Recruiting IT and cyber apprentices during a pandemic
By Sarah Wood
Recruitment might be at a low and an unemployment at a high, but it is still possible to recruit and work with apprentices during a pandemic, as Cheltenham-based Iress shows.
Gloucestershire College work withs Iress to deliver training for software, IT infrastructure and cyber apprentices. Many of the apprentices with the company have gone on to achieve distinctions in their programmes and progress to more senior roles within the company.
Taking on five new apprentices in October this year, Iress has successfully onboarded new software development apprentices, despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic. The team at Iress has been working remotely since the start of March, which means the new apprentices are too.
Iress is a global software house, designing a variety of IT software and solutions for companies across financial services. It was founded in Australia in 1993 as a start-up business and now works with clients across the globe. The company has 2,300 employees globally. Cheltenham is one of the biggest offices in the UK, employing people in a variety of different roles, including software engineering, sales and operations.
Darcy Hibberd, people partner for talent acquisition, said: "We have found that apprenticeships are a really great way to help us grow our own talent. They have given us another avenue to explore to find and grow talent in the local area.
"We first started our journey in apprenticeship recruitment six years ago, but since the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, we have been able to drive our programme forward. We've hired 20 apprentices since then.
"For us, apprenticeship recruitment is a really important part of our talent attraction strategy. It helps us get the exact skills, knowledge and behaviours we are looking for, whilst helping us to grown our own workforce and make sure that they are just as invested in us as we are in them.
"We rotate our apprentices around different teams within the business. They get the benefit of working in different areas with different people and products, and we get the benefit of their knowledge and new way of thinking and working. It's great to have that fresh perspective and a new set of eyes on different aspects of Iress.
"Of the 20 apprentices that have joined us since 2017, 17 of them are still working at Iress. Nine are still partway through their studies and those who've completed have moved into more senior roles within Iress."
Since last year, Iress has recruited 12 apprentices with Gloucestershire College. Ten of these apprentices are Level 3 software developer technician apprentices and two of them work within the InfoSec team, one as a Level 3 infrastructure technician apprentice and one as a cyber security technologist apprentice.
Darcey said: "Since working with Gloucestershire College, I've been really impressed with the support we have received from them. They have been on hand to help with everything we've needed them for. I've worked with the Business Hub team throughout the recruitment process and they have been a great help in helping me screen all of our applicants and answer any questions.
"The feedback from our managers has been really positive about the course content. Our apprentices themselves have been very complimentary about the quality of teaching and support they've had from the course tutors as well.
"One of the positives about working with Gloucestershire College is the open communication we've had throughout the process. Particularly during Covid, they have talked us through all the safety measures in place at the college, so our apprentices still feel comfortable going in. We have also worked with Gloucestershire College to put in place adjustments if needed for any apprentices who preferred to have learning delivered remotely this year.
"We work with Gloucestershire College's Business Hub team to get all of our vacancies advertised. We use our own career pages to advertise the roles and Gloucestershire College helps us advertise on the government website as well.
"We have a broad spectrum of ages that apply for our apprenticeship programmes. There are school leavers and individuals who have had completely different careers previously, looking to reskill and make the move into technology."
Iress has found that the quality of applicants is so high that every time the company has recruited, it has taken on more apprentices than originally planned.
Gloucestershire College's apprenticeship programmes have a range of start dates throughout the year so if your business is looking to recruit new talent or upskill current staff, contact the Business Hub team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01452 563400.
If you are looking for a route into the IT or cyber industry, an apprenticeship is a great way to train. Open to anyone aged 16+, apply for your chosen apprenticeship programme through Gloucestershire College's website and the college can help you find a local employer looking to recruit new talent.
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