https://sfadigital.blog.gov.uk/2016/03/18/how-hiring-apprentices-is-helping-us-plan-for-the-future/

How hiring apprentices is helping us plan for the future

Find an apprenticeshipIn September 2015, we hired two level 4 software development apprentices. In this post I’ll talk about how we recruited them, what they’re working on, and how taking on apprentices is helping us plan for the future.

Finding our apprentices

We advertised our apprenticeship vacancies on Find an apprenticeship, a government service built by the SFA Digital team. We received over 50 applications and were able to invite a number of strong candidates to interview.

We knew that for many candidates, this would be their first interview for an “office job”, so we spoke to them beforehand to let them know what to expect. We kept the interviews professional, but not overly formal.

We enjoyed meeting all the candidates, and were impressed by their enthusiasm. The two candidates who stood out the most were Luke and Jordan, and they joined the team last autumn.

Combining off-the-job and on-the-job training

We developed a structured programme for our apprentices, based on the timing of their college course modules and key projects going on at the SFA.

I arranged for Jordan and Luke to spend time working with different digital teams, including Project Management, Business Analysis, and DevOps. We aligned the team rotations with the apprentices’ college course. For example, at the end of February Jordan and Luke took a week long module on testing, they’re now following this by spending a month with a Testing team – putting into practice what they learnt, developing their skills, and learning more on the job.

As well as their college courses, our apprentices also have the opportunity to take training courses available to all staff at the SFA. For example, they’ve completed training on Agile delivery.

Build a pipeline of talent

Recruiting developers is a competitive business in Coventry and the West Midlands. We’re up against national companies in the midst of their own digital transformations, as well as a thriving community of small companies and tech start-ups.

The SFA’s digital first strategy means our need for developers is only going to increase. One way for us to fulfil our future need is to build our own pipeline of talented developers – apprenticeships are a great way for us to do this. Our first Developer Apprentice took a role with us as a Junior Developer, and we’re hoping to repeat this success in the future.

There is a definite advantage to hiring “home grown” talent. It’s unusual to find someone looking for their first Junior Developer role who has experience in Agile, Scrum, SOLID, TDD, and who has had code put into production on major pieces of software. By the time Jordan and Luke complete their apprenticeships, they’ll have all this and more.

Future plans

We’re hoping to take on more developer apprentices in the future. If you think you might be interested, drop an email to digitalcareers@sfa.bis.gov.uk, and we’ll let you know when we’re recruiting.

You may also be interested in other blog posts by our apprentices:

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