LDN Apprenticeships #WomenInTech @ Aspect Capital

LDN Apprenticeships #WomenInTech @ Aspect Capital

Did you know only 17% of the current roles in tech within the UK are filled by women?

We are inundated with applications at LDN Apprenticeships from young women looking to kickstart their career in tech roles such as Software Development, Digital Marketing and IT & Support.

There is currently a 50/50 split of male and female applicants for our pathways. So why is there such a gap in diversity within the current tech workplace in the UK? It’s time for something to change and bridge the diversity gap!

We teamed up with Aspect Capital to provide a unique work experience day for seven AWESOME young software development candidates who applied for an apprenticeship with us! The day was packed with talks, Q&A sessions and workshops provided by the top tech talent currently working within the tech department at Aspect Capital. They were able to provide valuable insight into their experiences in becoming a software developer and the roles and tasks they play within the company.
My’a Douglas and Emily Bamford were two of the young women who attended on the day and found the workshops and talks hugely beneficial as part of their early development into starting a career in software development.

“I found the whole day very informative and professional” said Emily.

 

“I’m going to go away with a lot of information and feel a lot more confident in going home and doing my own coding! It will also help me generate more ideas and conduct more research into software development.”

My’a agreed that the knowledge she’s going to take away from the day and the workshops they participated in were hugely beneficial and completely different to what she has previously done!

I really enjoyed today! It was a lot different to what I’ve previously learnt and I’ve gained more hand on experience and learnt new languages as well!

 

I loved the workshops and what I learnt from them but it was also interesting to see how the company works and what roles software developers play in Aspect Capital.

Gemma Hagen is the lead developer within the software development team at Aspect Capital and being one of the 17% of women currently working in tech within the UK, was the perfect person to give advice and call on her own personal experiences.

 “We wanted to give them a bit of insight into what type of opportunities there are in the industry and what being a software developer is like.

 

I think software is still unfortunately stereotyped as an industry that is better suited to males. 

 

Obviously, I am a girl in software development and I strong heartedly disagree with that notion!

 

Anything that encourages women into the industry is hugely beneficial for everyone in it.”

Events like our #WomenInTech work experience day at Aspect Capital go long way in helping bridge the diversity gap and end the stigma surrounding the tech industry that still exists.

Allowing our candidates to experience and spend time with those who currently work within the tech industry on a professional platform gives them an opportunity that many young women before them may not have had.

The next step is now getting these eager and enthusiastic young women into tech roles across London and allowing companies to reap the benefits of injecting fresh talent into their teams and futureproofing their business.

Thank you to everyone at Aspect Capital and to the seven AWESOME young women who attended on the day and made it such a rewarding event to put on. It’s time to bridge the diversity gap!

If you’re thinking of HIRING an apprentice with us, click on the link below to discover more!

If you’re thinking of BECOMING an apprentice, click on the link below and find out how!

The Pros in Hiring School Leavers

The Pros in Hiring School Leavers

Many businesses that don’t traditionally employ school leavers have understandable concerns about working with 16 to 19 year-olds, but are they fair?  

I have worked alongside school leavers for most of my career. From student recruitment at the Telegraph and The Independent to my time at UCAS and finally in my current role at the LDN Apprenticeships, I feel I have built up a good understanding of the pros and cons.

At London Apprenticeships, we know that young people have the potential to help companies become better versions of themselves, to grow and to be more forward thinking. Quite often, however, our clients have concerns about hiring apprentices.

 

They Are A Blank Slate

School leavers may not have all the skills you want. But with the support of a good apprenticeship provider and a great manager, they will develop all the skills they need, tailored to the needs of the business.

You also have the flexibility to identify skills and aptitudes as your apprentice grows into their role and to adapt it accordingly. Graduates are not always equipped with the specific skills you need, and they have more rigid expectations about the job they expect to be doing.

For example, Computer Science graduates have the highest unemployment rates at 14% of any graduate despite the digital skills gap.  Why? They just don’t have the skills employers actually need.

They Have A Unique Perspective

Don’t be afraid of a young person’s different perspective, especially if your workforce is generally older. The perspective a young person offers can give fresh impetus to your business and allow you to reach a much wider audience.

They Question How Things Are Done 

They are eager to learn. If something is done in a way they are unsure of, they want to know why.  This might be initially frustrating, but they only ask because they are keen to learn and understand. Sometimes a little bit of naivety can be a good thing! Conversely how often do you question current processes? Perhaps there is a better way to do things? A school leaver could be the person to spark the process of improving.

They Approach Problems Differently 

With an innate understanding of modern technology, young people have a fountain of knowledge at their fingertips and the know-how to access it.  This can lead to solutions you would not normally have thought of.  It’s always good to have options.

Understand How Their Peers Communicate 

If you want to reach a youthful audience, young apprentices can be ideal for this. The way their peers communicate can give you a great insight into which channels and language to use. Just be aware that not all young people are the same!

Futureproof Your Business 

Quite simply, having flow continuous flow of new, young people into your business is the best way to futureproof it. Fresh ideas and new skills come with your apprentices. Apprentices represent a cost-effective means of bridging the digital skills gap. Because you’ve given them the opportunity, they’re loyal and totally invested in your business.

 

These are just some of the positives – of course, there are many more.

Keep an eye out for my next piece where I’ll be discussing some of the challenges that our clients face when hiring school leavers and how working with LDN Apprenticeships can help to overcome them.

Five Tips On How To Harness Gen-Z Talent To Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts.

Five Tips On How To Harness Gen-Z Talent To Supercharge Your Marketing Efforts.

Hire a digital marketing apprentice, they say!  

Young people today are digital natives, they’ve grown up with social media, they’re …. digital natives! 

Seldom has a statement been more misleading than this one. The truth is that it’s very unlikely that a young person will be able to walk into your business and take over the management of your digital marketing single handed.  

So why is digital marketing one of the most popular apprenticeships around for employers and young people? And how can you effectively harness the talent of a young person to supercharge your marketing efforts? 

First, you need to stop being led by the myth. The average aspiring digital marketer is not going to have the vast knowledge required to effectively build and execute your digital campaigns on their own. They will, at the very least, need the support and guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable manager. Along with a working environment where they can learn all the skills that good digital marketers need to have. 

Second, you should look for young people who have experience outside of social media platforms, and focus your attention on those who can demonstrate how they have harnessed the power of social media to create something.  This could be anything from building a following on a YouTube channel to making, marketing and selling products online.  

Here at LDN Apprenticeships, we meet young people on a daily basis who have done just this. It’s not on their CV and in some cases they are even shy or embarrassed to share their achievements. 

That said, these are the young people who have applied their creativity to a real world situation and who have made something as a result. Be it a product, a following or a movement – these young people have the skills you need in your business.  

If you make the decision to hire one of these brilliant, creative young people there are some important things to consider in the process. Here are our 5 top tips: 

 

1. Make sure you identify an awesome manager 

Your Apprentice Digital Marketer will spend at least 80% of their time at work. You want to be sure that while they’re there, they’re learning new things, taking action and improving. The best way to make this work is to identify a manager who will give the apprentice the support and guidance they need. Combined with the support of your apprenticeship provider, you’ll be astonished at how much your apprentice learns in a very short space of time. 

 

2. Define the role to fill skills gaps in your existing team 

Make sure you look at your current marketing skill set. Then try to recruit an apprentice who fills some of the gaps. If you’re weak on video production, actively seek a young person who’s a talented video editor. Or if you think you could do with a boost to your copywriting capacity, look for a young person who gets your tone and writes well. Approaching it in this way, means you’re actively avoiding the pitfalls of the mythical digital native. 

 

3. Look for a self-starter 

When you meet candidates for the opportunity, talk to them about what they have done with their passion for all things digital. Have they studied something outside of school or college (there are a wealth of free and very well publicised online courses)? Have they started a business of their own? Or have they helped a friend with their digital savvy-ness. Taking action is the first step – the thing to work out is if you can harness that initiative. 

4. Put rules and structure in place to measure and manage 

When you’ve hired your apprentice, make sure you’ve got a structure in place. Making it easy to measure and manage performance. Most people (young ones included) respond incredibly positively. Knowing the why, the what, the how and the when of their job. Make this incredibly clear from the outset.

5. Give direct feedback and reward success 

If you are successful in doing 1, 2, 3 and 4, then you’ll find yourself a talented young person who is eager to learn and take action. No matter how talented they are, they will still make mistakes. It is critical that when they do, you give them direct feedback. The ability to take feedback is critical to learning and development. Finally, just as you give direct feedback, you should also reward success. This doesn’t mean throwing bonuses around, it just means giving praise when praise is due. 

 

Digital marketing will always be evolving on a day to day basis.

Recruiting young apprentices are a great way to discover new and exciting marketing opportunities for your business. Keeping one of your most important outputs to the world fresh and up-to-date.

To learn more about hiring a digital marketing apprentice into your team, check out our Tech LDN digital marketing program HERE.

Truth or Convenient Narrative: There Is No Reason for the Tech Skills Shortage

Truth or Convenient Narrative: There Is No Reason for the Tech Skills Shortage

Why Apprentices Are ready To Fill The Tech Void

 

With the relentless rise of digital tech in the modern-day workplace, you’d be forgiven for thinking that employers were universally on top of their strategy for attracting, retaining and developing digital talent. 

 

If recent reports are to go by though, this is far from the truth. And it’s only getting worse! 

 

According to a skills shortage report published by the Edge Foundation, there are 600,000 tech jobs that companies just can’t fill. These vacancies are costing the UK economy £63 BILLION a year. 

 

What struck me most about this figure is the sheer scale of it! 600,000 vacancies don’t just appear overnight. These vacancies have been appearing (and going unfilled) in the UK’s technology ecosystem for years.

 

So why is there STILL a shortage Within The Tech Industry?  

 

There are two reasons.

 

Firstly, UK companies are obsessed with their productivity today. Don’t get me wrong, of course this is vital to business, but there seems to be a lack of focus on the medium term in many large or growing businesses. With Brexit on the horizon, it’s more important than ever for UK Plc to start hedging by investing in talent that will become the future workforce.

 

Secondly, there is an issue with the process. There is currently no scalable, trusted process which is widely adopted by companies to fast track young talent into positions where they are productive. University takes at least three years, and very few graduates are instantly productive. Schools certainly don’t produce huge numbers of highly productive, work-ready young people.  

 

Here at The London Group, we believe that one of the answers lies somewhere in the middle. What schools do produce is thousands of young people whose only limitation is that they do not have the network or the training they need to become productive workers, quickly.

 

These young people have bucket loads of energy and enthusiasm, but they fall at the first hurdle because too many employers are obsessed with an instant return.  

 

What Tech Skills Do Our Applicants Already Have?

 

Every day, The London group is inundated with young people looking to start a career within the tech industry.

 

Many of our apprentices are self-taught, learning skills which fall way outside of the school curriculum. This includes courses as varied Google Digital Garage, Microsoft’s Virtual Academy, Technet Virtual Labs, Udemy, Codecademy, Pluralsight, Salesforce Trailheads and even using good ol’ YouTube to investigate, learn and apply new skills. 

 

Furthermore, if you dig a little deeper, many of these same young people are running their own social channels. They’re building software and IT networks to solve problems in their daily lives, or producing incredible content to tell the story of something they’re passionate about.

 

How many of them would tell you about this on their CV… none, or at least very few. Worse still, how many of their CVs would even make it to the screen of your laptop? Fewer still. And how many would you give a job to? Well… you get the point. 

 

Why Apprenticeship Providers Can Bridge The Gap In Tech Shortages.

 

Apprenticeship providers are seeing a completely different side of the skills shortage spectrum. Not only are we able to tap into a talent pool of eager and enthusiastic young people (there are over a million of these in London alone), we’re also able to harness the huge potential of diverse groups, such as women and other minorities, who are looking to get into the tech industry.

 

Proof: Only 17% of UK IT specialists are female. Here at The London Group, we have a 50/50 gender split of apprentices. Almost TRIPLE that of industry standard. 

 

So, apprenticeship providers are uniquely positioned to support employers in their efforts to bridge the skills gap. We have applicants applying for tech apprenticeships DAILY from a variety of different backgrounds. Whilst we have experienced industry professionals who can help these young people to become truly productive workers, and quickly. And we have the support of a government backed apprenticeship system which funds everything we do!  

 

What we lack are the employers who are willing to look ahead to the not-too-distant future. Who take action, investing time and effort today to develop the talent and skills they require for tomorrow. If this does not happen, those 600,000 vacancies will only grow in number and in a year’s time we’ll be having the same conversation.  

 

In order to fill those 600,000 vacancies, employers must understand the world of work is changing. Digital is the new core skill for the modern economy. It is now critical that companies begin to address bridge the gap between talented young people those 600,000 vacancies begin to get filled. 

 

The talent is out there and apprenticeship providers are ready to help fill those roles within the tech industry.   

How Can Your Business Benefit From Hiring An Apprentice?

How Can Your Business Benefit From Hiring An Apprentice?

Learning About Apprenticeships: How Can Your Business Benefit From Hiring An Apprentice? 

 

In my last blog, we talked about how young people can benefit from an apprenticeship. This week we discuss how businesses can reap the rewards of taking on an apprentice. 

 

There are many misconceptions about hiring an apprentice. More trouble than it’s worth? Additional cost in training and hiring? It’s a complicated process? Easier to hire a graduate? 

 

The truth is, these are valid points and issues. Can the same be said when hiring anyone within a youth role? 

 

If you were hiring a graduate fresh out of university, wouldn’t you spend time looking through applications, interviewing applicants and researching those who have applied? 

 

Hiring someone will always be time consuming. So why not take the time to hire the best possible person for the role? That person could be an apprentice. 

 

Understanding the costs and the Levy is a good starting point. Luckily, I dealt with a lot of these questions in my first blog ‘How Much Does Hiring And Being An Apprentice Cost?’. 

 

Looking past The Levy, an apprentice can relieve some of pressure off you and your team when they start.

 

Hiring an apprentice to take care of non-critical tasks frees up time within your busy workplace. This allows senior people within the business to concentrate on more important matters without paying a high premium for the extra help. 

 

Apprentice vs Graduate 

 

University graduates have long been the tried and tested junior recruitment channel for employers. With the introduction of the Levy by the government though, companies are increasingly seeing apprenticeships as recruitment option worth exploring. 

 

When hiring an apprentice, employers have an opportunity to test not only their knowledge, but their soft skills as well.  

 

Think of an apprentice as a blank canvas that you as an employer can work with. The apprentice already has – or is learning – the skills they need to do the role, but in terms of a particular level or standard you expect of an employee, you’re able to set this yourself. 

 

It’s almost like a cost-effective trial period. You’re given the opportunity to test the skills of your apprentice, with a view to hiring if they perform well. 

 

Whilst an apprentice will most definitely have an interest in your industry, it is still fair to say they haven’t had the benefit of gaining some life skills. Essentially, a bit of growing up! 

 

University allows a bit more time for young people to develop social skills and mature over the course of their degree. For apprentices, their work with you is coincided with their studying. 

 

Employers become the equivalent of university for apprentices. The young person spends their university years at the employer and within the workplace with their team. 

 

It would be unfair to tarnish all apprentices with this statement as each person is different. But be aware that this is a difference you may notice when comparing your options. 

 

What about the skill set and training of an apprentice? 

 

Many employers are worried about the skill set and knowledge of an apprentice within the required role.  

 

It’s easy to forget that every good apprenticeship is accompanied by a structured programme of learning. This helps apprentices to get up to speed quickly as they learn and experience new things throughout their time in an apprenticeship. 

 

Here at The London Group, we provide on-the-job training for every one of our apprentices at least monthly, as well as delivering regular classroom sessions at our training centre. This enables us keep in regular contact with both you and the apprentice throughout their time working within your business. 

 

This way, we’re able to keep up to date with not only their progress in the class room, but also how they’re progressing in the workplace. 

 

With all of the positive changes to apprenticeships outlined above, it would be foolish to completely disregard them as a channel for your next round of entry level recruitment.  

 

If you’re looking to improve and grow your company, there’s an untapped pool of talent in apprentices. Now more than ever is the time for businesses to take advantage of ALL the talent available to them. 

The Dangers of Overpraising

The Dangers of Overpraising

Danny (a fictional character for the purposes of this post) began his apprenticeship a few months ago. From the very first day of meeting him, his manager told him he was amazing, brilliant, his work was fantastic and he was ‘doing great’.

 

Fantastic, you may think, well done Danny! However, did praising Danny in this way, and letting things such as poor timekeeping go unnoticed, really help Danny to grow and develop?

 

The fact is that everyone (including apprentices and more experienced hires) has room for improvement. The apprentices are young, they have little or no experience of the ‘world of work’, but they come to us with bucket loads of potential and a desire to grow and develop within a supportive company.

  

I’m fascinated by the unintentional effect that ‘over-praising’ may have on an individual’s performance. Does it actually limit a person’s growth and development?

  

The following is an adapted version of the conclusions from one of Carol Dweck’s studies with children, that I think it would be great for all new managers to be aware of:

 

“It’s hard to believe, but here’s what happens. By telling students they are smart, they get this cool feeling from being labelled ‘smart’. Unfortunately, as they continue to work and face new challenges, they become risk averse – no one wants to lose the ‘smart’ label. They become afraid you will see them as failures, which causes them to think less creatively and become less willing to try harder tasks. Now, try to imagine the cumulative effect this might have over the course of an entire apprenticeship or career.”

 

Dweck’s observation is that by consistently giving overly positive feedback we may be removing the opportunity for the individual to be stretched and challenged. Stretch and challenge is commonly associated with making mistakes, learning from those mistakes and building resilience and confidence. 

 

Of course, when someone is smashing it in their new role and qualification work, we celebrate with them! But what sense of motivation, challenge and ambition do we leave that young person with if this praise is constant and they are commended for even the simplest and expected things such as turning up to work on time, finishing a job, or helping a colleague out?

 

Lisa Firestone captures the effects of overpraising beautifully in this short article: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201312/are-we-overpraising-our-children

 

In Danny’s case, and in the journeys of several other young people that I have been close to, it was not a happy ending. He was let go after several unsuccessful support interventions. The fact is that no matter how good you are at your job, if you don’t turn up every day with a positive and proactive attitude, employers will soon become frustrated and disillusioned. After all, they have a business to run.

 

In my experience, once a manager has overpraised their newest hire, it’s often too late; they soon realise that they were too ‘easy-going’ from the outset, and it is very difficult to then become strict about the basics.

 

Suddenly becoming strict and giving unexpected constructive feedback begins a wave of uncertainty, frustration and disappointment on both sides of the relationship. The apprentice feels they are a failure, inadequate, takes feedback as criticism, and communication breaks down on both sides.

 

It’s important to remember that whilst such studies are backed up by scientific research, every person and situation is unique with varying internal and external factors, for example for some with low confidence, a great deal of praise and encouragement may be necessary as this helps them to become more confident in themselves and in their new role.

 

In conclusion, apprenticeships are about young people learning but they also require line managers to learn too. At the LDN Apprenticeships, we work with managers at all stages of their journey in managing apprentices. From the matching process to monthly reviews and supporting their apprentices who are progressing into higher level qualifications and beyond.

 

We do this by being straight talkers and ensuring that we help people to get the basic right from day one. This honest, supportive feedback helps young people to develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be successful in the world of work.

 

Further reading on this fascinating subject can be found here:
https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/29/carol-dweck-mindset/

https://www.unk.com/blog/dangers-of-excessive-praise/

https://www.parentingscience.com/effects-of-praise.html