We were featured in last month’s Design and Technology magazine, where we discussed our current opportunities, some of our apprentices and the WhiteHat vision. Written by our Head of Community and Education, Charlotte Abrahamson.

Until recently, I was working as Head of Science at an inner London school. One thing that has always shocked me is how disparate careers education and guidance is for students; some schools have dedicated careers advisers and some schools don’t. But in every school, what is clear is that all members of staff want to give their pupils information that will help them make the best decisions about their future. As teachers, you know your pupils well, and as subject specialists, you understand your industry best. Often this makes you well placed to give your students effective advice when its comes to making decisions about their future. In this article, I aim to outline some ways you can support your pupils to access apprenticeships that will accelerate the journey along their chosen career path.

A few weeks ago, I started working at WhiteHat, a startup that is creating apprenticeships for the digital age to launch the careers of a diverse group of future leaders. We help young people access great careers through apprenticeships. We work with companies ranging from Google to Net-a-Porter, SAGE to Foxtons, to find incredible, smart, ambitious non-graduate talent across digital marketing, accounting, IT and business qualifications. As a registered training provider, we also train our apprentices throughout their qualification, working with world-class content partners, including General Assembly, Mind Gym and DebateMate. We want to create future leaders and develop a post-16 education pathway that rivals the very best universities.

For any of your students who might be interested in getting into the tech sector, we offer a range of different routes they can explore. For example, Yvonne works at an online marketing firm. She is responsible for running their social media accounts, analysing the data which comes from them, and performing other admin and marketing tasks. She does all this whilst working towards a Digital Marketing Level 3 qualification. Yvonne says: ‘I love the office environment I’m in and although it’s hard work, it will be worth it in the end when I have my qualification’. Once Yvonne has finished, she hopes to remain at the company and go on to complete the Digital Marketing Level 4 qualification, aiding her ambition to move up and become a marketing manager in the next few years. It’s worth noting that, if, as an apprentice, you impress your employers enough, they will keep you on and train you to complete further qualifications. They are investing in you and, if you are good, they will want you to stay.

Another WhiteHat apprentice, Adam, is currently completing an IT Application Specialist Level 3 qualification at a PR consultancy in central London. His main responsibilities include supporting staff with their IT devices, setting up software, troubleshooting computer issues and more. He says ‘the company has made me feel so welcome. I immediately felt part of the team and I can already see how my career will develop over time. I am excited to see what will happen’.

We also have many apprentices completing Business Admin qualifications in similarly exciting tech companies. From startups to big companies, it’s a great foot in the door, and will give them work experience alongside the role-specific skills they need to be successful in their chosen career.

We also have many apprentices completing Business Admin qualifications in similarly exciting tech companies. From startups to big companies, it’s a great foot in the door, and will give them work experience alongside the role-specific skills they need to be successful in their chosen career.

WhiteHat are especially excited to be working in partnership with Google UK, helping them to recruit and prepare candidates for their next cohort of Software Engineering apprentices. The role starts in October 2018, and might be an opportunity that appeals to some of your sixth formers who are considering a career in software engineering. It’s an amazing chance for someone to launch their career at one of the world’s top companies, gain work experience and earn a higher apprenticeship at the same time!

Whichever apprenticeship qualification you choose to do, as a WhiteHat apprentice you will be enrolled onto our Future Leaders Foundation, a leadership development programme designed to complement and enhance your qualification specific learning. We want to give you the soft and hard skills that will enable you to get ahead in work and life. Your WhiteHat apprenticeship experience will be extremely personal; you will be assigned a WhiteHat coach who will visit you in your place of work and deliver training and support to you.

As mentioned, we work with some impressive companies who have high expectations of their employees. Therefore, we ask all candidates to have a minimum of 5 A*-C including Maths and English. Those sitting the new GCSEs will need to attain at least a grade 4. If students don’t have these when they apply, we suggest they spend some time learning, resit the exams and come back to us once they have obtained those grades. We encourage our candidates to have some work experience or long-term volunteering experience. It doesn’t have to be relevant to the sector you wish to enter (although that helps), but it does help you demonstrate to us and future employers that you are work ready, conscientious and committed.

For school staff who are looking to support their pupils to access tech apprenticeships, all you have to do is point them to check out https://whitehat.org.uk/apprentices and click the ‘Get Hired’ button. Your students will be prompted to fill in some information about themselves and once submitted, they’ll receive a phone call from our talent team, who will want to understand why they want to do an apprenticeship and what type of apprenticeship they are looking for. For those who are highly motivated to complete an apprenticeship, the next step is an invitation to a WhiteHat Kick Off day. So much more than regular assessment centre approach, they’ll take part in some group activities with other apprentices, spend time one-on-one with our talent team getting interview tips and guidance, and help in building their online profile. It’s at this point that the exciting WhiteHat matching process begins!

We know the apprenticeship journey is not always easy — balancing work and study at the same time is usually a new experience for many apprentices. We want to ensure that you are supported and feel valued all the way through your apprenticeship journey. We organise monthly breakfast drop in sessions and regular socials for you to share your experiences with your peers, and give you time to process this exciting time in your life. You’ll develop strong bonds with your fellow WhiteHat apprentices that will last a lifetime.

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Charlotte Abrahamson

Head of Community and Education @ WhiteHat