Our first IT apprenticeship: One year on
Lewis walked into the Hireserve office in November 2014.
“I was scared – I don’t do interviews! I felt like I could do the job, but I was nervous.”
– Lewis Wright
Fresh from college and armed with a BTEC in IT & Computing, but without any prior office or relevant work experience, Lewis was not a typical candidate for one of our developer roles. He was 18 years old and applying for Hireserve’s first ever IT apprenticeship.
The IT Skills Shortage
Back in 2014 we needed to grow our technical team, but were facing the same recruitment issues as many fellow UK tech firms.
Everywhere you looked, web development skills were in high demand, and every tech firm from vibrant start-ups to the long-established players were competing for this hard-to-find talent.
So we chose instead to invest in nurturing our own home-grown talent, and created an IT apprenticeship role.
For us, it made a lot of sense. As a small but ambitious and rapidly growing technology company, we could bring a fresh perspective to our team, hone and develop the bespoke skills that we needed, and benefit from the comprehensive training that an apprenticeship offered.
Hiring for an IT apprenticeship also meant that we could offer a young person the opportunity to learn and develop their skills whilst working in a fast-paced and exciting industry.
“When I first interviewed at Hireserve, I thought everyone was really friendly. It felt like a family environment. When I got the job, I was happy.”
Lewis – Part I
“The main reason that I wanted to become an apprentice was to get experience in an office and working environment while learning about software and web development. I did look at university but for me personally I wanted to go out and work.”
So, Lewis walked through our office doors on that cold November morning in 2014 and, within a few days, was sat at a desk with the rest of our Front End Development team.
It was an investment for the business, certainly. Lewis arrived with little knowledge of our sector or product and did need training and support when he first started.
But the benefits of employing an apprentice outweighed those points.
The team quickly realised that Lewis was an incredibly quick learner, meaning he was able to contribute and add value to projects within a relatively short amount of time.
It also offered invaluable personal and professional development opportunities for the team member who managed and mentored Lewis throughout his apprenticeship and liaised with his training provider.
“An apprenticeship is a great way to get experience within a working environment and is a great way to ease yourself into any industry… If you are a practical and hands on learner then an apprenticeship is definitely a good route to take.”
Lewis – Part II
Lewis completed his apprenticeship in January with an NVQ in Software & Web Development, and since then has been promoted to a permanent member of the team as Junior Web Developer. He’s now working across two teams, continuing his work with the front-end team and, more recently, supporting the database development team.
His day-to-day role encompasses everything from investigating customer support tickets to helping to build customer career sites, and he is also now embarking upon a Level 4 NVQ qualification.
“I feel a great sense of accomplishment now that I have completed my apprenticeship. I think that my skills have greatly improved over the past year and I really feel like a valued member of the team.”
So why are we sharing our story of an IT apprenticeship? As a UK tech SME, we believe it’s important to contribute to the apprenticeship conversation. We’re keen to alter preconceptions – and to amend misconceptions – that apprenticeships aren’t a viable route into a fulfilling and valuable career.
We also want to share our experiences because, as a small business, it can be daunting to think about sustainable and commercially viable ways of supporting early careers candidates or young talent.
But it can be done.
Karen, our Operations Director, shares this advice:
“The first step is to believe that you can do it. Share your vision for supporting young talent across your organisation to ensure everyone buys into it. Appoint a dedicated mentor for your apprentice and encourage other team members to support this person with their workload when they need to spend more time with your new hire.
The other key is to keep talking to your apprentice and to encourage them to take ownership of their day-to-day tasks, training exercises and academic work. This should help to alleviate the micro-management for their mentor, and to imbue your apprentice with more confidence and an increased sense of fulfilment.”
We’re incredibly supportive of apprentices – so much so that we have just hired our second!
Whether you’re a large or small organisation, join us in this conversation, share your stories and inspire other businesses to offer and benefit from an apprenticeship.
Find out more
What businesses need to be talking and changing about apprenticeships
How your business can support young talent
8 essential reads about improving employability