Brighten Your Future with Step Forward’s Apprenticeship Programme

Rachel Taylor, Employer Engagement Manager at apprenticeship provider Step Forward, explores how the routes to finding a career – and future star employees – is rapidly changing.

Last month 18-year-old Ellie from Lambeth walked nervously into school to collect her A Level results. Her head was spinning. She was predicted excellent results and her future was lying ahead of her. What would she do next?

Nervously opening the envelope, she scanned down – she’d done it. Her predicted high passing grades had come through and she’d got something amazing lined up. But not university. In September Ellie will be starting a Digital Marketing apprenticeship at award-winning customer service provider Sabio. With university fees trebling (and then trebling again) over the past 10 years it’s just as well that today’s fresh crop of 18-year-olds have many more options. Trainee ships, apprenticeships, degrees, graduate schemes – however you learn best there is an option and in pretty much any job you can imagine!

Despite Brexit uncertainty, some industries are searching high and low to find new recruits.  And they aren’t just interested in graduates. Smart companies are learning to be flexible so that they don’t miss out on future stars. And they need to be. The technology sector, for example, is creating more jobs every day and there are just not enough young technology students to fill them. With the effects of Brexit unknown and graduate numbers falling, employers and the Government are already taking steps to ensure this situation doesn’t become wide-spread in the UK.

In April, the Government took steps in the right direction by introducing the apprenticeship levy (a tax for the biggest organisations in England that creates a fund to pay for apprenticeship training). The aim is to grow apprenticeship starts to 3 million by 2020. Apprenticeships have changed dramatically in the last few years with every subject available from floristry and insurance broking to software development and paralegal services. And it’s appealing to lots of different young people. Some are choosing – like me – to forge a career without a degree and without debt. It’s also an appealing option for businesses to get young talent before anyone else – especially in technology.

Leading children’s charity, Barnardo’s, took on its first apprentice last year in its customer relationship management (CRM) and insight team, which supports its fundraising efforts. It relies on an excellent knowledge of CRM database Salesforce.

Romano, 19, took on the role while doing a software development apprenticeship, having just finished school where he gained three A Levels. The role is challenging and intensive, involving a steep learning curve.

Head of Insight & CRM, Symon Russell, says: “Salesforce is very much at the heart of how we manage the fundraising side of Barnardo’s so it is really important that my team provides strong support to its users in the fundraising team. Previously we would have looked for someone older with more experience for this type of role, but it has worked well and we are taking on three more apprentices this year.” It’s not just large organisations that benefit. Kano, a technology start-up in East London that sells build-your-own-computer kits, is also a firm fan of getting in talent early.



Recruiting school leavers 

Matthew Keegan, Head of Customer Care, says: “When a colleague suggested the apprentice scheme it seemed like a great way of bringing young talent straight from school into our team. Previously, I had been worried about recruiting school leavers as I felt it would be tough to help them transition to the workplace. I needn’t have worried though, as we were sent really high-quality candidates and have had lots of support”.

Alex and Nathania both started with Kano in September 2016 aged 18, having recently completed their A Levels. Their roles include helping with all elements of the customer care team’s activities, supporting users of Kano’s products, programs, and services.

Nathania says: “I’m really surprised by the number of new things I’ve learned during my apprenticeship. My advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship would be to really throw yourself into it. You’ll get out as much as you put in”

Investing in the apprentice is really important on both sides to get the most out of it.  Although an apprentice might need nurturing, they quickly give back a lot more than expected.

Cogora, a healthcare publisher, appointed two apprentices in September 2016. Craig Hughes, Senior Project Manager, says, “Our on-boarding included two weeks initial training in addition to the training they have every week. It was a large initial investment, but we are really seeing the benefits. We expect the apprentices to turn up and work hard like everyone else at Cogora does. I’ve been impressed by them as young adults and the contributions they have made.”

With more and more stories like these surfacing daily it’s no wonder that the perception of apprenticeships is rapidly changing.


Cogora apprentice D’Shai says: “I feel like the concept of an apprenticeship has evolved, from being p


erceived as something for people who weren’t academic, to now being a gateway to entering the professional environment. It allows you to realise that the world is filled with opportunities for those with the determination to search.”

If you want more information about Step Forward apprenticeships, including our next software development class starting in January, visit stepforward or

email [email protected]

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