Watch too much television and you’ll get an entirely unrealistic idea of what an apprentice is. Particularly, you’ll see contestants falling over themselves to get hired by a cold, disapproving company, acting as though it stands to gain nothing in return. It’s an entirely one-sided relationship and, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s bollocks.
Red River is proud to partner with the University of Chichester to offer a degree apprenticeship programme. We don’t just do it out of a desire to invest in the community: when it comes to working with apprentices we get as much out of it as the students. So let’s set the record straight.
Businesses such as Red River will only prosper if there’s an available pool of talented coders we can take on to help us deliver and support great work. But there’s a UK-wide talent shortage: research by Tech City UK found that more than 50% of our digital technology companies struggle to hire the highly skilled staff they need.
Nearly a quarter said it was a major challenge, and that’s certainly been our experience – the Gatwick Diamond region has an acute skills shortage, which combined with the upward pressure on salaries can put a choker on business growth. We realised that to protect our future we needed to develop our own talent pipeline through graduate recruitment and school engagement. And when the opportunity came to help the University of Chichester launch its degree apprenticeship course, it was the perfect extension to these activities.
More than this
So, on one level the apprenticeship programme helps us find and develop affordable and talented staff, but in practice there’s far more to it than that. We’ve been stunned by the ideas, ability and sheer graft of the apprentices we’ve worked with so far. James Seden Smith – our first apprentice – brought in-depth knowledge of a programming language we hadn’t used extensively before, and before long was able to lead with it on a live customer project – helping us deliver more quickly and more profitably.
Within a year James has worked his way from junior software engineer to a full-stack developer, and continues to put his energy, enthusiasm and abundant ideas into every aspect of the business. With his feedback, we’ve been able to develop and refine the apprenticeship programme itself, to the benefit of our latest apprentices Adam, Luke and Dylan.
Watch the video to learn more about what our University of Chichester apprentices do. Yes, they stand to gain experience and skills in a supportive and structured work environment, but as you can see, Red River and its customers benefit too. Through apprenticeships, employers such as Red River get a better quality of more experienced software developer, and the economy benefits from young talent entering the workplace three years earlier than it might otherwise have done.
So let’s not distract ourselves with reality TV: in the real life Apprentice, everybody wins.