What makes a good apprentice?

Scotland has access to a family of apprenticeships that allows employers to engage with flexible Foundation, Modern, and Graduate-level apprenticeship frameworks and during National Apprenticeship Week 2022 we want to highlight our experience of apprentices.

The Apprentice Store has been employing apprentices for 5 years and has assisted 17 apprentices with their apprenticeship in that time. We do not just employ apprentices, we have also supported 9 young people with their Foundation apprenticeship whilst they are still in school. The COVID pandemic has created some challenges for apprentices and employers alike in how to onboard, support, and develop at distance – we wish to share our experience of apprenticeships to assist people who are looking to be an apprentice as well as employers who are considering employing an apprentice.

So, what makes a good apprentice?

When you think about apprentices, it is typical to think of a young person, but apprentices can be over the age of 24 so our first piece of advice is you do not need to be young to be an apprentice. The reason apprentices are typically younger is apprenticeships offer a great framework to develop new skills, but they can also be used to retrain or upskill. Employers seek to employ young people to attract new staff into their business and develop skills specific to their business as they see value in developing staff through apprenticeships. Apprentices and employers are supported by a training company that is funded by Skills Development Scotland to cover the support, guidance, and training to achieve the SQA accredited qualification from the many apprenticeship frameworks that are available.

The commitment to learn, from our perspective, needs to be the most important objective for the apprentice as they will be given the opportunity to learn through work experience regardless of their age. This may seem obvious, but the employer and training provider need the apprentice to show progression, so it requires the apprentice to show commitment and improvement in skills and knowledge. We have found that young people are keen to learn and as they have so much that they can learn they will show the biggest change once they become confident in their ability. When the apprentice is older, they come with life skills and previous work experience and typically have a clearer vision of what they want to achieve and will develop at a faster pace.

Apprentices as part of a team

Our apprentices all want to feel part of a team and typically learn by doing rather than being told what to do and as result require a suitable support framework. We look to buddy an apprentice with a member of our team who is supported by an internal skills mentor in addition to their training provider coach. We passionately believe that this support framework gives our apprentices the opportunity to learn from different people who bring different support techniques, knowledge, and availability.

Apprentices need to be confident in asking questions when they do not understand something, we see this as a strength of character rather than a weakness and we continuously re-enforce this in our working practices and not just for our apprentices. We believe that this culture shows our team can learn from each other, regardless of their experience and position within the business as there is always an opportunity to expand your knowledge and understanding if you ask questions. We find that our staff gain an insight into the progress of their own skills development by being asked to explain something or support another member of staff in understanding something.

Applying for an apprenticeship

We do not believe that academic background and any work experience are critical to the success of an apprenticeship, but we do recognise that other employers may feel differently about this. We believe that investing in an apprentice that wants to learn will build confidence in their ability to succeed.

When an apprentice applies for any apprenticeship, we suggest that they should do the following:

  1. Research the organisation that they are applying for to show an interest and desire to join the team.
  2. Research how the apprenticeship will benefit your development and how this will assist the organisation with their goals.
  3. Customise your personal statement in your CV for the role and organisation that you are applying for based on the research.
  4. Ensure that your covering email is professionally written as failure to compose this well may exclude you from the next stage.
  5. Go prepared with some questions for the interview as this shows commitment as many people do not ask questions.
  6. When you get your apprenticeship that is when the work really starts as you are now earning, so you need to learn. Your employer can help you learn but you need to learn and remember what you have learnt.
  7. Speak to your training coach and your line manager about challenges and opportunities.
  8. Believe in yourself and your ability but listen to advice given to you.

Conclusion

Apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity for the apprentice to enter the workforce or reskill and for employers it allows them to invest in their future workforce. Investing in your new workforce is just as important as investing in your current workforce and apprenticeships allow for a culture of learning within an organisation.

Interested in apprenticeships and what you can do to apply or support one? Contact us at info@theapprenticestore.co.uk or call us on 01463 832459.

This blog was written by our Founding Director, David Massey.

The Apprentice Store achieves Investors in Young People gold accreditation

The Apprentice Store, an IT service provider in Inverness supporting businesses in the Highlands and beyond, has achieved the prestigious Investors in Young People gold accreditation – an achievement that represents a true commitment to the recruitment, development and retention of Scotland’s young people.

A plaque to commemorate this achievement was presented by Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney at the organisation’s office in Inverness today.

Developed in 2014 as a result of the Wood Commission recommendations, Investors in Young People is a unique framework that helps organisations in Scotland recruit, develop and retain young people, supporting youth employment.

Commenting on the award, David Massey, managing director and founder of The Apprentice Store, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to work with young people and help them forge a career in IT. To have our work with young people recognised by Investors in Young People and, at the highest level by John Swinney, means a great deal to us. We look forward to expanding The Apprentice Store, taking on more apprentices and supporting more clients in the Highlands and Islands as well as the rest of Scotland.”

Deputy First Minister, John Swinney said: “I would like to congratulate The Apprentice Store on achieving the Investors in Young People Gold Accreditation Award. This success demonstrates to other organisations and apprentices what can be achieved with focus, motivation and dedication.

“Apprenticeships offer fantastic opportunities for people of all ages – providing them with the chance not only to work and earn, but also to achieve an industry recognised qualification to support future career ambitions. By equipping our young people with the right skills and learning opportunities we can help them on the pathway into employment ensuring Scotland’s economy continues to grow.”

Bonnie Clarke, Interim Chief Executive of Remarkable, the organisation licensed to deliver Investors in Young People, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for The Apprentice Store – congratulations! Investors in Young People not only recognises and supports organisations in the employment of young people, it also marks them out as an employer of choice. Our research shows that 95% of those involved with Investors in Young People say it is relevant to their organisation and as a result 93% of young people within these organisations feel valued. We wish The Apprentice Store continued success for the future.”

The Apprentice Store’s services cover web development, cyber security, IT support, and IT consultancy. The organisation works with businesses of all sizes and sectors from the public, private and third sector and is the only Scottish IT service provider that invests all profits into staff.

Apprentices are employed on a full-time basis rather than fixed term contracts with each following a personal learning plan. They typically follow levels 6 and 8 of Modern Apprenticeships, finishing their two-year programme with recognised qualifications (SVQs). They are all supported by mentors who are experts in their field to ensure that work is delivered to a high standard. Ultimately, The Apprentice Store has a core aim of increasing employment opportunities in IT for young people in the Highlands.

Now in its third year with a strong client base and expanding team and services, The Apprentice Store looks set for further growth as more businesses seek reliable IT services at a competitive rate, delivered by an unique combination of an enthusiastic apprentice and an experienced mentor.

Airan’s Blog – My Experience

My Experience at The Apprentice Store

I am now on my sixth week of work experience with The Apprentice Store and have recently been given certain tasks I need to do each week, such as a 500 word article for the end of each week on whatever topic I think is appropriate and then followed by eight posts relating to the chosen topic I’m working on for The Apprentice Store social media, these are to be written one week then posted the next. It’s all in preparation for the coming week.

Modern Apprenticeship Vacancy: IT Support Technician

 

Have you heard? We’re looking for a very special person to fill our first apprenticeship vacancy. APPLY NOW!

You’ll be working at The Apprentice Store in Inverness learning how to deliver a first class service to our client businesses around the Highlands. You’ll be mentored by our own David Massey who has had almost 30 years experience in delivery of IT services.