Fidelity International, the investments solutions group with more than 2 million clients across four continents, relies heavily on technology to keep their business going. Of Fidelity’s 7,500 employees worldwide, around 45% are IT and digital professionals – many of whom started their careers as apprentices and are now doing extremely well as fully fledged employees of the company.
An apprenticeship culture
‘We’ve had apprentices in our technology division for a long time,’ explains Yvette De Souza from Fidelity’s Early Careers team ‘but with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and our successful delivery in previous years, we wanted to increase those numbers in 2018.’
Apprenticeships are work-based training, meaning apprentices carry out a full-time job while learning the associated skills through formal study as well as on-the-job experience. Employers whose payroll is over £3 million pay a levy of 0.5% of their total payroll, which is ring-fenced for spending on skills development through apprenticeships.
For businesses like Fidelity, who have long understood the value of hiring and developing apprentices into loyal and highly skilled employees, the levy provides an opportunity to make apprenticeships the norm. Fidelity understands that the skills development opportunities offered by apprenticeships aren’t just about gaining a qualification, but about setting individuals on a long-term career path, allowing them to grow and develop within the business. To support this vision, they needed a digital provider whose range of training and qualifications could match a huge variety of business needs without wasting time – so who better than Firebrand?
Firebrand began delivering apprenticeships for Fidelity in October 2017, supporting five apprentices studying for network engineering, software development and digital marketing qualifications. Six months into their qualifications, all of them are confident they made a good choice.
‘This [apprenticeship] allows me to gain valuable workplace skills as well as learning on the job.’ George, who is studying for a Software Development Technician qualification, added ‘I wanted to gain qualifications whilst getting started on a career. [This] has given me a good starting point, allowing me to experience the real world and gain more and more responsibility whilst getting qualifications, and having a job means you have experience.’
Fast learning, fast results
As full-time employees, apprentices have the chance to work on business-critical projects that allow them to learn a host of skills alongside their formal studies. Fidelity’s current digital transformation activity has provided a host of opportunities for apprentices to learn and develop.
‘I was completely new to coding when I started, and my first project taught me a lot’ said George. ‘It was amazing to see the progression from when I joined to how I was after I had completed it.’
Firebrand’s exclusive accelerated learning courses are, according to Yvette and the apprentices, the best thing about their qualifications. Yvette thinks the residential setup definitely helps to limit distractions; ‘you’re getting the most from apprentices, rather than if they were in the office or still in the same city.’
Having a dedicated Firebrand Learning Mentor on hand to talk through any difficulties helps too; all our Learning Mentors have been in the business themselves and know the challenges that can arise. George confirms, ‘Whenever I have had any issues, I have been able to message my Learning Mentor’, while Christopher praised his Learning Mentor for being ‘very helpful in aiding me with the right resources.’
Getting bigger and better
Fidelity is currently planning its new digital apprentice intake, working with Firebrand’s Enrolment Team to identify the job roles they want to fill and the apprenticeship standards that fit each job’s requirements most closely.
Firebrand’s Sales and Enrolment teams have also been supporting Fidelity’s Early Careers Team at their Insight Days alongside recruitment partner Pathway CTM, providing an overview of apprenticeship programmes and how Firebrand delivers training as well as answering questions from prospective candidates.
So for people considering starting their careers in the IT/digital industry, what sets Fidelity apart from other employers?
‘We give great support’ says Yvette. ‘For a lot of our apprentices, this is their first job and they need support adjusting to the corporate environment. They’ll have assistance from their line manager, their team, a senior apprentice who acts as a ‘buddy’ to show them the ropes and from an Early Careers Project Manager.’
Fidelity’s current apprentices wouldn’t hesitate to recommend doing an apprenticeship. Christopher advocates making the most of your opportunities – ‘Come into the programme like a sponge and just soak in everything and don't be afraid to ask questions, because you're responsible for your personal development.’ And George agrees, ‘If you really feel like an apprenticeship is for you, don't hesitate to apply; it’s definitely rewarding.’