Friday, 12 April 2013

University of St Andrews apprentice case studies

St Andrews is Scotland's first university and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. Since it's founding in 1413 it has established itself as one of the Europe's leading centres for teaching and research.

The university maintains one of the strongest records in the UK for teaching quality and research, along with student support and satisfaction. The University of St Andrews currently employs over 2,200 staff.

Steve Watt, Chief Information Officer at University of St Andrews explains how QA Apprentices have come to be a valuable addition to their IT provision.

Adding diversity
"The university has a long history of recruiting through apprenticeship schemes, but always in traditional trades such as electricians and joiners in our Estates department.

"We looked at repeating the approach in our IT department. We wanted to add to the diversity in the team as typically out IT staff are career IT professionals with considerable experience."

Meeting new challenges
Steve describes how QA helped to ensure the university's new apprenticeship scheme was introduced into the organisation as smoothly as possible.

"QA Apprenticeships' recruitment service worked very well for us. The quality of candidates was outstanding, and a robust pre-selection process meant we had eight strong candidates which we reduced down to three new recruits. 

"We did worry before our apprenticeship began about the cultural fit of the new staff. They would be very new to the IT industry, and surrounded by a team of technical experts who might themselves have had reservations about why the organisation had moved to start an apprenticeship scheme.

"In reality the calibre and ability of our QA Apprentices has meant these concerns never materialised; they, and their team mates, have been extremely positive from the outset and have adapted to the culture and their workloads very quickly."

Establishing a training culture across an IT department
St Andrews has used it's new programme to fill a diverse range of IT roles and promote training and staff development throughout the department.

"We have three QA Apprentices working in three areas of IT provision; web development, IT service desk and IT support.

"Aside from the QA training each apprentice receives, we make sure each apprentice takes time out of their working week for onsite training and mentoring with other members of the IT team. This support to their learning is a key part of the programme, as they soon build comprehensive knowledge of their specific role.

"This structure also offers valuable development opportunities for their mentors, allowing them to broaden their skills and feel motivated."

A positive change for the business
With the university's first set of apprentices nearing the end of their training, Steve evaluates the impact their new staff have had on the business.

"As an organisation that mainly hired IT graduates in the past, we are now complete supporters of IT apprenticeships. It absolutely works and we will certainly look to repeat the initiative."

Pauline Brown, Business Relationship Manager adds:
"Our three apprentices joined in the middle of our busiest period and got stuck in from day one. Thanks to their willingness to learn and challenge themselves they were instantly a perfect fit for the team."
admin team Web Developer

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