As the digital revolution continues, many of today’s most common jobs are evolving at a rapid pace. Similarly, a lot of new, previously unheard-of jobs are starting to emerge, and it’s important the next generation of job seekers are equipped with the skills needed to make the most of these exciting opportunities.
Statistics from the national careers service say that 90% of new, emerging jobs require digital skills of some kind, and 72% of UK employers are unwilling to even interview candidates who don’t have the right level of IT knowledge.
However, this National Apprenticeship Week, one tech firm is seeing the benefits of using apprenticeships to help their workforce develop the skills they need to make a real impact on their business.
With offices in Cambridge and North America, Envisia Learning, was one of the first companies to offer leadership development professionals the 360-degree feedback process online in 1997. In the decades since, they have built custom assessment and development processes and reports for hundreds of clients all over the world, helping them to deliver real and lasting behaviour change, through a combination of psychology, technology and talent development expertise.
In 2018 for the first time, Envisia Learning turned to apprenticeships to add to their talent pool.
Matt Pocock, Managing Director of Envisia Learning explains their approach, “We were growing as a business, and internally we had a need for more software developers. We came across some of the Government adverts about apprenticeships, made some enquiries and went from there.”
Envisia Learning hired apprentice Ciaran Tuohy, straight from his college course. With no real work experience,and despite using cutting edge coding software within their leading and development software, they have never looked back.
Says Matt, “Ciaran had some coding knowledge but was largely self-taught. We were quite tough on him at interview stage; as part of the process, we use a book that introduces the Ruby on Rails coding language. You can follow the instructions initially, but then you have to go deeper and demonstrate your learning. The book doesn’t tell you what to do, you have to use your learning to complete tasks. We left it with Ciaran for a week or two, he invested a lot of his time and picked things up quickly but it was a learning curve for him.”
Ciaran had left school after his first year of A-levels and was working for his Dad’s electrical business when he saw the apprenticeship. Despite his relative inexperience, Ciaran made a strong impression during the interview process and Envisia Learning were confident this he was the right person for them.
Matt explains, “As an employer, it was a great thing for us to do morally, to be able to offer this type of opportunity and invest in a young person at the start of their career, but the apprenticeship has been a great success and delivering a real return in investment for us as a business. We paid slightly more than the national apprenticeship wage but the benefits we see are significantly greater than this.”
“We were able to get a great candidate into the business, who picked things up very quickly. Ciaran had no knowledge of the Ruby on Rails software initially, but after around three months he was able to work on internal development projects and also client work for us which we would bill out. For a firm of 15 people in our UK business, this was a massive benefit.”
IT apprenticeships deliver the skills that school, college and university leavers need to help businesses grow in an increasingly digital world. This new experience has made an advocate of Matt, and the business are keen to hire more apprentices in the future.
“The apprenticeship route is a great choice for many people. Many choose university but with the fees, it’s not for everyone. We are based 15 minutes from Ciaran’s house, and rather than pay to learn, he is getting paid to learn. He could have gone to college or university, but the software he studied may not have been the one his employer used. Now he is a full-time programmer, on a decent salary. I would say the apprenticeship has worked well for him. If we could find another candidate like Ciaran, we would take on another apprentice in a heartbeat.”