Tag Archives: NAW2016

Graduation and the road to Promotion – Craig Wilkinson


It’s me again! I know it’s been a while since I last posted but I thought I’d use some downtime productively and fill you in on some exciting milestones I’m currently experiencing in my time as an IBM Apprentice.

If you’re an avid and regular reader of our Blog, I’m sure you have a general gist of how the Apprentice scheme at IBM works. You join as a permanent IBM employee from day one, have two weeks of essential induction being taught how to work the IBM way safely and professionally, start in real roles, doing real work with real Clients, attend tailored IBM education courses to improve professional effectiveness, teamwork and communication, as well as learn how to handle relationships with the Client and during all this you are looked after by the Foundation team for three years.

You will also know that by the time you come to the end of the three years, the essential part of proving your education to earn the qualification, graduation and progression into the business as a regular IBMer await you.

As you may have read from my previous posts, I am now in that crucial, final stretch of the Apprenticeship and have achieved my Apprentice qualification. What has happened since then? I officially graduated!

On 14th March 2016, coinciding with the start of National Apprenticeship Week (read what IBM Apprentices did here), we celebrated the graduation of 28 Apprentices (including myself) who had worked hard over roughly two to three years and achieved their Apprentice Qualifications.

14th March 2016 Apprentice Graduation

The Graduation day was held in IBM Southbank, London, and celebrated the success of the Apprentices over the two-to-three years as well as continually blowing the trumpet for the opportunities and success for Apprentices in general.

IBM UK General Manager David Stokes was also in attendance of the event and explained his passion for Apprenticeships and the impact Apprentices have had for IBM in the UK. Along with David, we also had a talk from Foundation leader Jenny Taylor and the Apprenticeship leader Jez Brooks. Also, a special  mention to the many parents, siblings, partners and friends that came along to celebrate!

Once the Graduation day ended and all the handshakes and certificates had been given out, many Apprentices disbanded from their family and friends and joined other Apprentices in various drinking establishments to celebrate the proper way.

Once the fun of Graduation and the celebration of being Apprentice went away and the normality of work returned, what did I do? I begun working on my promotion case.

The criteria for an Apprentice to progress from Foundation into the business as a ‘normal’ IBMer is to create a promotion package in an IBM tool called Career Framework and provide the relevant evidence so, once approved, you would be proposed for the next promotion level. The promotion package pretty much sums up the work you have done as an Apprentice and allows you to progress and obtain higher levels if that is where your ambitions lie.

I recently had my promotion approved which means that any day I will receive communication that I have been promoted which is a very important milestone in anyone’s career and especially important when you’re an IBM Apprentice as it would mean that you are now being progressed into business and will be considered just like any other IBM.

I’ve been told by a few ex-Apprentices that the journey really begins once you’re promoted!

– Craig Wilkinson




What did IBM do for National Apprenticeship Week 2016? – Ben Rickett

National Apprenticeship Week ran from 14th– 18th March this year. The week is a government driven initiative by the Skills Funding Agency, designed to celebrate and promote apprenticeships and the work that apprentices do. As IBM are a large apprentice employer, it was important for us to play a big part in the week; organising a number of celebration and promotion events right across the UK from Portsmouth to Greenock. A large team pulled together to run activities and engage with school students, parents and our clients. Some activities that we ran are described below.

NAS ‘Rise to the Top’ Event – The Shard, London
NAW was kicked off with an event organised by the National Apprenticeship Service at the amazing venue of London’s The Shard.
The venue was packed out with Apprentices, Employers, Ambassadors and guest speakers including Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.
Apprentices and employers from a number of different industries across the UK were on hand to share their experiences and talk about the future of apprenticeships and find out about what other apprentices do. A number of employers also pledged to employ more apprentices throughout the year, demonstrating growth for apprenticeships!

Internet of Things Workshop – IBM Warwick
IBM Warwick was the first of our IBM location events to host a number of school and college students for an hands-on, interactive Internet of Things Workshop.
Students were given a case study and then had to develop solutions to real world problems using the Internet of Things. Key skills were taught during the day, including communication and presentation, as attendees then had the opportunity to present back to the group. Feedback from the session was excellent and it was enjoyed by all.

Interactive Open Day – IBM North Harbour
North Harbour hosted an interactive event for college students to find out more about IBM and the apprenticeship scheme. The day was split into two 3 hour sessions. In the morning they had students from South Downs College and Highbury College, then in the afternoon they had students attending from Portsmouth College and Oakland Sixth Form.
The event consisted of a presentation followed by 3 activities. The first was the Amazebots which were included to show some simple programming. Second was the survival activity which was done to demonstrate students teamwork, communication and decision making skills as they had to prioritise items and present this information back. And finally the Lego activity was used to show their written communication skills as they needed to build something and provide the other team with instructions on how to build it. They then had a Q&A sessions with IBM apprentices after these activities took place.

Open Day – IBM Hursley
A group of apprentices held an open day at Hursley during the week, for local schools and colleges students to learn more about IBM. The day was full of different speakers – including hearing from Andy Stanford-Clark, Master Inventor, about his career and all the cool things he’s created.
The team led the group of school and college students through various tours around Hursley and the students left well informed of the different routes available to them after college.
All students and teachers really enjoyed the afternoon, and praised us for holding an excellent event

Skills Day – IBM Greenock
We had 16 pupils from a number of different schools and colleges to come and enjoy an exciting skills day, where students were given a case study scenario and asked to design a website for a fictional client.
Throughout the day, guests learned about the apprenticeship scheme as an alternative to university, especially for those that prefer hands on work. Everyone had a great day, the students had fun and it was a great opportunity to spread the word about our scheme whilst teaching the students some useful skills!

Open Evening – IBM Manchester
Jen Coyle, Leanne Vickers and Sarah Horner held their open evening with the help of Early Professional Managers (EPM) Trevor Lee and Kashif Taj, Sales Manager Keith Oulton along with few interns at Jackson House this evening. They began with a presentation from Sarah and Jen about IBM and our Apprenticeship scheme day.
The highlight of the evening was the speed-networking session where the students and parents were split into groups for an informal Q&A session with different IBMers. They also held a competition for the guests best #IBMNAW16 tweet, with a prize for their favourite. The students left with an Apprenticeship application starter pack, filled with example group exercises and recruitment tips.
The feedback received from the guests praised the team for their organisation enthusiasm, with many comments about the teams “personable” and “honest” feel. Many parents commented on how informative the presentation was and some students also added they would love to work for IBM after this event!
Overall the evening was an outstanding success and the team did the North West proud

Watson Innovation Event – IBM Southbank
To bring our NAW activities to a close on Friday, we held a Watson Innovation Workshop in Southbank, inviting guests from external companies and also internal ones to take part in this fun team based activity. Apprentices descended upon the client centre from Cisco, Accenture, Capgemini and VISA, as well as attendees from our own scheme and Movement to Work placement students.
Guests learned about Watson’s real world capabilities and then had to utilise the abilities of Watson, to design a solution to a real-life problem that the individual teams had to think up. After identifying, analysing and designing a solution, the teams each had to pitch the ideas back to the rest of the room and EPMs present. Great fun was had by all and feedback from the external apprentices was fantastic.