National Apprenticeship Week 2020 - Making Waves

We conclude our series of interviews for National Apprenticeship Week 2020 with our Operations Director, Cheryl Guest, to give us an employer’s perspective.

Cheryl’s role includes the recruitment process, daily task assignments and being the bridge between the apprenticeship scheme and the business.

We caught up with Cheryl to discuss the advantages of hiring apprentices and what they have brought to Unique IQ.

How many apprentices does Unique IQ hire?

Unique IQ currently has 3 apprentices. We have employed a number of the years, for example Scott who has now progressed to Product Manager for IQ:timecard. We’ve also had a couple who have finished and moved on. 

Cheryl Guest, Operations Director at Unique IQWhat made Unique IQ hire apprentices?

Apprentices have helped bring a fresh, positive attitude into Unique IQ which has revitalised current staff. Of the apprentices we have hired, they always come in with a willingness to learn, and often bring in new ideas and a fresh perspective of our working approach – which has helped us to continually change and improve our working environment. 

What has Unique IQ gained from employing apprentices? 

Recruitment has also been a big element for us. Over the last 18 months, Unique IQ has almost tripled in our workforce and the apprentices have been a part of this. Not only have they saved us cost on recruitment, but as we know from our experience, they like to remain working with us in a long-term role. 

We have also found that our apprentices have helped our company image. When we talk to organisations and potential customers and mention apprentices, it’s always well received, they see us as a forward-thinking business.

Do apprenticeships take up additional time in the workday?

There is an element of mentoring apprentices, but there is ultimately an advantage of this as they are picking up the smaller development jobs which take up time in the day. Through giving the apprentices these tasks, it is freeing up our senior workforce who can focus on the highly technical areas of the software development process. And these smaller tasks are the best way to get stuck in to the practicalities of coding and learning on the job.

Do you receive support from the college/apprenticeship scheme?

Yes, we have regular on-site visits and chats from the company who run the current independent apprenticeship scheme. We know what we should be teaching and what their end goal is, we are fully aware all the way through for where we focus our training and guidance. 

When recruiting apprentices, is there anything in particular you look for in their personality/skill/experience?

Aptitude and willingness to learn. For example, Oskar came to us with no coding experience. He came to us from day one with the plan to get stuck in and learn as much as he can. Now although he is still an apprentice, he is a very valued member of staff – they all are.  

Would you recommend taking on apprentices to other companies?

Absolutely, for all of the reasons above and more.