It’s over a year now since I wrote my first guest blog on this Forum and I’m delighted to report that in that time, the IBM apprenticeship programme has gone from strength to strength, achieving unprecedented success in terms of winning external awards on both an individual and an overall programme basis. My admiration of our apprentices remains at the highest levels.
I’ve now been asked to return to write a second blog on “What is expected of IBM apprentices”. I see this as a question in two parts: what attributes do we look for in potential recruits to the programme and then, what do we expect of our apprentices once they have joined IBM.
In terms of recruitment of apprentices, we understand that many school-leavers may not have a wealth of work experience which they can list on their application form. However, we do know that there are other skills and personal characteristics which they should be able to write about and our application form is tailored to these “competencies” as we term them. These are Adaptability, Teamwork, Effective Communication, Self-motivation and drive to succeed, Initiative and creative problem solving and Client focus. Additionally, we ask applicants to tell us why they are motivated to apply for the role and give them a chance to provide us with any extra information they feel is relevant.
We don’t mind from where examples of these competencies are sourced, and in fact the greater variety of scenarios we see on an application form, the better. So, examples could be taken from part time employment, school and social activities, volunteering and charity work, Scouts and Guides, sporting achievements, Duke of Edinburgh award projects or hobbies. It’s also worthwhile remembering to write about and include inherent digital expertise. All millennials have grown up in a digital world with apps and technologies being second nature to them, so here is an opportunity to capitalise on these skills and show us exactly how valuable they can be in the workplace.
Equally important is to know about IBM and what our most recent achievements are. It’s vital to us that any potential apprentice demonstrates a passion to want to work for IBM and some knowledge of our business. There’s so much information available on line about IBM, it’s easy to pass this part of the test.
Once inside IBM, we understand that new apprentices will lack specific skills, so initially we are looking for enthusiasm and an appetite to learn. We can train apprentices in our systems, processes and knowledge specific to a role, so interest and a willingness to learn and work hard are all that is required………and that is what I see from our current apprentices on a daily basis.
I’m delighted to observe that our apprentices have demonstrated that they possess all the requisite skills and knowledge to succeed in IBM, both through their high success rate in apprenticeship qualification and also in achievement of promotions to higher professional levels in IBM. We are very proud of them.