Direct quote from the blog reading an apprenticeship was the perfect option for me, enabling me to get real-world work experience whilst being given time to learn new concepts, as well as being mentored by experienced developers.

My name is Rob. I’m a 29-year-old Mancunian and I joined the Department for Education (DfE) in January 2020 as an apprentice developer, being a recent graduate in chemical engineering who didn’t fancy living on an oil rig. The small amount of knowledge of web development that I had prior to joining the DfE was gained from the plentiful free resources that can be found on the internet. Whilst self-study is good for learning the basics, nothing beats the experience of working in a delivery team. An apprenticeship was the perfect option for me, enabling me to get real-world work experience whilst being given time to learn new concepts, as well as being mentored by experienced developers.

My apprenticeship is Level 4 Software Developer, and it will last 18 months. I will have to pass an exam as well as produce a portfolio of work. The apprenticeship is delivered as a mixture of on and off the job training, with the external training being provided through monthly 2-day workshops. In order for my skills to be assessed, I will be sitting a Microsoft programming exam, submitting a portfolio of work, undertaking a week-long assessed synoptic project, and being interviewed by an industry specialist.

My entry into the civil service went very smoothly as I settled into the office in Manchester and made friends with the 5 other apprentices in my software development cohort. I spent the first months on the job studying the programming languages used within our teams at the DfE (C#, .NET) and was closely mentored by an experienced developer. The apprenticeship workshops gave me a great foundation to build on at work and covered a range of key skills that a developer needs, such as usage of version control, continuous integration, databases, and testing. I found the transition to working from home to suit me well due to the fantastic digital community presence in place at the DfE, and have kept in constant contact with my colleagues using Teams and Slack. I have enjoyed using the "Give control" functionality in Teams to allow for remote pair programming.

I joined the apprenticeship service at the end of June and began work in the analytics team. I found myself working with technologies and concepts that I had never seen before and ended up learning a lot about databases and SQL. During my 6 weeks with the analytics team, I shadowed engineers who were working on bringing data from the apprenticeship service into a central repository. Analytics from these are used to advise the senior management team and measure the performance of the different services in the department.

After this, I joined the Find Apprenticeship Training team which is a team in the Apprenticeship Service. This team is hard at work delivering the new and updated version of Find Apprenticeship Training and uses technologies with which I am more familiar. The FAT team works in an agile way, in 2 week sprints, with a short feedback loop that I find to be very useful for learning as a new developer. There are a variety of roles within the team, with 3 developers, a tester, a UX/UI designer, a content writer, a user researcher, a delivery manager and a product owner. This has given me insight into the wide range of skills and expertise that are needed to build, maintain, and improve the services that the DfE deliver. So far, I have been assigned several tasks, which I have enjoyed completing (with plenty of help and guidance from the senior developers on the team).

GOV.UK homepage for Find apprenticeship training for your apprentice. For employers who want to take on apprentices. There are 2 steps to choosing the right apprenticeship training. 1- Choose an apprenticeship training course, choose a course at the right level and skills. 2 - Find a training provider, check the availability of training providers at the apprenticeship location. A green start now button then features underneath this text, at the bottom of the homepage.

Overall, I’ve had a great time working in the DfE so far and have thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship. I have found the apprenticeship service to be a very welcoming environment to work in and have learnt a lot. I would also definitely recommend an apprenticeship as a route to getting started with a career in software or web development.

You can look for apprenticeship vacancies on our ‘Find an apprenticeship’ website.

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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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