Apprentices show IT company what their future clients will look like
Apprentices keep IT support company Icelantic in touch with the tech needs of a new generation.
“Apprentices bring fresh thinking,” said Icelantic Partner Duncan Reid. “Seeing what the world looks like from their perspective is really enlightening. They represent what our clients are going to be like in five or six years.”
Icelantic, based in Edinburgh, helps SMEs in the central belt and beyond with their computer systems, has up to four apprentices at any one time.
Over 12,000 employers support Scottish Apprenticeships, which are work-based learning opportunities or jobs with industry-recognised qualifications.
Designed with employers for employers, Scottish Apprenticeships are demand-led and responsive to regional skills needs.
Icelantic started employing apprentices - mostly Modern Apprentices - 10 years ago, and has taken on around 40 over the decade including those within IT Support and Digital Sales. “We have a family feel and they are very much like the younger siblings,” said Duncan.
At the moment there are three school leavers taking Modern Apprenticeships and one Graduate Apprentice taking a cyber security degree through Napier University.
Duncan explained: “Apprentices are at the very core to how we operate.
“If we hire someone who has been in several companies, they are established in their careers, they may have their ways of doing things.
“We find the technicians and engineers we grow ourselves through apprenticeships can be more valuable longer term. They are blank sheets. We get to create the ideal employee.”
The business prides itself on learning and development, with apprentices assigned mentors and given regular training. The company has also appointed its customer service manager as an Apprentice Tzar, who manages the apprenticeship programme and acts as an advocate for the apprentices, to ensure they are represented at a senior management level.
The apprentices reward Icelantic’s investment with loyalty. Duncan said: “Our Graduate Apprentice could be highly desirable to other IT firms, but he feels very loyal to us because we’re giving him what he needs.
“He’s now a junior manager, he’s come out of shell and is forming a fantastic niche within the company.
“If we hadn’t offered him a Graduate Apprenticeship, he might have gone off and followed a different route. Now he has developed professionally, he’s great with clients, he’s great on site”.
“If you can get the right match and put the right apprentice with the right firm, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Now Icelantic’s work with the next generation of IT workers has been recognised in the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards within the SME Apprentice of the Year category sponsored by Well-Safe Solutions.
Duncan said: “It’s great to see a 21-year-old buying a new car or applying for a mortgage and know you’ve been instrumental in taking this 17-year-old and turning them into a young adult on a successful trajectory through their apprenticeship.
“I get a lot of satisfaction knowing I’ve played a part in their story.”
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The winner of the SME Apprentice Employer of the Year category sponsored by Well-Safe Solutions will be revealed during Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 4 to 8 March.