Source: Office For Students. Interview Case Study: Recruiting and employing a degree apprentice.
As a business we have traditionally recruited graduates from University and trained them up to become software developers. In the back of my mind I'd thought that if we could take kids straight out of school, that had done A-Levels, were good at Maths and had a passion for software development, then actually we could train them up in the same way as we did for graduates.
So when I found out about the Degree Apprenticeship programme, it just seemed to make sense to me.
Well, we are based in the North West of England in Ellesmere Port. Really there are only 2 avenues that we could go down. Manchester Metropolitan or Liverpool John Moores. I did also look at our local college in Ellesmere Port, but at that time they were not offering a Degree Apprenticeship. So because we are close to Merseyside, Liverpool John Moores seemed to be the most natural fit.
John Moores were just starting last year to offer a degree apprenticeship in IT - BSc in Digital & Technology Solutions. What we did was take our programme for graduates and we looked to apply that to A-Level students.
Now in my mind I see what LJMU offer as being a traditional Computer Science degree in year 1 and year 2, which is going through the basics - the theory around Computer Science.
But the bit that is important, from an education point of view, is combining that theory with the practice of actually building software for our clients. And then applying that experience in years 3 and 4 into practical projects. Rather than taking something out of the ether, actually building real systems. Applying the theory they have learnt at College and the Practice they have had with us, to create real software for real businesses.
The way that we look at recruiting graduates or degree apprentices is from the same talent pool as far as we are concerned. There are a certain number of people that we will bring in to our business that are new. They are Juniors and there is finite number of head count that we can bring into our business.
Actually it is split down the middle between graduates and degree apprentices for the number that we welcome into our business each year. And our approach to both is really the same. We don't really see them as being any different as A-Level students to being a graduate from a university in terms of the way we train them and what we expect from them.
So our expectation is that within an 18 month window they have become software developers who are pretty much fully chargeable. Whether they come straight out of school or out of University. We don't actually see a huge difference between them. Just the fact that they are a few years younger.
If you are an organisation that takes on young people who have got the raw talent to do what you do as a business, whether you take them on as a graduate or straight out of school, you are building somebody into a mindset that works for your business and has a level of loyalty.
You end up employing guys and gals that are loyal to you as a business and are very good at what they are doing. I think we forget that just because somebody is 18, that doesn't mean that they can't do stuff. Actually if they get challenged and supported, they can be highly productive, in the workplace, within a surprisingly short amount of time.
The amount of work they have to do is massive. To get a degree; hold down a full time job; and have any form of social life. That is not to be underestimated. I think those sorts of people, if you get them into your business, can stand you in good stead for the years to come.