My journey with apprenticeships

Looking back, there was a time when I had a ‘downer’ on apprenticeships, which was counter intuitive because when I left school, I completed a 4-year MoD apprenticeship. I’d got in a rut, thinking that modern apprenticeships were not real apprenticeships, and they were more trouble than they were worth, so I never really got on board with the opportunities they give. I missed a trick. 

My apprenticeship was old style, with an annual intake of 24 newbies with the first two years spent in a training centre followed by 8 specialist placements. It was fabulous and gave me opportunities and an outlook that has helped me in many ways. Sometimes I wonder how I got to where I have, and “imposter syndrome” sometimes gets the better of me. But, now I’m certain that the things I learnt, many of them subconsciously, gave me a confidence that I hadn’t appreciated or attributed to my apprenticeship, until now. 

When I joined VIVID, we’d just taken on an apprentice. As I watched him progress I became more interested in how the apprenticeship was structured, the college work he was doing and how things worked with his manager. My scepticism started to wain as I watched his personal growth and I spotted that his manager was growing too. There were some trials and tribulations along the way, for all concerned.  It’s not always easy and there has to be commitment on all sides and sometimes there needs to be a dogged determination to nurture our people and go the extra mile to help make things successful. But, with the right culture and support we reaped the benefits. He overcame adversity and completed his apprenticeship a year ago. We offered him a trainee role and now is about to become a fully-fledged member of our team. We’ve seen him grow from being a shy, introvert and anxious apprentice to a high performing young IT professional with an amazing dedication and a strong, robust set of values and behaviours that will set him up for the rest of his life. 

We currently have two apprentices, one specialising in the Low Code software development and another in Business Administration. They’re doing great and their managers are enjoying the challenges and experiences of nurturing our new talent. Our apprentices are fully integrated into our team and do real work that adds value to our whole team. I believe in creating an environment where everyone can do some of the best work of their lives.  

Making the opportunities within the team for apprentices and trainees benefits everyone. Other team members are involved in their training and professional development. Take our developer as an example, in the 2nd year of his apprenticeship, his line manager will be one of our senior developers, who themselves is progressing their career and will become a line manager for the first time. So, it’s like a 5-way accumulator - apprentice, manager, team member, department, and whole organisation. Everyone’s a winner.  

But of course, this doesn’t all happen by chance. It’s the kind of thing that must be driven from the top. As the leader of the IT team, I champion apprenticeships and support everyone involved. I maintain regular contact with our managers and our apprentices to make sure that we’re doing everything we can do help everyone achieve great things. There have been times when I’ve had to get involved, when I’d prefer not to; sometimes strong and clear leadership helps everyone focus on the important things and that has included the apprentice training providers. 

Strategically and tactically apprenticeships and traineeships are a fantastic way to nurture the skills needed within your team. And an apprentice is very good value. The time, effort and energy it takes to support an apprentice easily pays off over the duration of the apprenticeship. 20% of our team is made up of current or former apprentices or trainees and all of them have stayed with us. That’s an impressive achievement for everyone involved and demonstrates our commitment to our people. 

Providing bright futures is something we’re passionate about at VIVID. We’re a large company and employer across the south of England, and one that has strong connections with our local communities. Therefore, we believe it’s our responsibility to support our young people in gaining the fundamental skills and experience to help boost their prospects and chances in life. So far, we’ve offered apprenticeships in disciplines covering our trades, finance, HR and IT. I’m immensely proud of what they have achieved and look forward watching their LinkedIn profiles long after I’ve retired! 

Strategically and tactically apprenticeships and traineeships are a fantastic way to nurture the skills needed within your team.. 20% of our team is made up of current or former apprentices or trainees and all of them have stayed with us.