March 5-9 is National Apprenticeships Week, so this seems like a good time to provide an update on the Sheffield College’s plans for a level 4 software developer apprenticeship. I’m happy to report that plans are going extremely well.
In February, a group of local digital employers got together with the team at the College to discuss progress. The main focus of the meeting was to look at the structure of the programme, including the idea of a two week bootcamp before the course proper starts.
About the bootcamps
The main aims of the bootcamp are to make sure that everyone who is selected for the programme is starting from the same basic level of coding knowledge, to identify strengths and weaknesses and, importantly, to give employers an early opportunity to work with the candidates prior to offering them an apprenticeship position.
The College put forward an outline for the content of these two weeks, which was deliberately wide-ranging in order to generate feedback from the employers about what would be most appropriate and valuable. This tactic was very effective – there was a lot of discussion about what technologies to cover and what skills and aptitudes should be assessed.
Interestingly, the employers present were more interested in looking at how the candidates would be learning to break a problem down and work as a team on a solution than in the specific aspects of coding. There was also discussion of the importance of getting to grips with things like source control.
An apprenticeship for all
During the session, the conversation also covered the need to recognise that different types of people have the potential to do well as software developers and that the bootcamp should not be biased against those who may not be natural team workers.
The College team also covered the service that the College will provide to employers. This includes marketing the apprenticeship to attract candidates, running the bootcamp, supporting employers through the recruitment process, providing the formal training component of the apprenticeship and supporting employers throughout the apprenticeship (including dealing with all the paperwork).
Still time to get involved
The next steps are for the College to refine the bootcamp and formal training components of the programme in response to employer feedback. Steve Elliott at the College is still keen to hear from employers – you can view the relevant documents here:
And contact Steve by email with feedback and questions.
A further update meeting for employers is planned for April. Details will be publicised through Sheffield Digital but, if you would like to make sure you are kept informed, please contact me and I will add you to the list.