How apprenticeships have had a positive impact at Unique IQ

Apprenticeships are great for businesses, particularly small to medium-sized businesses like Unique IQ. Over the years, we’ve had a number of apprentices move up through the ranks of our software development team – bringing many positive influences to the business.

The business benefits of apprenticeships

  • Develop new, relevant skills amongst your team – the blend of study and on-the-job training that apprenticeships provide mean that you can shape your team closely to the skills your business needs
  • Improve productivity – a survey from UK Government found that 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them to improve productivity
  • Improve the quality or your product or service – in the same survey, 74% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve quality thanks to new skills and new ideas
  • Save on costs – taking advantage of government funding for apprenticeships can help lower costs of recruitment as well as providing an opportunity to upskill existing staff
  • Promote loyalty amongst your team – starting out as an apprentice is a great way to grow with a company and 90% stay on after completing their qualification
  • Diversify your workforce – apprenticeships provide opportunities for people from a much wider range of backgrounds to embark on a chosen career path, than some more traditional educational routes, and will often bring with them a fresh perspective

To learn more about why Unique IQ loves apprenticeships, we caught up with Operations Director, Cheryl Guest 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 two apprentices who are working towards their Level 4 Software Developer Apprenticeship. We have also employed a number of apprentices over the years, for example Bruno and Oskar, who have recently graduated from their Level 4 apprenticeships and are now progressing through our development team. We’ve also had a couple who have finished and moved on. 

What made Unique IQ hire apprentices?

Apprentices have helped bring a fresh, positive attitude into Unique IQ which has revitalised existing 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. Unique IQ has almost tripled our workforce over the past 2-3 years 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 into 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 that 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 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. 

Visit our jobs page for more information about starting a career as a software developer with Unique IQ.