Work, Learn and Earn: Developing Apprenticeships

March 4, 2016 Leidos Editorial Team

Jack Spence is a software developer in Leidos Public Services team

Having completed an apprenticeship in Glasgow, Jack Spence is a software developer in Leidos Public Services team and he shares his career story so far…

On leaving secondary school I went to college to study Software Development with the intention of going to University to continue my education. After over a year at college, the weeks, although short, became daunting and repetitive. The thought of sitting through more years of this during lectures at University became frightening.

I began to search for alternative ways to either continue my education or to find a job. I had heard of my friends doing apprenticeships in joinery and mechanics so I looked into that and came across the modern apprenticeship programme which immediately attracted me with the phrase 'work, learn and earn at the same time'. It sounded like an exact fit for me, at a time when I felt I had more to learn, needed to get a job yet also needed a different way of learning. The wage that came with it was just a bonus! Admittedly I was astonished that something perfectly replicating the idea I had in my mind existed.

As an apprentice developer, my role in the first few months was to get to know the team and to practice the development skills I had learned in my previous years at school, college and at home. I did my best to learn good coding practice and to try to equate what I had learned previously to the way in things are done in the working environment. As I became more competent, I was given small change requests and worked my way up from there.

When I first started, the thing I found most difficult was having the confidence to speak with the other members of my team, not wanting to risk saying something stupid in front of my colleagues. However, I feel I have overcome this minor obstacle and now I feel my attention for detail is the next thing I have to improve upon over the coming months.

I have been working as a developer for the Scottish Government on the Accountant in Bankruptcy System for the last eight months.

The most rewarding part of being a developer is when you have been sitting in front of a problem for hour after hour and, having seemingly tried everything, you find a solution. The thrill of problem solving and the rush of the understanding that follows is what keeps me interested in development, and will do for the foreseeable future.

As technology becomes more commonplace, young people will only become better equipped to flourish in the tech industry.

The company has given me the time off work to go on courses with the training provider QA Apprenticeships. These courses have proven valuable over the course of my working time. The courses included Web Development and Databases, plus I have also been allocated time during the working day to meet with my tutor to do paper work and complete other assignments for the apprenticeship qualification. The company have given me plenty of time to ensure my apprenticeship is completed - this has been key in keeping the balance between work and the apprenticeship.

As I move into my second year of work I have been given the opportunity to move onto the level 4 apprenticeship and study Cyber Security. This is a great opportunity to diversify into another area and a subject that is becoming increasingly important as more and more businesses begin to use the cloud as a means of increasing productivity.

As technology becomes more and more commonplace in the home and at school, young people will only become better equipped to flourish in the tech industry. However there is an issue which applies to every workplace, young people have a problem with not being given enough opportunity to work as a team and not being taught how to communicate effectively. These skills are normally learned through work experience which I know that I didn't get enough of through school. These core skills are essential in every workplace not just the tech industry and it is my belief that schools should be encouraged to allow pupils time for more work experience throughout their education.

Every person is different and, as a young person, it is hard to decide what you want to do, but you should keep your options and mind open to schemes such as apprenticeships as an alternative to full time work or higher education. I would also recommend that, if you're not enjoying something do not keep doing it. Make sure whatever you're doing is benefiting you, and suits your learning style. 


The Leidos Editorial Team consists of communications and marketing employees, contributing partner organizations, and dedicated freelance designers, editors, and writers.

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