Find the right tech training: Apprenticeships

Lil Corris is our latest Software Engineer in Training, and as she goes on her apprenticeship journey, she will be sharing monthly updates on what it’s like to retrain for a career in development.



Embarking on a career in technology can be an exhilarating journey, but choosing the right path is critical. I’ve already spoken about beginning your journey into tech, and finding the right training option for you is a crucial step. Among the various routes available, the apprenticeship approach is one of the longer paths but offers financial security alongside a refined and structured learning experience. In this blog, I’ll take you through everything I know about getting an apprenticeship, why I believe it to be an excellent training option, and what to expect from your programme once you start learning.


The Routes In: Employer First vs. Provider First


Before delving into the why, let’s first understand the how.


Apprenticeships offer two main entry points: through an employer or via a course provider.


Employer First: Initiating the apprenticeship journey through an employer involves securing a position with a company that supports apprenticeship programs. You can also undertake an apprenticeship while staying with your current employer if they offer a retraining scheme that will allow you to upskill and take on a new role once you have completed your apprenticeship. 


Provider First: Alternatively, you can opt for a provider-first approach, connecting with an apprenticeship program before securing a position with an employer. This route is ideal for anyone not currently employed by a company that supports upskilling or reskilling through apprenticeship programmes or anyone struggling to land that first interview for an advertised apprenticeship role with a new employer.


What’s Needed: Job Interviews, Course Provider Interviews, and Academic Proof


Regardless of your entry point, certain prerequisites are essential for every apprenticeship programme.


Job Interview: An interview with a prospective employer to secure an apprenticeship position.

Course Provider Interview: An interview with the apprenticeship program provider to assess your suitability for the program.Maths & English GSCE Proof: Demonstrating proficiency in Maths and English through relevant certifications. Without proof of the hard copy, you are required to take a Functional Skills Math and English assessment to qualify, so start dusting off those certificates!


Why Choose an Apprenticeship?


Having experienced a bootcamp, I was initially drawn to the rapid pace it offered. However, I soon realised the profound advantages of an apprenticeship, which takes a more subtle and comprehensive approach to learning.


While a bootcamp provides a crash course, leaving graduates to fill in the gaps on the job, an apprenticeship equips you gradually for a lifelong career. The structured learning, ongoing support, and lower initial expectations create an ideal environment for continuous growth.


Post-bootcamp, I sought a structured learning environment that an apprenticeship offered. Classroom days in an apprenticeship are more theory-based, focusing on the “what’s” and “why’s,” leaving the “how’s” to be learned through practical application on the job.


Every six weeks, virtual classroom days cover specific modules, providing theoretical knowledge and practical exercises. Following each module, an assessment is given before returning to the workplace for on-the-job learning.


On-the-job learning 


On-the-job learning refers to any time you are ‘doing’ the work rather than being educated on it. Any task you are set, any code you complete, or any project you work on is considered ‘on-the-job’ hours. This is where you put everything you have learnt to practice. Usually, being guided and overseen by a mentor, there are opportunities to apply your knowledge with support and, more importantly, without the fear of failing. 


Off-the-job learning: A holistic approach to skill development


Dedicated time, which at Manchester Digital works out at approximately six hours per week, is set aside for “off-the-job” learning. This flexible time can include research, online courses, shadowing experiences, tutorials, or mentor-guided sessions, enriching the learning experience.


In conclusion, an apprenticeship offers a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, creating a supportive environment for individuals to thrive in the ever-evolving tech industry. Whether you enter through an employer or a provider, the structured learning approach and ongoing support make apprenticeships compelling for those seeking a solid foundation for a successful career journey.


Don’t forget to keep an eye out for my next blog as I continue to share advice about retraining as a Software Engineer and the latest updates on my apprenticeship journey.