Northern Education Trust

IT support is vital within any modern workplace, with schools being no exception. We spoke to Ian Hutton at Dyke House Academy to find out how apprentices have become valuable members of their IT team.

What duties do apprentices take on within your IT department?

1st line support – they’re quite important actually because we’re a small team. They do become a valued asset. It’s mostly face-to-face customer support and general tasks such as toners, keyboards and things like that. When they come in they will manage tickets on our helpdesk system. Anything that they can’t do, they’re encouraged to try as much as possible.
If they’re struggling, there are other technicians onsite or within the team that they can escalate a ticket to. I do always encourage them to go with the senior member of staff to shadow them and pick up new skills. That’s what the job mainly involves, answering the telephone and emails and depending on their workload, they take the jobs as they come.

What sort of on the job training do they get?

They shadow other skilled members of technical staff. If there is a job that comes in, they are encouraged to help. They watch, take notes and then if they want to do it, we can set up a test environment and they can have a go. This is like a workshop, so it won’t affect any systems or anything. It helps them improve their skills because if they are interested in something, next time a job like that becomes available, we ask them to take the lead on it.

How has taking on apprentices impacted on your organisation?

It’s been a very positive impact. The apprentices that we’ve taken on have been very good and they’ve gone on to become employed by the trust as full time members of staff. It’s probably the second 6 months that they become more capable and happy to do more jobs unsupervised. They build up their confidence as they pick up new skills.
Their roles have evolved from doing generic tasks to being fully qualified engineers. They go on to do a combination of 1st and 2nd line support, so they end up doing lot more server work rather than just workstation tasks.

How has your experience of working with Baltic been so far?

Very good, no complaints. I think the online training is great. It was new to me as I was more used to a college environment. The way it works is beneficial to us as an employer because it’s condensed into a week so we can plan for it. It’s a big benefit because we’d get an email a few months before saying what weeks the apprentice will be having their training, so we can get cover arranged for it.

Would you recommend Baltic to other schools?

I would absolutely recommend Baltic to other schools. I know the trust has taken on apprentices through colleges in the past, but I would definitely recommend going down this route for apprenticeships.