This year, the theme of National Apprenticeship Week is “skills for life”.
Are apprenticeships really a good way of gaining “skills for life”? What opportunities can they give you? Do we recommend them? What are the benefits of hiring an apprentice?
Inspired by these questions, our team share their experiences. From Will, our current apprentice, to Matt, Katie and Kris, whose Infotex journeys began as apprenticeships and finally from our managers Cameron and Ant on what it is like to hire apprentices into the company.
“This apprenticeship has been a great opportunity for me to get both hands on experience in my job role, whilst also getting the benefit of studying in order to complete my qualification.”
Will – Studio Apprentice
I help on the client support desk and with digital marketing alongside studying for my Business Administration qualification. Through this I have learnt the fundamentals of how Infotex operates, as well as specific tasks such as carrying out audits of clients’ websites and examining how to improve their SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in order to drive visitors and visibility to their site. I am enjoying the apprenticeship because the hands-on experience of working while learning suits me as an individual.
It is challenging as a lot of the work is very technical, so I work closely with Tim for the digital marketing, and Matt for the support desk. They have been excellent for my development and are always available for any questions I have. Cameron, my mentor, has been very important because he makes sure I’m on course regarding both the job role and my coursework for the qualification. The apprenticeship lasts for one year minimum, and I plan to pass at a distinction level this July and hopefully go on to become a full-time employee.
I’d recommend an apprenticeship as it benefits you both as a worker, giving you vital experience, and as a learner studying about the role. This makes it a more comfortable transition to potential full-time employment.
“If you approach an apprenticeship with the right attitude and mindset then it can be really beneficial to both the individual and the business.”
Matt – Account Executive
I started my apprenticeship when I was 17, so I still had to be in some form of education. After studying Business Studies for a year at college, I had a real drive to get out and work full time. An apprenticeship offered me the best opportunity for that, and I was fortunate that Infotex (where I’d had two previous work experience placements) were looking to fill their IT Professional apprenticeship position.
My Infotex apprenticeship started back in October 2017 and really helped shape my career. Not only did it allow me to get my foot in the door at a really exciting and friendly company, but it has allowed me to understand what I enjoy and what I’m skilled at. Our support manager Cameron took me under his wing and has constantly offered fantastic leadership, making sure that I’m given the best possible opportunities. Infotex as a whole is a team full of supportive people, which has made the transition into more senior roles as comfortable as possible!
After my apprenticeship, I was employed in a full-time support role. Over the years I have gradually been transitioning into more account and project management. I hope to continue getting opportunities to enhance my learning and focus more on account management.
I would certainly recommend an apprenticeship, whether that’s to a young person starting a working life, or to adults who are looking to pursue a career in a different sector. If you approach an apprenticeship with the right attitude and mindset then it can be really beneficial to both the individual and the business. I personally have to give credit to everyone at Infotex, who’ve all been very generous with the time (and patience) they’ve given to help me progress as I have.
“You learn so many skills ‘out in the field’ that you just can’t learn in a classroom.”
Katie – Production Manager
Back in August 2006, I was offered a job (not an apprenticeship) at an estate agents as well as an apprenticeship position at Infotex, but I felt that the apprenticeship offered more opportunities for growth and development, and websites sounded more exciting to me than selling houses! Since the Business Administration apprenticeship, my development through the company has evolved from Production Executive > Production Studio Manager > Account Manager and finally Production Manager which is my current role.
I’ve been at Infotex for more than 16 years, in that time I have grown hugely in my self-confidence and achieved things I never thought I was capable of. I’m really proud to have worked my way up through the company alongside many colleagues who have been here longer than me. I have recently taken leadership of our content marketing and I’ve found it’s something that I really enjoy. I’d love to grow my skills in this area and work closely with our content team to strengthen our marketing this year.
I would absolutely recommend an apprenticeship. In my opinion it’s the perfect balance of working whilst gaining a qualification, and you learn so many skills ‘out in the field’ that you just can’t learn in a classroom.
“As Fat Boy Slim said (sampling Camille Yarbrough) “we’ve come a long long way together, through the hard times and the good.”
Kris – Account Manager
I was the first ever Infotex apprentice back in April 2001. My roles included general admin duties (filing, answering the phone) and updating website content (this was before the ubiquity of content management systems so HTML knowledge required). After my apprenticeship I was employed full-time, continuing with general duties, helping the project manager, and then moved on to the support team, and finally into project and account management where I am now.
An apprenticeship provides a hands-on, practical basis in the world of work, and enables a person to become an asset to a company while learning and gaining a qualification.
The Managers’ Point of View
“We’re able to offer someone a place to learn and gain experience in an industry where they might not have had the chance otherwise”
Cameron – Customer Support Manager
The main thing about hiring an apprentice is that this is not just a job for them, it’s their way into an industry and career that they want to do long term. An apprenticeship is like an extremely long interview. Not only do we have several months getting to know the apprentice, it also gives them time to see how things work and decide if this is what they want to be doing.
An apprenticeship doesn’t always work out well, but when it does, it really does. We’re able to offer someone a place to learn and gain experience in an industry where they might not have had the chance otherwise, and hopefully offer somewhere to work once they’ve completed the apprenticeship. It’s real work that makes them a vital part of the team.
“I will always be very grateful to those of our employees who joined as apprentices and have stayed on for the duration – you know who you are.”
Ant – Managing Director
By training our own people from the outset, the teamwork is natural. We are able to invest the time and training needed to create an employee who knows their way round all the nooks and crannies of Infotex. There is no substitute for having a team who are deeply experienced.
We started with apprentices in the early 2000’s because they were cheap to employ! But over time we have found that apprentices simply make the best employees and are amongst the strongest team members. Our employees who have joined at a higher level have also, I think, benefited from our apprentices, from the core culture that they help bring, by which I mean that our company values are already the truth about us, not merely aspirations. And we remain fond of and proud of those who apprenticed with us and then moved on.
I will always be very grateful to those of our employees who joined as apprentices and have stayed on for the duration – you know who you are. Your loyalty and trustworthiness are beyond value to a small company which is handling a lot of tech and data. In just over 20 years we have counted more than 120 people employed in Infotex, some for years, some for weeks, and you are the binding force which sustains our development.