Showing posts with label National Apprenticeships Week. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Apprenticeships Week. Show all posts

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.

Related articles:

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. 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Top 5 stories of National Apprenticeship Week 2015 so far

By Sarah Morgan

National Apprenticeship Week is upon us and there’s never been a better time to discover the benefits of IT apprenticeships for you and your business.

Firebrand has been following this week closely – here are the top 5 stories so far:

1. Government unveils cyber security initiatives for National Apprenticeship Week

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, today unveiled a selection of initiatives to encourage young people to pursue a career in cyber security.

The Government’s National Cyber Security Programme will be offering IT apprenticeships to boost the number of civil service cyber specialists. Cyber security training in further and higher education will also be provided.

Cyber Specialist apprenticeships from The Tech Partnership will train young people to become professional Cyber Intrusion analysts to work in Security Operations Centres.

Plus, from September 2016, cyber security will now feature in all computing and digital further education at level three and four. This means all 16-19 year olds will receive an introduction to cyber security if they choose these subjects.

Find out more about the Government’s new cyber security IT apprenticeships here.

2. UK businesses could get £18bn additional revenue from apprenticeships

A report from the Centre of Economics and Business Research reveals that consumers prefer to buy from businesses employing apprentices.

Marking the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2015, the report explained how UK businesses could be missing out on £18billion a year in consumer spending.

“One in four consumers say they would go as far as even paying more for goods and services offered by companies that employ apprentices”

The Benefits of Apprenticeships to Businesses study also found that businesses offering apprenticeships were perceived by 66% of the public as contributing to society, with five million consumers more likely to make a purchase from an apprentice employer.

Read more about the Benefits of Apprenticeships study here.

3. The average apprentice delivers £10,000 in productivity gains every year

The same study also found that the average apprentice can deliver up to £13,824 per annum for your business.

The research demonstrates that even before an apprentice is fully qualified, many businesses will experience the economic benefits of offering apprenticeships. Find out more here.

4. Nick Clegg’s apprenticeship message

Nick Clegg marked National Apprenticeship Week with a video message. The Deputy Prime Minister called on more young people to boost their skills and get involved in apprenticeship schemes across all industries.

“Whatever your sector, there’s a hard-working, dedicated apprentice out there ready to help your organisation thrive… So, if you want a good career or a boost to your businesses’ bottom line – get an apprenticeship.”

He also spoke about research showing that “gaining a higher-level apprenticeship can boost your lifetime earnings by £150,000.”

Watch Nick Clegg’s message yourself below. Or visit the Government website.

5. BT plans to create 1,000 new apprenticeship and graduate jobs

BT recently announced a major job-creation scheme to launch 700 new apprenticeships, and 300 graduate positions, across the UK.

The 700 new apprentices will work in IT, software development and a variety of other roles across BT’s UK organisation.

“The UK’s future as a technology leader hinges on young people getting the skills, support and training they need to create successful careers in science, engineering and IT,” BT’s chief executive Gavin Patterson stated.

Read BT’s press release here.

Get involved in National Apprenticeship Week

To stay up to date, follow #NAW2015 on Twitter, or for key facts, resources tools and templates – take a look at the National Apprenticeship Week website.

Sign up now and find out how apprenticeships will grow your business.

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. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

National Apprenticeship Week – more than 20,000 apprenticeships created


If you read our blog on a regular basis, you already know that in the beginning of March the UK observed the seventh National Apprenticeships Week. This year, many small, medium and large enterprises have put in a sterling effort to provide earn-as-you-learn opportunities to committed young people.

To be a bit more specific, these employers have committed to creating over 20,000 new apprenticeships as part of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week.

Besides the likes of corporate giants such as Whitbread, EE or Lloyds Banking Group, several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are demonstrating real commitment to apprenticeships. In fact, 47% of the employers creating new apprenticeships are SMEs.

Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock MP says: “Apprenticeships are delivering for employers, young people, adults and the economy, and are increasing at a record rate. Nearly every employer that takes on an apprentice reports benefits to their business, including the ability to grow their own talents.”

Join the pledge, hire an apprentice

If you want passionate and eager talent in your business, now’s your time to hire an apprentice!  As part of our commitment to apprenticeships, Firebrand has pledged to place 200 IT Apprentices in UK businesses this year.

View the details of Firebrand Apprenticeships and gain the benefits of hiring an apprentice. Jointhe pledge now.  

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. 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Great Apprenticeships – thoughts to consider


Following last week’s National Apprenticeship Week events, it’s time to evaluate what has happened and find out what still needs to happen. If we’re to make this year’s “great apprenticeships” theme come alive, we’ll need to raise nationwide awareness of apprenticeship schemes.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship?

From an employer’s perspective apprenticeships offer great opportunities to employ passionate young talent and train them, so that their skills perfectly fit the business’ needs and goals. Viewing it from an apprentice’s perspective, schemes present fantastic opportunities to learn on the job and gain real-life experience, while also earning money.

With the increased tuition fees, university learning has become less available (affordable) to many young people. However, this is not necessarily bad, because three or four years of theory-based learning is not for everyone, especially when it comes to practical professions, like engineering or computer sciences.

According to employers regularly “educate themselves out” of great jobs, because they feel compelled to go to university just to have a degree in something. Guess what, there are apprenticeships that actually offer degree level education, whilst learning on the job.

Custom skills for custom needs

Not only are apprentices easier and cheaper to recruit, but their skills can be tailor-made for a specific role or business. Training an apprentice to fit the organisation will also make them more committed and loyal.

Employers need to act fast to get the best

According to Kate Russell, MD of Russell HR Consulting “there is a big pool of talent available nearing the end of A-Level or equivalent, many of whom will be concerned about higher education and what they should do next.

Given how early the nightmarish UCAS process starts, employers who get in early by going into schools and colleges throughout the two "further education" years to advertise the kind of people they’re looking for and what they have to offer, will get the best pick.

Business needs good people and employers have to work hard to get them. Learning on the job suits a lot of people, and with a structured training/work programme both employer and apprentice could well benefit equally well from the arrangement.”

If you're interested about apprenticeships, find out more by visiting Firebrand Apprenticeships.

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. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Open your eyes to apprentice opportunities


Today marked the end of the seventh National Apprenticeship Week. This year’s theme was “Great Apprenticeships” and its primary goal was to raise the profile and significance of apprenticeships in the UK. In order to achieve this, over 700 events were organised and hosted by colleges and employers. Since so many young people are potentially struggling to get onto the career ladder, it is essential that apprenticeships get full support and greater exposure. And hopefully, this week of events did just that.

The following part is based on Matthew Bell’s guest post for

Young people thinking about what to do with their lives should seriously consider taking an apprenticeship, because there are some truly great opportunities. Although money should probably not be the main motivator, apprentices often earn substantially more than many university graduates, not to mention that they also learn while they earn.

Another key detail is that as a committed apprentice, you’re almost guaranteed a job at the end of your scheme, especially in technology related industries, where we see an ever-widening skills gap in the UK.

For some reason, apprenticeships are still often labelled as a choice for those who are “unable” to pursue a degree. However, what not many people know is that you can actually take your apprentice training up to degree level. 

Matthew’s advice, based on his personal experience is that you have to be open to the opportunities that an apprenticeship can offer. They provide excellent real-life work experience, help you earn while you learn, and even get you qualifications and/or training. So make the most of it! 

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.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Firebrand pledges to place 200 IT Apprentices in UK businesses


Hire young, eager and passionate talent into your business, while they gain 5 full weeks of Government-funded Firebrand training.

It’s National Apprenticeships Week 2014, to celebrate, Firebrand has pledged to place 200 IT Apprentices in UK businesses this year. To be part of this initiative, and gain all of the benefits below, pledge to hire an IT Apprentice in 2014.

Why hire an IT apprentice?

Our government-backed apprenticeships are officially approved by Microsoft, and provide:
  • Free Firebrand training and certification; including Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA and HP qualifications - worth at least £10,000
  • You up to a 75% reduction in your employment costs
  • The potential for you to receive a £1,500 Government grant per apprentice, for up to 10 apprentices
  • The minimum apprentice wage is £2.68 an hour.

How to hire an IT Apprentice in 2014

We've screened and interviewed 1000s of 16-24 year-olds, ready to start their career in IT. You can find out more about how we help via the website.

Don't just tale our word for it, watch this video from the National Apprenticeship Service where employers share their experience of hiring an apprentice. Or you can check out some of our success stories so far.

So you can just choose your ideal apprentice from the shortlist. Make your pledge before the end of National Apprenticeships Week, and bring fresh talent into your business now. 

How to get an Apprenticeship in IT


As we move towards the end of National Apprenticeship Week 2014, here at Firebrand we are working hard to answer questions from the many eager and capable youngsters currently expressing an interest in Firebrand's IT apprenticeships.

Having discovered the benefits of a career in IT and how an IT apprenticeship can help make that a reality, the next question on a would be apprentice's mind is often 'how do I get an apprenticeship in IT?' In the following post I will seek to give practical advice on how to achieve such a feat.

How to get an apprenticeship in IT

Whilst no single piece of advice equates to a silver bullet, if you follow these simple steps, you will find yourself on the path towards securing an apprenticeship. 

Finding an Apprenticeship

You've made a great start as Firebrand offer a range of IT apprenticeship programs. That a side, a key factor in securing an opportunity is first finding it. In September 2013, the National Apprenticeship service published figures highlighting 6,846 vacancies in IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professional apprenticeships.

You can find a range of opportunities, including Firebrand's IT apprenticeships, on the following websites:

  • Apprenticeships Vacancy Matching Service - the National Apprenticeship Service's official website advertising thousands of vacancies.
  • Not Going to Uni - offering apprenticeship opportunities from more than 1000 training providers, Not Going to Uni currently advertise 461 IT apprenticeships. (correct as of 06/03/2013) 
  • - the UK's #1 job site currently advertises 267 apprentice vacancies in the field of IT & Telecoms
Which type of Apprenticeship is right for you?

'IT Apprenticeship' is a rather broad term covering a wide variety of different programs. There are thousands of different careers in IT, focusing on multiple types of technology, with vastly different job roles and as such there are many types of apprenticeships available. Working out the which type is right for you is vital in focusing your application process. 

After all, you wouldn't want to take an apprenticeship that teaches you how to manage a server, when in fact you want to become an App developer. Our IT apprentice program currently offers 4 separate tracks:
  • IT Desktop Support - learn all about PC technology and functionality, operating systems, security and network management as well as server administration.
  • IT Solutions Developer - currently in huge demand, learn the skills necessary to become a developer including software, web, application and gaming development, alongside the basics of programming in C#.
  • Server and Database Associate- this apprenticeship will teach you how to install, maintain, support and monitor the latest versions of Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server.
  • HP & Microsoft Advanced Apprenticeship - this specifically develops knowledge associated with both HP and Microsoft technology. Upon completion the apprentice could work in an array of careers including that of IT Support Technician, Systems Engineer, IT User Support, IT and Network Administrator or System Administrator.
Check back regularly with multiple programmes currently being developed.

Here's Microsoft's MD, Michael Van der Bel talking about why you should sign up with an apprenticship with Firebrand.

Tailor your CV

Prior to joining Firebrand, I spent the better part of 3 years in recruitment. As a recruiter, I would wade through 1000s of CVs every single day. Time was money, so making a decision on whether an applicant is suitable usually occurs in the first 15-20 seconds of reading a CV. We would look for relevant keywords associated with the job role the applicant had applied for. This included but was not limited to past experience and if relevant an associated certification or qualification.

Tailoring your CV to reflect the opportunity you are applying for is a powerful way of catching the readers attention. For example if your applying for Firebrand's IT Solutions Developer apprenticeship, you could use the following techniques.

  • Add a covering letter expressing your desire to attend the apprentice program.
  • The title of your CV could state "Curriculum Vitae for the IT Solutions Developer Apprenticeship"
  • Most CVs contain a brief candidate profile, use this as an opportunity to mention your desire to work as a developer. 
  • Demonstrate relevant qualifications. If you have a GCSE in Information Technology, or a beginners certificate in coding, make sure you highlight it. Maybe even put it in bold. Or even underline it too. (stands out, doesn't it)
  • Demonstrate relevant experience. Leaving school, it's unlikely you have held a career in IT, but that doesn't mean you can't demonstrate experience. Perhaps you've made your own website, or built a basic app? Linking to these in a CV is a fantastic way of demonstrating relevant experience and interest.

Get going and Good Luck 

So there you have it, some practical advice on how to get an apprenticeship in IT. I hope you find it useful. Please feel free to comment if you have any additional questions, or perhaps want to add your own advice based on your experience.

About the Author

As part of Firebrand's global marketing team, Edward actively works to serve the IT community with news, reviews and technical how to guides. Working in the Industry for almost 3 years years, Edward has a wide variety of experience with Microsoft Technologies including SharePoint and Windows Server and Exchange Server. Edward is an active member of the IT community contributing to a variety of tech publications including Microsoft TechNet, Channel Pro and PC Advisor among others.