Employer case study: Iress – Recruiting IT and cyber apprentices, even through a global pandemic
Proudly working with Iress to train apprentices
Gloucestershire College is proud to work with Iress to deliver training for their Software, IT Infrastructure and Cyber Apprentices. Many of our apprentices with Iress have gone on to achieve distinctions in their programmes and progress to more senior roles within the company.
Taking on five new apprentices in October this year, Iress has successfully onboarded new Software Development Apprentices despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic.
The team at Iress have been working remotely since the start of March, which means their new apprentices are too.
We caught up with Darcy Hibberd, People Partner for Talent Acquisition at Iress to share their experience of recruiting apprentices, how they have managed to work remotely and the positive impact apprenticeships have had on their business.
Tell us about Iress and your role
Iress is a global software house. We design a variety of IT software and solutions for companies across financial services. We were founded in Australia in 1993 as a start-up business and now work with clients across the globe. We provide software to companies ranging from independent financial advisors to global building societies, wealth managers and banking groups. Moving forward to today, we have 2,300 people globally and have teams across five different regions including the UK, South Africa, Europe, North America and APAC. Cheltenham is one of our biggest offices in the UK, employing a variety of different people in different roles, including software engineering, sales and operations.
I am a People Partner for Talent Acquisition at Iress, based in our Cheltenham office. I joined Iress just over two and a half years ago. My role as a People Partner includes looking after our UK recruitment primarily. I manage all of our vacancies across the UK, from entry to leadership level, including our apprenticeship programmes.
What impact have apprenticeships had at Iress?
We have found that apprenticeships are a really great way to help us grow our own talent. They have given us another avenue to explore to find and grow talent in the local area.
We first started our journey in apprenticeship recruitment six years ago, but since the launch of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, we have been able to drive our programme forward. We’ve hired 20 apprentices since then.
For us, apprenticeship recruitment is a really important part of our talent attraction strategy. It helps us get the exact skills, knowledge and behaviours we are looking for whilst helping us to grown our own workforce and make sure that they are just as invested in us as we are in them.
We rotate our apprentices around different teams within the business. They get the benefit of working in different areas with different people and products, and we get the benefit of their knowledge and new way of thinking and working. It’s great to have that fresh perspective and a new set of eyes on different aspects of Iress.
Of the 20 apprentices that have joined us since 2017, 17 of them are still working at Iress. Nine are still partway through their studies and those who’ve completed have moved into more senior roles within Iress.
How have you found working with Gloucestershire College as your training provider?
We first started working with Gloucestershire College last year as we were looking for a local training provider to help us with our recruitment for our Cheltenham office.
Since last year, we have recruited 12 apprentices with Gloucestershire College. 10 of these apprentices are Level 3 Software Developer Technician Apprentices and two of them work within our InfoSec team, one as a Level 3 Infrastructure Technician Apprentice and one as a Cyber Security Technologist Apprentice.
Since working with Gloucestershire College, I’ve been really impressed with the support we have received from them. They have been on hand to help with everything we’ve needed them for. I’ve worked with the Employer Training & Apprenticeships team (former Business Hub) throughout the recruitment process and they have been a great help in helping me screen all of our applicants and answer any questions.
The feedback from our managers has been really positive about the course content. Our apprentices themselves have been very complimentary about the quality of teaching and support they’ve had from the course tutors as well.
One of the positives about working with Gloucestershire College is the open communication we’ve had throughout the process. Particularly during Covid, they have talked us through all the safety measures in place at the College so our apprentices still feel comfortable going in. We have also worked with Gloucestershire College to put in place adjustments if needed for any apprentices who preferred to have learning delivered remotely this year.
Tell us about the recruitment process at Iress for taking on apprentices?
We work with Gloucestershire College's Employer Training & Apprenticeships team to get all of our vacancies advertised. We use our own career pages to advertise the roles and Gloucestershire College helps us advertise on the government website as well.
We have a broad spectrum of ages that apply for our apprenticeship programmes. There are school leavers and individuals who have had completely different careers previously, looking to reskill and make the move into technology.
The College helps us with the initial screening of the candidates who apply for the apprenticeship. They do the initial eligibility check to make sure that anyone who has applied for the role is eligible to complete the course and has the relevant qualifications. The Gloucestershire College team also run basic maths and English tests with the candidates before they send the qualified profiles to us to review.
One we receive the eligible candidates from Gloucestershire College, we review and then invite the shortlisted candidates to complete a video interview. This was done via video call this year due to Covid. The candidates are then invited to a half-day assessment centre in person where they will present on a topic related to the apprenticeship and answer competency-based questions around their experience. They will tell us why they are passionate about the subject and why they want to complete the apprenticeship course.
The level and quality of applications have been really great. This year in fact, we had over 50 eligible applicants apply for the scheme. The quality of applicants is so high that every time we have recruited, we’ve always taken on more apprentices than we originally planned to! Which is definitely a positive!
Your apprentices work remotely. How have you made this work?
We’ve had our first experience of remote apprenticeships this year. We have been working from home as a business since the beginning of March. Five apprentices joined us in October and they are completely remote.
We wanted to make working from home as seamless and comfortable for them as possible. We put together a fully remote onboarding process for them to make sure they have the best start at Iress possible. All their equipment was sent out to our apprentices before they started with us, followed up with a call from our workplace technology team to go through the setup and applications they will need to use. The inductions we would normally do face to face have been completed over Zoom.
As soon as they start with us, our apprentices are assigned a buddy who is there to support them as well as their People Leader and wider team. Apprentices have regular calls with them via Zoom each week.
We are mindful that our apprentices don’t have the opportunity to get involved in the more social side of things whilst we are working from home, so we have put together some fun Zoom sessions such as yoga, HIIT boot camp sessions, mindfulness sessions and even a comedy hour! This gives them an opportunity to get involved in the fun side of working at Iress.
Apprenticeship case study: Ben Carter, Apprentice Software Engineer at Iress
“Over the last year I have increased my front end development knowledge learning and using frameworks like Angular, React and Bootstrap. I have teamed this with learning the C# programming knowledge and Microsoft SQL Server. With these skills, I have started my journey to becoming a Full Stack Engineer. I have also improved my confidence over the last year.” - Ben Carter, Apprentice Software Engineer at Iress.
Read all about Ben’s experience as an apprentice at Iress here.
Recruit IT and Cyber apprentices with Gloucestershire College
Discover our IT and Cyber apprenticeship programmes here.
Our apprenticeship programmes have a range of start dates throughout the year so if you are looking to recruit new talent for your business or upskill current staff, get in touch with our Employer Training & Apprenticeships team today by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling: 01452 563400.
Apply to become an apprentice
If you are looking for a route into the IT or Cyber industry, an apprenticeship is a great way to train. Open to anyone aged 16+, apply for your chosen apprenticeship programme through our website and we can help you find a local employer looking to recruit new talent.