Apprenticeships are a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn the skills they need to build successful careers.
It’s no secret that the UK is facing a skills shortage and COVID-19 has altered what the talent pool looks like. If we want to solve the pipeline problem, working in technology needs to be a clear career path that everyone, regardless of race, socio-economic background, and gender, can aspire to. The industry still has a long way to go but offering accessible apprenticeship and graduate schemes is a step in the right direction. We need to create roles people genuinely see themselves pursuing.
The BT apprentice experience
Apprentices begin their journey with induction and training days across BT Wholesale, which sets them up for success and provides them with information to navigate the organisation. Furthermore, all apprentices are rotated across multiple teams; gaining deeper insight into the wider operation of BT and developing relevant skills.
To ensure apprentices are supported and reach their full potential, each is assigned a learning buddy. This allows them to ask questions they might not feel confident putting to a manager and addresses any gaps in their knowledge.
Additionally, we take a blended learning approach. The majority of training takes place on the job but at least 20% of apprentices’ time is leveraged for classroom-based learning – whether online, at a local college or a specialist training organisation. This strategy culminates in a vocational qualification which is indispensable in their future career.
How we know it’s working
We are incredibly proud of all our apprentices, and their success is a testament to both the scheme and their hard work. One shining example is Callum Elsdon who joined in 2016 and is already being recognised for his performance, receiving a “Highly Commended” at the London Degree Apprentice of The Year event in November 2019.
But don’t just take our word for it. Callum says, “BT Wholesale has given me the tools to grow and the opportunity to make an impact. They put so much trust in their apprentices and give them the support to flourish and get the most out of their different rotations.”
What’s more, BT Wholesale has experienced year-on-year growth in its number of apprentices, and nearly 80% of apprentices that qualified five years ago are still with the business. More than half of them have also had at least one promotion.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, recently said of BT: “I applaud their continued support and investment in apprenticeships. The digital economy is booming and we need to make sure we can continue to build the skilled workforce.”
Preparing for the future
Our applicants are attracted by the size and scope of BT, the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology and the fully funded qualifications they end up with. For BT Wholesale, apprentices introduce new points of view, keeping the business forward-thinking and innovative in its approach.
Navigating the choppy waters of the pandemic have been hard but as we continue to look towards the future, our apprentices and graduates are firmly in sight. We understand it’s a long-term investment, but it’s one we’re happy to make.