WOW! What can I say? I’ve just attended the graduation ceremony for our first cohort of Higher Apprentices at our office in London, and have had my mind totally blown. I should say that until I started at Capgemini, just over six months ago, I’d not had a huge amount of visibility of the wonderful world of apprenticeships. My background was largely in graduate and student recruitment, and I thought that apprentices would be much the same sort of thing. What a learning curve!
So the first expectation I had reset for me was just what an apprenticeship programme looked like. I’ve had the benefit of working over the last six months with my peers in a number of other organisations across multiple sectors, and there are as many different types of programmes as there are organisations. Naturally I’m a little biased, but I genuinely think (and I’ve been backed up by some external bodies who’ve given us awards for example The Learning Awards; The NAS Awards) that we have one of the very best out there. Our apprentices come into the organisation, and spend twelve weeks in what we lovingly refer to as our “Accelerated Learning Environment” (ALE for short). They’re taught all the tools of this particular trade, and then at the end of twelve weeks, they are expected to be “client ready” and sent out onto projects. AFTER TWELVE WEEKS!
Thinking back to myself at the same age, I would be lying if I said I think I would have been able to cope with the same. The Higher Apprentices I spoke to today at graduation saw it all as an incredibly positive experience. They talked about “being thrown in at the deep end”, but in a really positive way, and with universal good humour. They all reflected that they’d had the benefit of a phenomenal learning curve, that they’d been ably and amazingly supported by our wonderful programme team, and that they wouldn’t have done anything differently looking back. Without exception they felt that they had made a great decision.
And for us as an employer? Incredible! The people standing in front of me today were astoundingly confident, self-assured experts in their field. They talked with gravity about their experiences, and I can honestly say that they are a BRILLIANT advertisement for our organisation. This event has really brought into even sharper focus the importance of the work my team do... We need to find the next Hugette, the next James, the next Luke for our apprenticeship programme, the people with the potential to be standing in front of us in a few years time, talking about the amazing experiences they’ve had. I, for one, can’t wait – bring it on!