3 February 2020

Inside apprenticeships at Ciphr: ‘the opportunities are endless’

Jake Morgan and Alex Webb share their personal experiences as apprentices at Ciphr – while our director of people explains why apprentices are crucial to the company’s success

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Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir

Maryam Munir worked as a content marketing writer at Ciphr from 2019 to 2021.

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Career development Ciphr news Strategy culture and values

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Jake Morgan and Alex Webb share their personal experiences as apprentices at Ciphr – while our director of people explains why apprentices are crucial to the company’s success

“Within 10 months of joining Ciphr as a client support apprentice, I’d qualified and gained a full-time position. In less than four years, I went from being an apprentice to be a service desk team leader; if that isn’t career progress, then I don’t know what is.”

Jake Morgan, who joined Ciphr in 2017, is just one of nearly 40 apprentices that Ciphr has hired and supported in its history. As a proud member of the 5% Club, Ciphr aspires to put 5% of its workforce in ‘earn and learn’ positions, and prides itself on educating apprentices and giving them the tools they need to succeed at work.

“We invest heavily in our early careers programmes and have a fantastic track record for high levels of lateral moves and internal promotions,” says Claire Williams, Ciphr’s director of people and services. “Apprentices are at the core of these programmes and generally experience rapid career progression at their start of their Ciphr journey.”

Morgan, for example, is now studying a level-five apprenticeship, and has moved from Ciphr’s service desk to a role in its marketing team. “It’s hard to put into words how much I have learnt here,” he says. “My managers have always supported my ambitions: there have been no halts – no one telling me I couldn’t progress.”

Williams says each Ciphr apprentice’s journey is “unique” – pointing to the high proportion of apprentices who choose to enjoy a long-term career at the company. “Bringing in apprentices is a fundamental part of our succession planning strategy and enables us to train people from day one to live and breathe the Ciphr culture. The programme means we can strengthen our teams and nurture the next generation of talent at the same time.”

Technical operations apprentice Alex Webb joined Ciphr as an apprentice in December 2019 – one of the 742,400 people participating in an apprenticeship in England in 2018/19. Starting off with an admittedly “basic understanding” of coding languages, within two weeks “Ciphr had already provided enough training, support and guidance for me to be able to be trusted with a project of my own, which increased my confidence in my own ability.

“Ciphr does not throw anyone in at the deep end, either, so you can get a feel for how things work until you are able to work on your own. Support is always available if you need it,” he adds.

Considering an apprenticeship? Here’s what you need to know

The decision to opt for an apprenticeship over university is not one to be made lightly. Webb says he made the decision to become an apprentice because “it seemed to be the most logical and efficient way to progress in my career while also getting some amazing hands-on experience in the industry.” Meanwhile, Morgan says he opted for an apprenticeship so he could earn a wage, learn on the job, and gain transferable skills. All are great reasons to choose an apprenticeship programme – which must allow for 20% of your time to be spent in off-the-job training, such as with a training provider, college or university.

Morgan’s advice is to simply go for it. “The possibilities and opportunities are endless at Ciphr. Everyone is made to feel welcome and you’re never left on your own. You’ve always got an endless supply of support and for someone that is joining Ciphr I’d say take every opportunity that comes your way.”

Webb adds that the balance between apprenticeship work and company work works well. “You can usually get all of your apprenticeship and company work done during work hours so that you don’t have to use up your free time after work.

“There are also great prospects within the business for progression should that be something that you want to work towards, along with lots of opportunities for further development and growth.”

If you feel that an apprenticeship at Ciphr is right for you, Williams’ advice is to “speak to other people who have completed apprenticeships, who are in the areas of the business you are interested in, and contact the talent team at Ciphr to try and find the best course for your future aspirations.”

A brief history of UK apprenticeships

1993 – modern apprenticeships were launched. This new apprenticeship scheme counted apprentices as employees and stated they should be paid a wage

Post-2010 – higher apprenticeships, equivalent to foundation degrees or above, were introduced

2012 – new minimum standards required all apprenticeships to last at least a year, provide 30 hours’ employment a week and a minimum amount of guided learning

2017 – apprenticeship levy introduced. All UK employers in the public and private sector with a pay bill of over £3 million must contribute 0.5% of their annual pay bill to the levy