On Thursday at 4.30pm I met my year 13 BTEC ICT National students outside the mcdonalds at Liverpool Street ready to take them to http://www.justit.co.uk/ to attend a seminar on IT Apprenticeships that they offer 18 year olds as a way of getting into the industry.
Overall it was an excellent experience. The recruitment company spent time really engaging the students in understanding what it is like to work in the industry and more importantly what employers are looking for. We teach units of BTEC that involve employment in the sector but hearing it from a teacher and hearing it from a prospective employer are two very different things.
Students were asked to think about their characteristics and enthusiasm as well as their technical ability. Before students when on the trip they sat two tests, a technical test, and a customer service test. Unsurprisingly they did better on the technical test, but many of the brighter A* students did scored really badly. Sometimes I think as teachers we do all we can to help them pass and achieve, but we do not do enough to prepare them for university or employment.
Some of my pupils should attend university as they are more academic by nature, even though they have sat a vocational ICT course at sixth form. But an apprenticeship for some of them would be an excellent career route. Justit are offering an excellent scheme which will place our students with some fantastic employers, help them to become accredited and enter employment in London.
I hope to take the current year 12 students next year to see how well they do. I like the idea of sending out students that I have taught directly into the workplace, especially as I have come from a 1st/2nd and 3rd line support background, before turning to the dark side and becoming a teacher. I always try to make sure I teach the technical side of IT in a way that they will recall later if they take that career path. It also helps that they are such lovely kids, that they should be personable, polite, customer facing, happy workers!