A computer savvy former City and Islington College (CANDI) student is excited about his future after gaining a place on a degree apprenticeship with global tech giant IBM.
Imtiyaz Rahman, 18, secured his place on the BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions apprenticeship after achieving D*D*D on an IT Level 3 Diploma last summer.
He spends four days working at IBM’s offices in Southwark and the one day studying at Northeastern University London, a hub of the university in Boston, Massachusetts.
Imtiyaz, from Westminster, revealed that his uncle and cousins had been a big influence on his decision to pursue an IT career at an early age.
“My interest stemmed from an initial desire to play computer games with them when I was about seven. My uncle knew how to build PCs and told me about the hardware and the key things I needed to know, and I began to get into it in more depth,” he said
Imtiyaz’s interest grew as he began to find out more about how computers work and the different components needed to build them, which enabled him to upgrade his own PC.
“I’m interested in many different aspects of IT. On the one hand I’m interested in the hardware side, but since I’ve been at IBM I’ve been shown some new aspects of software and cloud-based technology that I never knew about, which has also piqued my interest,” he said
“I’ve also learnt about AI and quantum computers, which are faster, more powerful and beyond any computers that most of us know today.”
Imtiyaz heard about the apprenticeship through his friends at CANDI. He also applied for another at Lloyds Bank, which although unsuccessful helped him better prepare for his application to IBM.
“I had my focus dead set on going to university and that was the way to my future career, but then my classmates started to tell me about degree apprenticeships,” he said.
“I didn’t expect to make it. With UCAS application you send off your application and personal statement, but with the degree apprenticeship I had to answer a lot more questions on why I want this role and why I am good at it as well as face-to-face interviews and a presentation.
“When I got the call to say I had got on the apprenticeship I was in the middle of class. I walked out of my lesson to take the call and they asked me about my results. There was this daunting silence and then they said I’d got the role, and I was super happy.”
Imtiyaz explained that the diploma at CANDI gave him a realistic expectation of what it would be like to work in IT and how it is applied in business, while also preparing him for degree level study.
“When I’m doing assignments for university, I’m using the same approach and research skills I learnt at college. The practical side on my course also meant I am now able to look at someone’s coding and have a general idea what it means,” he said.
“The teaching was rigorous and intense. It was great to have teachers who had passion for their subject and wanted to see their students grow as people and improve their skills.”
Imtiyaz explained that the degree apprenticeship was a great option because IBM cover his tuition fees and he is not just getting an education but a career.
“What I’ve learnt is that no one really knows what they want to do for the future and not to plan or have too many expectations because situations are always changing, so keep your options open,” he said.
“I am happy for the future because this is a potential career opportunity at a great company that’s well known within the industry, which will give me the skills and experience over the next three years that I might not have got at university.”
Find out more about Computing and IT courses and apply here.
She said: “I already had experience working in facilities and knew it was a field that I enjoy working in and was looking at ways to build my knowledge to progress in my career.
“I felt like I lacked some of the theoretical knowledge and ways to put that into practice. The apprenticeship filled in these gaps and helped me with my development and understand more about the many different areas you can specialise in within facilities management.
“The training I received also made me much more confident in my job and pushed me to challenge myself within my role. It also gave me the opportunity to take on additional tasks and projects to develop my skills.
“By the end of my apprenticeship, I had managed to progress from Facilities Coordinator to an Assistant Facilities Manager for the UK.”
Born in Lithuania, Laura previously worked in hospitality management and moved into facilities management four years ago and has no regrets about her decision.
“I enjoy how versatile you have to be to work within this industry. It is a very fast-paced environment that grows and changes constantly,” she said.
“You get exposed to a lot of different fields from finance, procurement and mechanical and electrical services to sustainability projects, health and safety, and much more. It’s never dull and always challenging. It’s also very rewarding as you can see how your work positively impacts people and your ideas come to life.”
Margaret Gotlib, Head of Apprenticeships at CCCT, said: “Laura is one of the many success stories from our facilities management apprenticeship programmes, which we have been running with some of the UK’s leading organisations in the sector for more than 15 years.
“Our strong relationships with employers mean our highly experienced tutors are aware of the skills the industry needs and are training people to the highest possible standard to enable them to progress in their careers.”
Find out more about our Facilities and Estates Management apprenticeships and apply here.
By Jackie Chapman, Managing Director, Capital City College Training
For years we have heard the same line: ‘the apprenticeship levy doesn’t work’ – whether that’s because of the disengagement of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME apprenticeship starts are half what they were before the levy was introduced), the drop in apprenticeship uptake by 16-18-year-olds, or the amount of unused levy returned to the Treasury (according to the Financial Times, employers have handed back more than £3bn in unspent levy cash over the last three years).
This is ineffective for the economy and unhelpful for the workforce. Apprenticeships should be a central part of the employment landscape for people of all ages. They are a genuine alternative to T Levels or university for many young people who are eager to start their careers sooner or learn on the job; and they are invaluable for adults already in the workforce, who want to develop new skills and qualifications without having to give up work to study.
But apprenticeship starts are now far lower than before the levy was introduced back in 2017. What can be done to reverse this? How can apprenticeships become popular again?
Recently, we attended the Labour and Conservative party conferences, where we hosted breakfast events with the London advocacy group BusinessLDN – discussions with our guests addressed apprenticeships and other pressing skills challenges.
As we see it, the apprenticeships challenge is threefold: firstly, how apprenticeships are promoted – especially to young people; secondly, how they are funded; and thirdly, how flexible they are – for employers, educators and apprentices.
If young people don’t know about apprenticeships, we can’t expect them to be interested in them. Many schools have failed to effectively point their 14–17-year-olds towards apprenticeships, as academic routes remain a central focus for schools.
The ‘Baker Clause’ should help this. Originally an amendment to the Technical and Further Education Act 2017 which was widely ignored by schools, the Baker Clause was made law in the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022. It requires schools to allow colleges and training providers access to every student in years 8 to 13 to discuss non-academic routes. It also states that schools need to impartially promote the full range of technical education qualifications and apprenticeships to their pupils.
The Baker Clause is an important part of a school or college’s careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) programme and, provided it is followed and enforced, it should widen pupils’ access to information about apprenticeships and other non-academic routes.
The introduction of T Levels may cause more confusion, so the message needs to be clear that apprenticeships are 80% in the workplace, whilst T Levels are 80% learning.
Funding and flexibility
The apprenticeship levy is the main mechanism for funding apprenticeships. Some £3.3 billion of unspent levy money has been returned to the Treasury over the last 3 years, so it’s fair to say that the level of funding is more than adequate.
Flexibility – what the levy money can be spent on and who can spend it – is where many of the problems, and opportunities, are. Businesses and apprenticeship providers have been calling on the Government to offer greater flexibility around the levy for years, but how would this look? And how would it work?
How do we improve the levy and encourage more apprenticeship starts?
It’s encouraging to see the Government responding to the sector’s conversations about the levy. In February of this year, Alex Burghart MP (then Skills Minister) introduced flexi-job apprenticeships and announced that businesses could transfer their surplus levy to other businesses to pay for their apprenticeship training.
Flexi-job apprenticeships aim to help sectors with short-term contracts to take on apprentices. Within this model, apprentices will be supported by their training provider to obtain multiple short-term contracts across different employers to complete their apprenticeship requirements.
We have already seen the benefits of this for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at CCCG’s training arm, Capital City College Training (CCCT). For instance, in the creative industry, CCCT have been working in partnership with the NextGen Skills Academy to enable SMEs who only focus on one key skill to cluster together to take on an apprentice. Each apprentice is subsequently able to learn each skill through a different business to complete their apprenticeship.
These initiatives are a positive step forward for helping to increase the number of apprenticeships, but there is a more fundamental issue for many employers which needs addressing – the cost of wages.
Employers tell us that they are deterred from taking on apprentices because they must pay their wages while the apprentice is still relatively inexperienced, especially when taking on 16–18-year-olds. In addition, many employers want to pay their apprentices more than the National Minimum Wage, because it’s the right thing to do and it would encourage more people to become apprentices.
So, we think that employers should also be able to use their levy funds to pay between half and two-thirds of their apprentices’ wage costs for the first year of their time with the company. Covering most of the salary for this period will help some employers pay their apprentices more and would be a powerful incentive to smaller businesses, as an extra pair of hands at a subsidised cost would never go amiss!
A levy reform along these lines could be structured like the Government’s Kickstart Scheme, released in September 2020. Kickstart provided funding to employers to create jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit, covering 100% of the National Minimum Wage – based on the workers’ age – for 25 hours per week.
By supporting employers with their wage costs in the short term, Kickstart enabled many small businesses to engage with young people and provide adequate support whilst they were developing their basic skills.
If the levy allowed for the funding of such a scheme, a valuable proportion of the apprentice’s salary would be paid until the they become skilled enough to not need continuous supervision – the reason why employers prefer to employ individuals who have sufficient skills to undertake the job. This flexibility will encourage employers to take on apprentices and will guarantee the apprentice a job at the end.
We’d also like to see levy flexibility go further, by allowing the transfer of the apprenticeship levy to the organisation that provides the apprenticeship training (typically a further education college or a private provider), so they can continue to support an apprentice when they change jobs – currently as soon as an apprentice ends their studies or changes employer, the provider can no longer support them. This initiative will also help boost apprenticeship completion rates, as apprentices are currently leaving at the point of triggering the End Point Assessment. Such a change would not cost anyone money, will allow colleges and training providers to use their unspent Levy funds, and will decrease the administration required for providers to sign up additional employers to support the final stages of an individual’s apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships can and should be a bigger part of the employment landscape. We think that increasing the flexibility of the levy will allow more employers take on more apprentices and will encourage more people to consider an apprenticeship. We’ll be advocating for these changes to the levy over the coming months.
What is the apprenticeship levy? And what are the problems with it?
The apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 to create long term sustainable funding for apprenticeships. The levy is a 0.5% tax paid by larger employers (those with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million), which is stored in a fund and must be used to pay for the cost of apprenticeship training.
The idea was that the levy would encourage businesses to offer more apprenticeships, but unfortunately, the number of people starting an apprenticeship has fallen by around 50% since the levy was introduced. It also had some unintended consequences. For example, the House of Lords’ Youth Unemployment Reportfound that some employers use the levy to reshape existing roles into apprenticeships, benefitting those who already work for their company and are usually older and more experienced.
Other criticisms are that because the levy is only paid by large companies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) don’t pay it but have to use the online system to engage with providers and pay 5% to the cost of the apprenticeship. In addition, the apprenticeship system is considered too complicated and hard to navigate for employers and education providers alike. Perhaps because of these flaws, the number of SME apprenticeships has fallen since the levy started.
She said: “We have analysed our EPA data and selected a small cohort of providers that have met these criteria with evidence of volumes of Distinctions and positive learner feedback.
“As a result of the high quality and standard of your apprenticeship provision, we would like to present you with a personalised EPA plaque.”
The majority of CCCG’s apprenticeships are available through Capital City College Training (CCCT), London’s largest apprenticeship provider, training more than fifth of all apprentices in the capital.
The Group offers apprenticeship training in sectors including accounting, business administration, construction, healthcare, hospitality and culinary arts, customer service and facilities management.
Electrical Installations apprentice David Jones, 28, from Haringey, said: “I’m a bit older than most apprentices and I’ve tried a few things in the past including bricklaying, forklift driving, sales and removals. They were enjoyable, but not to the same extent as this.
“I’ve also got two uncles who are electricians and just thought that this kind of work would suit me better. It’s not just physical but involves using your mind as well. You’re also not doing the same thing every day, and that really appealed to me. If there’s a fault, you have to find it, look at the cable routes and how it fits together, and then plan how you’re going to fix it.
“I had a really good supervisor on my first apprenticeship job who helped me with the basics by breaking things down to making it easier to understand, which gave me a good head start. I’ve enjoyed learning not just about the electrical side, but how a building goes up from start to finish.
“I did look at doing a full-time course, but it didn’t fit right and then this opportunity came up and it was good money for an apprenticeship. I think most employers, if they see you’ve done an apprenticeship, it looks better because you’ve got the experience and a qualification to go with it.”
Each year CCCT works with more than 500 organisations to train 1,500 apprentices, as well as offering free short courses and employability skills training to help get people into work.
CCCG Executive Principal Kurt Hintz said: “We are absolutely thrilled that our apprenticeship provision at CCCG has been recognised by City & Guilds, which is a credit to the excellent work of our apprenticeship teams and the fantastic achievements of our apprentices.
“I am enormously proud of our success in delivering such a high standard of apprenticeships at CCCG. I have no doubt that with such incredible commitment from our colleagues, employers and apprentices we will remain London’s number one provider for apprenticeship training.”
Apprenticeships are paid jobs that are open to all ages, which usually comprise four days with an employer and one day of study towards a recognised qualification. They enable you to earn while you learn and gain real work experience in your chosen sector with no student debt.
Find out more about CCCT apprenticeships and training courses and how to apply here.
Would you like to gain new skills and new knowledge, and get paid while you’re studying for it? An apprenticeship could be the answer. This week is the 15th annual National Apprenticeships Week, a celebration of how apprenticeships help people of all ages develop the skills and knowledge that they need for a rewarding career.
To start the week, Jackie Chapman (Managing Director of Capital City College Training) shares her thoughts on why school leavers should seriously consider an apprenticeship instead of A Levels, T Levels, BTECs or even university, and why it’s a great option for people looking to change careers too.
As National Apprenticeship Week starts, I am reminded of the confusing range of choices available to those leaving school and looking to start the next stage in their lives.
Whether you are 16 or 18 years old, you’ve just had an experience unlike any other generation, making it essential that you have the right support to make the best choices now, which will have a positive impact on your future career.
For some of you, taking A Levels or going to college, and then on to university, may be the best choice, but others would do well by going into work – and in today’s economy there are plenty of options for those who want to! Faced with staff shortages in many key industries, employers are crying out for staff and there has never been a better time to look for a job.
For once, the power is in your hands.
So why should new career starters – or older people changing careers for that matter – apply for an apprenticeship, or ask a perspective employer to put them on an apprenticeship?
Apprenticeships used to only be available in ‘hands-on’ professions like plumbing and construction, but nowadays you can be an apprentice in a much wider choice of occupations. , from accountancy and professional services, to business, HR, engineering and childcare. You can even do apprenticeships with us in the hospitality sector – as a chef for example – or in visual effects in the TV of film industry.
Apprenticeships are for everyone and every age too, not just 16 or 18 year olds. We have people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who’ve changed careers and are now doing apprenticeships in HR, Procurement, Management, Adult Care and many other jobs.
In my opinion, being an apprentice is one of the best ways to ensure that you have ongoing support in a new role, because as an apprentice:
1. You have to be given guaranteed time from work to study
2. You have to have a workplace mentor who will guide you
3. You have a coach or tutor from the training provider to support you
4. You have the chance to learn and develop your skills, with managers understanding your development needs.
Great employers recognise the important of supporting staff, so if you are considering employment – check if they offer apprenticeships!
You might be asking how an apprenticeship works and who can do one. As long as you are 16 or older and have not already completed a qualification in a similar role, you can be an apprentice. Apprentices are employed and have time away from work (usually one day per week) to study for a
qualification. To be an apprentice, you can be a new or current employee and are always paid at least the minimum apprentice wage (many employers pay their apprentices more). And, as you’re studying while you’re working, you could also receive a range of travel and council tax discounts too.
An apprenticeship could be your ticket to success. Find out more about our apprenticeships here.
Capital City College Group
211 Gray’s Inn Road