Lloyds Apprenticeships Firebrand

“Working together at this granular level makes Firebrand a valued Lloyds Apprenticeship partner” — Apprenticeship testimonial

Apprenticeships help businesses retain and acquire talent in an agile and flexible way, which proves incredibly valuable given rapid technological advances and the considerable UK digital skills gap.

Lloyds Banking Group have worked with Firebrand for several years to develop their Apprenticeship programmes. For National Apprenticeship Week 2024, we caught up with Senior Apprenticeship Manager, Kathryn Marshall MBE to discuss how Apprenticeships have helped their strategy and what their overall impact has been.

“At Lloyds Banking Group, we have significant growth in digital and tech; Firebrand account for a lot of Apprenticeship delivery in this sector.

“We use Apprenticeships in many different waysincluding, to a great extent, with our talent acquisition and retention strategy, to reskill our colleagues, developing talent in-house. We’ve had people from customer-facing branch roles reskill to become Software Engineers. We also use Apprenticeships to attract talent with different skill sets.

“From the beginning, Firebrand really worked to understand us as a business, which is especially important in the world of technology. Tech Subject Matter Experts from Firebrand worked with tech Subject Matter Experts at Lloyds to understand our direction of travel, our priorities, where Apprenticeships work and where they don’t, how to articulate the needs of our business, and how to evaluate Apprenticeship success.

“We’ve hosted round-table sessions with senior leaders in the tech space and Firebrand, as well as meetings on a local level with different platform leads and line managers to understand how we operate. Firebrand have been really clear with us about program deliverables at all stages. Having the SMEs understand our strategy and journey at the most granular level has really set us up to win.

“For example, during the consultation phase, we discussed some of our challenges in balancing the gender divide in the tech space. Working together, we created a successful female-only Software Engineering Bootcamp. Firebrand absolutely acknowledge where we are in terms of flexible working. They create an Apprenticeship experience to match, the delivery itself tailored to suit our business.

“We’re also constantly looking to see how we can set up our new apprentices to win. We came to Firebrand with a challenge. Our business areas want speed and competence. We’re taking people with no background whatsoever in Software Engineering or Codinghow can we help them succeed?

“Together with Firebrand, we created pre-Apprenticeship Skills Bootcamps that work as a stepping-stone. They give learners a head-start and ensure they can achieve competence fast.

“Firebrand also understand our need to continue to provide the same level of service whilst scaling up. [We've seen] a significant increase [in the number of apprentices] from last year and over the past few years. Firebrand have come on that journey with us as we seek to understand together, ‘How do we scale up without losing any element of the learner experience, the quality of support and offering?’

“We use a number of different ways to measure the success and impact of our Appsretention and completion, but also what happens next, promotion, progression, how many Level 4 progress to Level 6…We also measure engagement levels; are apprentices more engaged than non-apprentices?

“Several years ago, we had challenges in terms of programme completion and ensuring learners were on the right programmes. Discussing lessons learned from previous deliveries was very important in understanding what we need to do to adjust it.

“Together with Firebrand, we learned that coach intervention is critical, as is the relationship between coach and apprentice. The coach gets to know the apprentice, provides timely feedback, supports with projects and exams, escalates in case of any problems… Communication between Lloyds and Firebrand is critical to understanding where people need support. This includes close collaboration between the Learning Mentors on the Firebrand side and the In-Work Mentors at Lloyds.

“Throughout our work together, thought leadership has also been really important. Firebrand inputs into what we’re thinking and how we’re developing ideas. For example, we run a meeting every few months; Natalie [Wilson; Firebrand Director of Client Services] is a really active and proactive member, alongside [Firebrand COO,] Ben [Hansford]. They’re very helpful with wider industry insights, really well connected, and help us be connected too.

“For example, we're exploring standards we may want to expand, such as the Level 3 Infrastructure Technician, which we increasingly need, and finding a way to blend our Digital T-levels into Apprenticeship programmes. This happened for the first time this autumn, with recent T-Level graduates progressing into Software Engineering and Business Analysis Apprenticeships.

“It's working together at this granular level that makes Firebrand a valued Lloyds Apprenticeship partner.”

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