One year in….
Twelve months ago I wrote a short piece detailing the first Abavus steps into employing workplace apprentices. Now in such a challenging labour market for young workers ‘Generation Covid’ as they are being called, I feel it useful to update on the progress of the scheme established at Abavus and on the apprentices that we employed.
Gus and Jake
Both Gus and Jake have really flourished during the first year. They settled into their roles quickly and within a short period of time, they were fully assimilated with the technology platform that we use, answering questions from customers in a competent and professional fashion, building up their knowledge, skills, and experience. As the months have progressed, they have also both found their respective work niches and have become real assets, not only in relation to their core roles but also in supporting our full-time technical account managers on more complex project-based work. This has been an added bonus.
Gus and Jake are very different individuals. Jake is very customer-focused and in addition to his own core activities will now competently support me in demonstrating products to customers. For a young individual, he has a really calm and composed demeanor and he is a really professional slick operator in every respect. Jake without a doubt is a future technology senior manager and leader who learns fast.
Jake said “From day one I have loved the role that I am in and I am pushing myself to learn something new every day. Being in a small but fast-paced IT company means that no two days are the same. I really enjoy coming to work and it has been a great experience”.
Gus has a different skillset. He is very analytical and more so what I would call a traditional ‘techie’. He shows a real aptitude for dealing with complex IT problems. If he carries on in a similar vein I have no doubt that he will be a fully-fledged software engineer or close to it in the not too distant future. Gus said “the transition from school to full-time work wasn’t easy, but as I have established myself in the new team I have been given more responsibility which has been great’
Together Gus and Jake make a really good team and have become friends as well which is great to see.
Adapting during COVID
Unquestionably the COVID crisis has affected the apprentice’s development journey. Courses that were booked have been canceled and all educational learning has shifted on-line. Everyone is adapting to the ‘new normal’, but like all individuals currently in education it is difficult not to feel somewhat disappointed for them as they are not currently able to have the ‘full experience’. Nevertheless, the educational aspects of the course are continuing and I am sure they will both pass the course with flying colours.
During the lockdown, unlike many other apprentices working in different industries, working in IT both Gus and Jake were able to work from home and neither were laid off nor furloughed. In a work context though, I do consider that valuable learning and skills development whilst not lost has been certainly hindered. I am a strong believer that apprentices need structure, guidance, supervision, and support and this cannot always be easily achieved via skype calls alone, particularly when they are working in their bedrooms!
Thankfully, since July current COVID restrictions are such that we have gradually brought them back into the office environment a couple of days a week which has been beneficial to both them and also the company. They work the remainder of their week home-based. Clearly, at the moment no one can second guess what COVID restrictions may or may not be further imposed, but as an employer, we can only operate with what is in front of us.
The success of the first year with Gus and Jake has been such that despite the challenging current operating environment, we as a company in September decided to take on our third apprentice in twelve months. Having learned our lessons from the original selection processes finding the right new apprentice was much easier. Jake is now transitioning into a different project role within the company which is more customer-facing and our new apprentice has slotted into Jake’s old role.
Joe joined us in September. As a slightly more mature apprentice, he was looking for a career change and decided that he needed to take a slight back step to move into the industry that he feels he will be best suited to in the longer- term. He brings with him a good set of customer service skills and a passion for IT. As I said this time last year in respect of Gus and Jake time will tell, but one month in initial signs again bode well. Good luck Joe!
At such a difficult time for young adults seeking employment it is incumbent upon employers big and small to think about creating opportunities if they can. The apprenticeship scheme whilst by no means perfect has been a great way to attract young talent. If anyone did want to speak in any more depth about the scheme and how it has worked for us by all means drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Equally, Abavus in this journey have been well supported by the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals.