Thanks to the growing popularity of higher and degree level apprenticeships, Worcester's buoyant IT sector is providing an increasing number of local young people with the opportunity to work in an exciting, fast paced environment without the need to gain a University degree first.
Now a decade old, Worcester-based firm Airband (www.airband.co.uk) is an independent internet service provider bringing high speed broadband to homes, business and industry in rural and hard-to-reach areas.
The rapidly growing company has benefited from apprentices right from the start. It now has nine apprentices and is keen to highlight the benefits to other local employers during National Apprenticeship Week (3 – 7 February 2020).
"Having an apprentice is a wonderful opportunity to gain an extra resource and to mould them to be the perfect fit for your organisation," explains Jon Parkes, Service Manager at Airband.
Extra support is now on offer for local companies who, like Airband, employ higher and degree level apprentices.Worcester City Council runs an Employers Apprenticeship Grant scheme, which awards up to £2,000 to local companies towards the training costs incurred.
Airband successfully applied for the grant to support three higher and degree level apprentices – including Worcester Sixth Form College student Hannah Baylis.She had gained 'A' levels in History, Politics, Physics and Maths, but began to question whether a 'traditional' route to University was the right one for her.
The apprenticeship has offered Hannah the best of both worlds.She currently works as a Support Desk Technician with Airband, providing phone support to help customers configure their internet routers.
Simultaneously she studies with the Worcester based TDM Wyre Academy for 4.5 hours a week, working towards a BSc degree in Digital and Technology Solutions from the University of Wolverhampton.
Hannah's chosen route has significant economic benefits:aged 20, she already earns enough to live independently in her own flat. And when she graduates in 2022, she will have progressed her career, without incurring any student debt in the process.
"Higher and degree level apprenticeships provide a win-win for both employers and employees," explains Cllr Lucy Hodgson, Chair of Worcester City Council's Place and Economic Development Sub Committee.
"Companies get a fresh injection of talent and energy in return for a modest starting salary – and apprentices get hands-on workplace experience and the opportunity to gain further qualifications whilst earning.Frankly, it's a no-brainer.
"If you're looking to expand your business, come and talk to the City Council about the financial and practical support we can offer you."
Employers, parents and young people can find out more at www.worcsapprenticeships.org.uk or visit the Worcestershire Apprenticeships stand at the 2020 Worcestershire Skills Show, Thursday 4th March from 4pm – 7pm at Chateau Impney, Hotel and Exhibition Venue, Droitwich Spa, WR9 0BN.