1 October 2020

From Placement to Apprenticeship – One Path to Software Engineering

Callan GCD Photo

In a previous blog post, we welcomed Callan to our team and followed his journey as a GCD Placement Student. After a 6 month placement with us for his foundation degree at SRC, Callan is now about to get started on his BSc in Computing Systems at Ulster University. But he decided to do things a little bit differently…

Thanks to the changing landscape that Covid-19 has thrown us all into, Callan wanted to make sure he was using his time to his advantage. His first consideration was to complete  his degree on a part-time basis, whilst working part-time for GCD. However after some research and discussions with the University of Ulster, Callan came upon an alternative and much more attractive route – a Higher Level Apprenticeship. 

UU, Callan and GCD have signed a tripartite agreement and the entire fee for the course is covered by DfE. He studies on a Monday and works for us Tuesday-Friday! He will continue to be mentored in-house by Ally, our QA Lead, and GCD will keep in contact with UU to support and monitor his progress. 

It’s a win-win for everyone and means that Callan is able to get the hands on experience that will help drive his studies even further.

Why an apprenticeship?

I caught up with Callan to find out why he considered a different path into software engineering.

“I was in a position where I wanted to complete my degree because I knew if I didn’t complete it now I never would, but on the other hand, I really enjoyed my placement with GCD so I was hesitant to leave. The apprenticeship opportunity allows me to complete my degree without having to leave GCD!

What benefits does it have for you?

“The main benefit of the apprenticeship is that it puts me in the fortuitous position of being able to gain experience and industry skills while completing a degree, which is an opportunity that ‘traditional’ degree students may not get. Also I can continue to build on the professional relationships I have developed with the great team at GCD.”

What are you looking forward to the most?

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of balancing working life alongside studying – undoubtedly there will be many late nights, but it’s a challenge that I’m looking forward to, and one that will be very worthwhile at the end.”

Are you considering an apprenticeship?

From NI Direct:

If you’ve completed A Levels or equivalent, you may be interested in a Higher Level Apprenticeship, which offers the opportunity to gain quality training and a recognised higher qualification while in paid employment.

Benefits to apprentices

By taking part in a Higher Level Apprenticeship, you can gain the skills that employers need and that are relevant to the local economy, therefore improving your prospects of good earnings and sustained employment.

Other benefits include:

  • earning while you learn
  • achieving professional-level qualifications without paying higher education tuition fees
  • increased opportunities for career progression
  • a clear pathway to achieving ambitions in the workplace

Benefits to employers

Higher Level Apprenticeships allow employers to train staff to the level needed so they have strong technical and good employability skills.

An apprenticeship can:

  • fill higher level skills gap
  • attract higher calibre staff
  • increase productivity
  • develop existing staff