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Why apprenticeships are so important to Arqiva
Within the next five years, Arqiva will see large numbers of our long-serving and experienced employees – particularly in our engineering and operational teams – approaching the end of their careers.
This gives us some resource and skill challenges; on top of the well-documented skills shortage around engineering and digital.
This is why apprenticeships are so important to us. We're taking a proactive approach to ensure we have the skills and resources in place to meet the needs of the business and our customers in the future.
The benefits of Arqiva apprenticeships
Arqiva provides well-rounded foundations for young people to build a career. For most of our apprentices, these foundations are in electronics and communications engineering as most are in a broadcast technology-type environment. This year, though, we’ve extended into IT with two apprentices following the Diploma for ICT Professionals (Systems and Principles). Whatever the field or specialism, we provide the underpinning knowledge and experience that apprentices will need in their future roles.
What it means for you
All of our apprenticeships follow a nationally recognised framework or standard, and run for three years. If you’re successful, you’ll complete a formal qualification to gain the knowledge required within your role, as well as a vocational assessments. Here you can demonstrate your ability to apply knowledge in the workplace and actually do your job to the required standard.
Our apprentices are evaluated by an external assessor, who will come into the workplace and judge progression against national occupational standards. This provides us with some quality control over the standard of performance the apprentices are demonstrating, all done through a national framework.
Apprentices also do a module on Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills, known as PLTS. This helps develop the problem-solving, teamwork and interpersonal skills needed for the workplace. On top of all of this, apprentices work alongside experienced colleagues on a day-to-day basis, so they can learn practical skills on the job.
How to improve your chances
There are some minimum educational requirements for an apprenticeship with Arqiva. You’ll need GCSEs in English, maths and science, and two A-levels – preferably in either maths or a science (or IT, depending on the specialist area). These A-level subjects aren’t essential, though; we know that sometimes individuals choose different routes so we'll still look at individuals who can demonstrate the right aptitude.
It's about more than just qualifications, though. We want people to demonstrate an interest in technology and the communications sector. We want to see people who are curious and want to learn, and are able to demonstrate drive and commitment. These are the people who will drive the future of Arqiva.
How you’ll be assessed during the recruitment process
We put a lot of effort into the recruitment process. Many people who come to Arqiva for an apprenticeship are just starting their careers and are looking for their first ‘real’ job, so it's really important they get a good understanding of what we're all about.
First of all there’s an online application, including maths and verbal reasoning aptitude tests.
We then encourage applicants to visit one of our sites to actually see the environment and meet the people who will potentially be future colleagues. This is really important, particularly for our broadcast operation roles based in the regional teams; those bases are often on the top of a hillside at the bottom of a transmitter mast, so they're not necessarily typical corporate offices. We don't want you to think you're coming to an environment with 700 people and a nice comfortable office and a restaurant if that's not the case!
Next we hold assessments, beginning with an interview (carried out by an external consultancy) looking at potential rather than aptitude. We then have an event where applicants come to our office in Winchester to take part in a one day assessment, designed to showcase problem-solving skills and interaction with others.
Finally there’s a little bit on technical awareness, but it's mainly to ensure applicants have the behavioural competencies and the right attitude to fit into Arqiva.
Our current programme and success stories
Though exact figures will vary from year to year, we took on 20 apprentices in August 2015 - one of our biggest programmes yet.
Those who manage to gain an apprenticeship should be commended – they’ve been chosen out of what’s typically 400 or more applicants – it's a great achievement for the 20 or so who are selected. They'll have gone through a rigorous selection process and beat off a lot of strong competition.
In future, the number of apprenticeships could increase. Arqiva is a dynamic, changing business, so it's important that we keep up to date with skills development for the future.
Apprentices get more than just training, though, but often a secure and desirable job at the end of it. Our retention rate since 2008, when the apprenticeship programme started, is 85 per cent. These individuals are either still in programme, or have moved into full engineering and operational roles. This huge success story reinforces the opportunity and support that our apprentices receive.
Last year we were recognised externally at the Apprentice for England awards, achieving a Silver Award in recognition of our programme.
How we work with the local community
We recruit all around the country; nowhere is out-of-bounds. We also hold open days and invite local schools and colleges to come and see who we are and what we do.
On top of this, we’re a supporter of STEMNET (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). STEMNET is a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting those subjects and the opportunities that exist in jobs and careers related to those subjects.
We have our own ambassador network, so we'll have about 25 people as our signed and approved ambassadors. Some of our ambassadors went out and talked to local primary schools and teachers about the use of ICT in the workplace. We also hosted 25 children from a local school on an engineering day in our learning centre at Crawley Court.
This is why apprenticeships are so important to Arqiva. Not only does it provide us with a rich pipeline of new engineering and digital recruits, it allows us to choose some of the best in the country – at a time when skills shortages are leaving other businesses wanting.
If you think you have what it takes to be an Arqiva apprentice, or would like to find out more click here to register your interest, or alternatively, you can call our Apprentice Recruitment Hotline - 01672 861908.
Apprenticeships case study - Higher apprenticeships are providing the specialist skills Arqiva needs for the future.
John is our Learning and Development Manager. He is an official Apprentice Ambassador for the National Apprenticeship Service and chair of the Enterprise M3 regional network. He was recently awarded a Fellowship Award from Birmingham Metropolitan College for his contribution to its Foundation Degree in Electronics Communications Engineering and the apprentice programme it supports.