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Posted on: 04/02/2021

Ex-student Cavan Balkwill Discusses His Apprenticeship Journey

I was a pupil at Christ's College between 2010-18 and throughout my time at the College there were times when I thought I had some idea of what I wanted to do in the future as a job, but honestly,  I was very lost and couldn't work out what I wanted my career to be.

As the time approached to leave the College after my A-levels, it seemed to me that many of my friends knew exactly what they were going to do and that scared me a lot, and felt under pressure to make sure I knew what my next plan would be.   I knew I didn’t want to go to university, and definitely didn’t want to go into a full-time job – it all felt a bit overwhelming, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. 

Apprenticeships were mentioned to me, which I initially dismissed as I thought that I wasn't keen on the concept of having to work and study as well.   However, the more I found out about apprenticeships and saw just how many different types there were,  I knew it was probably the best option for me.  I was interested in ICT, taking both GCSE and A-levels, a lot of the curriculum was around data, how you protect it, how you can store and move it etc, and it was something I enjoyed.  

I was lucky enough to obtain an apprenticeship at Fujitsu, where they pay a healthy starter salary.  The best thing about it, is that essentially, the company is paying me to learn whilst they pay all my learning costs, and there are so many different opportunities.   I initially started my training over two years ago as a Higher Level Apprentice (Level 4) in Data Analytics, and I do not regret it at all.   I’ve now been promoted to a Systems Application Developer and about to start a degree level apprenticeship on the side for even more experience. 

Apprentices dedicate 20% of their working week to studying and apprenticeships linked work eg learning, watching tutorials, trying out new skills, and the remaining 80% is work based.  I worked Monday to Thursday and studied on a Friday.  As an apprentice you are not expected to know everything, and everyone is there to support your learning and to improve your skills.  There is always someone to support you and I always felt valued in the team.  There are also some additional week-long courses, and also some exams.  

Adapting to this type of learning and work was surprisingly easy, as you are given plenty of time to get your studies completed and there is no real work-related pressure.  It is a constructive environment, and everyone wants to make sure you do well and enjoy what you are doing as we are the future employees of the company.

If I could give some advice to my younger self I would say - go and find out about apprenticeships, it is another route into gaining new skills and paid employment, as well as continuing to work towards qualifications.  I can't stress how much I wish I had known more about apprenticeships earlier and spent a bit more time exploring them as a possible option.

 

Cavan Balkwill  - Data Analyst - Business Intelligence & Reporting

Fujitsu


Fujitsu are offering some free virtual sessions for students to find out more about apprenticeships for National Apprenticeship Week with the theme of #BuildTheFuture. 

The Value an Apprentice Brings

  • Taking place on Tuesday 9th from 4:00pm – 5:00pm.
  • The format will be an open panel conversation with current Fujitsu Apprentices and their Managers
  • Attendees can ask any questions regarding the Apprenticeship programme
  • This will give an insight into apprenticeships from both an Apprentice and Managers perspective
  • To register follow this link

 

1-2-1 Interview with Carla Hall

  • Taking place on Wednesday 10th from 4:00pm-5:00pm.
  • This is an excellent opportunity to listen to an interview with Carla Hall (Head of Workforce & Workspace), who started her career as an apprentice, and is now responsible for one of our biggest delivery areas, managing over 750 people.
  • To register follow this link

 

Are Apprenticeships a Viable Alternative to University? 

  • Taking place on Thursday 11th from 4:00pm-5:00pm.
  • Come and listen to an interesting discussion about why apprenticeships really are a viable alternative to university. We’ll be joined by apprentices from Fujitsu and Google who will explain their decision to take up an apprenticeship rather than going to university and what life is like for them working and studying at the same time. We’ll also be joined by our apprentice training providers and university partners (Multiverse, MMU & Winchester Uni) who offer a range of different apprenticeship levels, up to gaining a Degree.
  • To register follow this link
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