Sarah Morgan


National Apprenticeship Week has been and gone, but many businesses still don’t realise that you can access £10,000s of training for your staff or that you can use apprenticeships to bring new talent and skills into your organisation.


Find out about the benefits of IT apprenticeships from employers and apprentices, and hear from Microsoft, The Government and BCS. That was the agenda of Firebrand’s NAW2015 event, but if you couldn’t make it - here are the highlights.


What’s in it for employers?

Government Apprenticeships Ambassador, Andrew Jones MP kicked off the event with some startling statistics. A record 2 million people from across the UK have become apprentices over the past five years but only 15% of companies have offered apprenticeships.

Andrew Jones MP takes the stage at our event


That is in some ways a bad figure, and in some ways a good figure. If we have made huge progress but only 15% of companies have been engaged - we have an enormous opportunity…we still therefore have to get the message across – ‘Why companies should engage.’” Andrews Jones MP

Andrew Jones is clear; we are succeeding in attracting young people to apprenticeships, but with only 15% of organisations engaged, there is a massive opportunity to get more business on-board.

Here’s why employers should get involved:
  • 88% of businesses report increased employee satisfaction
  • 5 million consumers more likely to make a purchase from an apprentice employer
  • 80% of companies who have taken on an apprentice report a lower staff turnover
  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Employers benefit by £6000 after the first year of the apprenticeship program
  • 75% of business report gaining highly committed new staff (Microsoft)

And that’s without considering IT apprenticeship funding worth up to £27,000.


What is Microsoft doing for apprenticeships?

Microsoft’s 30,000 partners have faced challenges in hiring new staff, especially without paying £10,000’s in recruitment fees, states Dominic Gill, Microsoft Apprenticeship Lead. ‘Existing routes weren’t working,’ and businesses need to look for alternative options to bring in new talent.

There has been a significant decline in computer science graduates since 2006 – the UK suffering most with a 63% reduction in graduates. Dominic Gill knows apprenticeships are integral in solving the skills shortage, and Microsoft’s Get On initiative is evidence of their commitment.

The success of Microsoft Apprenticeships is astonishing with over 7000 young people starting their careers with apprenticeships since 2010.

And that’s not all. As Dominic concludes – “[Microsoft] are actually looking to start 3,500 new apprenticeships this year.”


Hear from the employers & apprentices themselves

Attendees got the opportunity to learn about IT apprenticeships from the apprentices and employers themselves. Microsoft Apprenticeships Lead Dominic Gill chaired a panel discussion with guests including:

  • Brett Raynes – founder of Cloud Direct and Firebrand apprentice employer
  • Simon Wade – HR manager at 5G communications and Firebrand apprentice employer
  • Richard Smith – apprentice at 5G communications and Firebrand apprentice
  • Kimberley Bolton – Pythagoras Communication and First female Apprentice of the Year Winner, Microsoft Apprentice Ambassador and Firebrand Apprentice


Dom Gill: What made you first start recruiting an apprentice rather than a graduate?


Brett Raynes: I think fundamentally we realised that success was not about whether you had a degree or not it was all about talent and attitude - the usual stuff that would make a success of any recruit you would bring into the company.


Dom Gill: What role did the training provider initially play in the decision process?

Brett Raynes – Firebrand were the inspiration to do it; they helped with the selection…and support for the apprentices when they joined the company…they were absolutely critical to the whole process.


Simon Wade – [Our Technical Manager] was at Firebrand on a training course and he saw all these people scribbling away in a room doing lots and lots of work…and this was about half past six/ seven o clock at night…and he said to someone, ‘who are they?’ and they said, ‘they’re apprentices.’ He came back to work and he said, ‘We’re getting some apprentices.’


Dom Gill: [Towards the apprentices] What do you do day-to-day?


Richard Smith: Myself and the other apprentice sit down and build the solutions for the field engineers…then once we’ve built the solution, the kits brought in and we then program-up the kit for the customers’ requirements...we test in house and we then ship it out to the customer…that’s what we do on a daily basis.


Dom Gill: What would you say would be the most interesting project you’ve worked on?


Kimberley Bolton: Being an Apprenticeships Ambassador with Microsoft…my main thing is trying to get more women into IT…so a chance to be here and be able to speak out and say it can be done, that to me is my best project.

Kimberley Bolton talks IT apprenticeshipsduring the panel discussion



Dom Gill: Any thoughts on how we could attract more women in IT?


Kimberley Bolton: Personally I think it’s about publicity…I don’t think the problem is with the companies, because when I’m at these events and I talk to the companies they want females - It’s not about them worrying that ‘[Women] aren’t going to be as good.’


Meet the apprentices themselves, including Firebrand Apprentice Kimberley Bolton, in the video below:



Keep a look out for the next event!

Make sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and don’t miss the next employer-focused apprenticeships event!

Employer? Apprentice? Find out more about Firebrand’s IT apprenticeships now.


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About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.