Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Apprenticeships: Get in Go Far

February 20, 2015

Most people are familiar with the term Apprentice. For some it means a trade; rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty learning how to do something that you couldn’t learn from a textbook. For others it’s the face of Lord Sugar, pointing his finger firing and hiring his next business protégé. For young people today it’s the opportunity to go into almost any industry and learn the skills and knowledge to begin a successful career.

Cisco’s foray into Apprenticeships started in 2012, as a pilot to bring in young talent to learn about Cisco and the different roles on offer, giving them the skills to plug the demand for expert network engineers. Four years, and 35 apprentices later, the programme is now a key pipeline in our ‘early in career’ talent strategy. For everyone involved in the Apprenticeship programme, it remains very closely linked to the three meanings above.

Apprentices are recruited to learn a trade. Clearly not the FY12-14stereotypical trades of Apprenticeships of the past, but our trade.

Apprentices at Cisco are exposed to more business areas than any other employee and are encouraged to learn and understand what we do and how we do it, linking up the activity as they go to build an enormous set of experiences and an even more important network of contacts. The ‘trade’ could be a number of different skills sets; technical engineering as an apprentice lab administrator, network or systems engineer following Cisco Certifications; business focussed skills in project management, business analysis, HR, stakeholder management, customer service etc. Over the course of the three years we aim to have developed an agile Cisco employee who is hungry to get stuck into the business and deliver results their respective field.

Unlike the TV show, the challenges and activities our apprentices have to prove themselves in aren’t staged environments. They’re getting stuck in with real work everyday; helping to prepare customer proof of concept set-ups, working through data to analyse and identify new business opportunities, or supporting colleagues with real life projects that have a bottom line impact. The similarity: at the end of the programme they want to be told, “You’re hired”. The fundamental point of the Apprenticeship is that they evidence their capability and competence across a suite of technical understanding and professional skills. Ultimately they need someone verify they’re the person for the job… this is where that network of contacts comes in very useful!

FY 15Our Apprentices are part of a growing number of people completing an apprenticeship, the total of which has recently tipped two million. Why? Young people have been forced to reconsider if university is the right option for them; rising tuition fees and varying graduate prospects have forced them to question if a degree certificate at the end will be worth it.

With university debt averaging at least £35,000, a figure that could take graduates well into their forties to repay, more and more school leavers are pursuing opportunities that can get them to the same career destination without having to pay for it.

We’re hiring more bright, enthusiastic and eager to learn young people this year than ever before and applications are open until 19th March. Applications are being handled by our training provider, QA Apprenticeships, with open evenings for interested candidates in early March and Assessment Centres in April.

To apply, click here.

And for more info, connect with us on facebook here and twitter here!

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