Rob tells all and answers the common questions he is faced regarding apprenticeships.
It has been 17 months since the launch of Bluecube’s apprenticeship scheme 'Bluecube Academy', so we spoke to Rob, the Head of Talent and Development who manages and oversees the apprentices through their journey here. Rob has been passionately leading them through the process and all the other aspects that come alongside it.
What are your thoughts about the scheme reaching 1 year?
I think it’s amazing and I am so excited for the future. Our apprentices have been so integral to our growth as a business and seeing them develop and reach this point has been very special. Our apprentices have brought so much to the company by bringing their fresh perspectives and attitudes, and they have completely transformed their skills and knowledge. They are becoming the young professionals of the future and we’re very proud to have them here.
Can you tell us more about the growth of the scheme since its launch?
It has been huge! Our first cohort of 8 apprentices joined in August/September 2021. Another cohort of 8 then joined in December/January 2022. Last summer, between July and September 2022, we then gained another 30 apprentices so as you can imagine, the growth has been great.
Those who started over 12 months ago, are now nearing their final assessments and have been pulling together their reports, evidence, learning journals and project work into a final portfolio. Their work will then be assessed and an independent assessor from the British Computer Society will interview the apprentices.
When we first looked at bringing in apprentices last year, it was with a view centred around growth. We are a growing business and wanted to take on new people that we can train to be the engineers of the future; we will do this every year so we can continue growing and so can they. We do not have a ‘one size fits all' view because in the IT industry, things are always changing and the best way to develop is by learning and developing alongside the business.
What pieces of advice do you have for someone considering an apprenticeship?
If you are someone who wants to gain valuable work experience and further your education at the same time, consider an apprenticeship. They are a great blend of learning and work experience, where you will learn from further education and get invaluable hands-on experience at the same time.
If getting a degree is important to you or your family, it's worth noting that our scheme ranges from a Level 3 ICT apprenticeship, up to Level 7. Level 6 is equivalent to Degree level and Level 7 is Master's level. Degree apprenticeships are very rewarding, and you get to enter the world of careers in IT whilst gaining your qualifications.
We have an amazing team, office, ethos and opportunity to grow here. It’s essential to find a company that will appreciate you as an apprentice and value you. If ever students want to tour the office or speak to one of us, I am more than happy to arrange this. I really enjoy being able to show people around the office and answer any questions, because it lets them get a feel for the company, the culture and their potential journey here.
What have been the highlights for you since the launch of the scheme?
There have been so many, it's very hard to pick out a few but I’d have to say I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunities to talk to people about it. I’m so passionate about Bluecube Academy and it’s been great to see more people interested in becoming apprentices.
I really enjoyed the MK Job Show we recently attended, as I was able to speak to many parents and students wanting to learn more about the scheme. And being able to inform parents and address any of their questions is hugely important too. I think attending places like this is extremely important as it gives prospective apprentices a chance to enquire face-to-face and have real, honest conversations about their journey. I have also been attending local schools and colleges in Milton Keynes, Bedford and Northampton, partaking in employability events with some other Bluecube staff members. This has been so rewarding as it has allowed us to gain an insight into what prospective students are considering for their future and again, we can have amazing conversations about Bluecube apprenticeships and what they can offer to them. Many students have heard of apprenticeships, but lack the knowledge about what they entail and how they can benefit both their careers and education.
Another key moment has been being able to invite classes from local schools and colleges to the office and show them around, give talks on what it's like working at Bluecube and just let them experience it for themselves. It’s very exciting for us all and working with local schools is something we have and are going to be doing a lot more of in the coming months.
And of course, the most rewarding thing has been seeing the apprentices develop and grow so well. Some have been taking their final assessments and seeing them tie up their final pieces and reflect on their journey since starting is special.
What makes Bluecube’s apprenticeship scheme unique?
As I said, I think the scheme is amazing and we really invest in our apprentices.
They’re treated as proper employees from day 1. We hire them on a permanent contract, knowing that we will be offering a role and a long-term career opportunity at the end of it. When I was asked to take on the Bluecube Academy apprenticeship scheme last year, I emphasised how important it was to me that the apprentices were not to be treated differently and that they must be recruited on a permanent basis from the start.
We are dedicated to ongoing training and development, for all of our employees - both technical training and soft skills training to ensure ongoing development and progression.
Can you tell us about the most memorable success stories so far?
I wouldn’t be able to name just one. But hearing feedback about how incredible the apprentices have been both internally and with our customers really makes me happy
Internally, they are constantly being celebrated for their hard work and achievements in and out of Bluecube and it's so well deserved. Our apprentices work so hard and deserve all the praise they get. They fulfil important roles here at Bluecube, as well as doing their coursework, and attending training one day a week. They are putting in a lot of work to achieve great things for themselves and it's incredible to see.
From clients, many of them have reached out to us specifically to give feedback about the amazing service they have received from our apprentices.
"Fantastic service, as always. If there is a prize for best feedback then they should definitely win it"
"Absolutely Fabulous!! As always!"
"Excellent service, issue resolved very quickly. They were responsive, helpful and professional. Thank you!"
"He was super helpful. Very professional and friendly and helped resolve my query quickly. Thank you for your help :)"
"Excellent service. Speedy, helpful and professional. Issue resolved immediately. Thank you"
Are there any common questions the apprentices have?
There have been two common questions I’ve had many times...
From prospective apprentices, many have asked me “Will I be offered a permanent role at the end of my apprenticeship” and the answer is yes! We take people on with a permanent contract from the start and continue that way, knowing there will be a role at the end. Apprentices are integral to our growth as well as their own, and we train them in a way that allows them to develop alongside the business so they can be the engineers of the future.
From the latest intake of apprentices, a lot of them asked me “How quickly can I start working in one of the teams?”. It’s lovely to see how eager they are to begin working in one of the support teams and how much they are enjoying being a part of the teams they are working with. Our ICT apprenticeship scheme is designed to allow the apprentices to rotate between different support teams. It allows them to learn and experience different aspects of the range of services offered by Bluecube.