What impact have apprentices had on Sopra Banking?
It’s been very positive! They’ve fitted in with the teams really well and we’ve found that we can delegate quite a lot of project work to the apprentices. We’ve been surprised at just how much work they can get on with once they’ve had their initial training.
How have you seen their skills and responsibilities improve over the course of their apprenticeships?
As the months have gone by, they have picked up the role and what is expected of them. We’ve been able to give them larger workloads as they progress and a couple of them have taken lead roles on some of the projects that we’ve been working on.
How have they got to that stage?
It’s been through gradual exposure. They’ve got to know the job and what it entails, starting with shadowing existing members of the team. We’ve had to check their work to start with to make sure everything is right, but then we’ve become quite assured that they know what they are doing. We’re happy with their performance and we’ve allowed them to grow and take on more responsibilities and projects.
What do you look for when recruiting an apprentice?
Willingness to learn is the key thing. We look for people who want to develop and learn new skills – people who want to have a career in the tech industry. Depending on the role, a bit of exposure to computer science at school or some good maths skills are also beneficial. They don’t have to have any previous work experience.
Has the apprenticeship levy affected the way that you recruit?
Prior to the apprenticeship levy, we didn’t have any apprentices. It wasn’t something that we’d considered as we brought in graduates straight from university. Then, once the levy was introduced, we were keen to make sure we got our money’s worth and spent what we were paying in.
We’d looked at adapting roles and making them a little bit more junior than before, to accommodate apprentices that we could bring in and train on the job.
The levy has been a positive thing for us as we wouldn’t have recruited at that level otherwise. We’re happy with who we’ve got out of it so it’s something that we are going to do more of. It’s made us look at recruiting in a different way, which has worked really well for us.
What advice would you give to employers who are unsure about apprenticeships?
I’d say just give it a go! Bring 1 or 2 apprentices into the business, make sure you give them the support they need in order to learn on the job, and then you will see the benefits. You might have to wait a few months but it’s certainly worth it. We’ve had some that have been with us for 2 years now and they’re in key roles within the team.
How has your experience of working with Baltic been so far?
Really good! Baltic provide the training for the majority of our apprentices and they are really responsive. There’s always someone available when we need it and they have excellent relationships with the apprentices’ line managers.
Would you recommend Baltic to other employers?
Yes, I definitely would. I think you’ve got a broad range of courses, you work well with both the managers and apprentices, and it seems to be a good level of communication throughout the whole apprenticeship.
Find out more about Sopra Banking here.