Thursday, 6 September 2018

How Apprenticeships Are Accelerating Digital Transformation in SMEs

It’s an established fact that apprentices progress their careers more quickly by learning on the job, but Boston Digital’s all-star IT apprentice Cameron Fuller has taken this advantage to a new level.

Cameron was determined from the outset that he would complete his apprenticeship as quickly as regulations allow” says Venessa Cox, the Firebrand Learning Mentor who has been supporting Cameron during his Level 4 Software Developer apprenticeship at software house Boston Digital. “When I told him he’d be able to complete in mid-September, he corrected me with the exact date!”

Cameron saw straight away that only an apprenticeship could give him the experience that employers were looking for. “When I was at sixth form looking at university options, it just didn’t seem like the right route – you come out with lots of debt and not much experience. I know people who’ve left uni and are working in bakeries because they’ve got no experience, so no-one would hire them.”

Reaping the benefits of working in a smaller business

While many committed apprenticeship candidates would aim their search at big household-name firms, Cameron was keen to do the opposite. “I thought a small company would have more time to teach you, whereas in a big company you’d be thrown to the side. Also with a small company it feels like you’re making more of a difference with the work you do.”

Since joining Boston Digital in July 2017, Cameron has definitely made the truth of this clear. His contribution to the company’s build projects – including leading development of a cashback app and developing extensions and AI tools for a car management service – has been outstanding. Jarek Bielicki, Cameron’s mentor at Boston Digital, says “Cameron has made significant progress since joining Boston Digital. He brings passion and energy to every project he works on and is a real asset to the company.”

Venessa has been extremely impressed by Cameron’s motivation; “His current projects could potentially be sold by the company to make money. He’s driving these projects and there’s not a lot of mentoring that needs to go on.”

Accelerating a career with faster learning

So what, in Cameron’s view, has been the best thing about his apprenticeship? “Seeing the progression from how you were when you started. Working on the job, you’re gaining skills constantly – you look at how far you’ve come and what you can do now.”

Firebrand’s intensive courses have speeded Cameron’s progress along that bit faster. “Every course I’ve been on, the instructors have helped me. It can be a bit intense but it works pretty well – I passed a Microsoft exam in four days!”

Ensuring a strong employer-apprentice partnership

Cameron’s faith in Boston Digital’s ability to support him, as a smaller organisation, has been fully justified. “You definitely learn more [in a small company] – it feels like you have a bigger role, where in a big company you’d do one thing and they’d just keep you doing that one thing.” Has everyone in the company helped him learn? "Massively! Working with a small group of people, you get to know everyone. You become more like friends than colleagues.”

Jarek explains that apprentices are integral to the company’s future plans; “We currently have three apprentices at Boston Digital, all of whom play an important role. Apprentices are keen to learn, can bring fresh ideas and creative energy to the company and will form a key part of our long term recruitment strategy.”

Venessa is confident that Cameron is set for a stratospheric career. “He’s a delightful person to be around – an extremely gifted bright shining star. I think we’ll see brilliant things from him in the future.”