2020 was an unprecedented year for us all. However, the impacts on those just starting their career were significant. The job market flattened, often with apprentice and graduate jobs being the first to be cut, as companies battened down the hatches for the uncertainty ahead.
As an organisation within an industry that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, had growth opportunities in 2020, we were able to continue our investment in early and emerging talent.
Delivering in a virtual environment
There was inevitable nervousness about continuing to deliver our award-winning programmes and induction virtually, as well as up to 9 weeks of up front training for our apprentices through our providers, which would ordinarily take place in a face to face environment. The move to virtual delivery was particularly pertinent as we considered the impact on our graduates and apprentices joining an organisation virtually, at a time when they were not able to go to the office and interact with colleagues to establish relationships. Despite these obstacles, we went ahead, recognising that supporting individuals into work whilst fulfilling our clients evolving needs, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a necessity.
Ensuring our joiners had a positive experience was of paramount importance to us. We ripped up the rule book in terms of our induction, it quickly became a 2-day virtual production with a playlist to create energy throughout, engaging online interaction through quizzes, a variety of speakers, and we even transformed our usual evening activities to be virtual. We set up virtual coffee sessions and added fundamental extra steps in place to ensure that laptop delivery and set up was as smooth as possible – not an easy task.
We also worked incredibly closely with our training providers to ensure that virtual delivery, particularly for our apprentices, was still delivering the highest quality of experience and training. We were blown away by our apprentices and the level of agility demonstrated by our providers and partners.
Throughout everything we did, our key priority was the health and wellbeing of our employees. To support our community, we had increased touchpoints with new joiners and cohorts at varying stages of the programme, provided further insights to our employee assistance programme and increased the visibility of our mental health champions.
By the end of 2020, we’d hired over 160 graduates and 45 apprentices and are incredibly proud to have continued our commitment to increasing the UK early and emerging talent workforce. Needless to say, we were most proud of our new joiners. The resilience they demonstrated through joining us virtually was incredible.
Our existing apprentices were also hugely committed and the results we saw from our degree apprentices in particular were phenomenal – their ability to carry on with their programme and deliver the results they did was fantastic!
We were also delighted that some of our apprentices got the opportunity to meet the Minister for Apprenticeship and Skills, Gillian Keegan. It was brilliant for the group to virtually share their apprenticeship journey’s so far and to hear from the Minister about her own experiences of being an apprentice.
2021 and beyond
Looking forward into 2021, we could never have envisaged that we would have the biggest volume of graduates and apprentices joining us, since we began our programmes over 10 years ago. This year we will welcome over 115 apprentices to Capgemini across the United Kingdom, in addition we are launching 7 new apprenticeships, meaning that we now provide 23 programmes across a range of specialisms including Business Administration, Digital Marketing, Data and DevOps – 5 years ago we were delivering 5 programmes. The appetite across the business to invest in this community is increasing enormously and we are also diversifying the mix of our programmes adding in more Level 3 and Level 4 into our portfolio, as well as continuing our commitment to degree apprentices. We recognise that by offering programmes across all levels enables us to grow the diversity within our organisation and provide a range of opportunities.
During National Apprenticeship Week, we recognised the opportunity to inspire other organisations to think about apprenticeships. We identified that smaller employers would have questions about navigating through the apprenticeship service, and to us collaboration is key in the apprenticeship area. We arranged an employer webinar with over 50 attendees, featuring key members of our teams across programme and recruitment, as well as one of our clients who we worked with closely when they were launching their first degree apprenticeship and where we continue our collaboration throughout our joint apprenticeship experience. We shared our insights and perspectives, receiving great feedback.
We also held an event to celebrate our apprentices who graduated from their programmes in 2020 who weren’t able to join a face-to-face graduation or celebrate with their families and friends. Over 50 apprentices and their families joined us, as well as several senior leaders across Capgemini UK and representatives from the ESFA. We had video messages from those who had worked closely with the apprentices and a montage of photos and memories of the apprentices’ time on programme. Celebrating success is incredibly important to us as we recognise the significant effort it takes to complete an apprenticeship alongside a full-time job, and we want this to be highlighted.
In summary, if you are thinking about hiring an apprentice it is quite simply one of the best decisions a business can take. As an organisation that has invested in apprentices for over 10 years, we have seen the raw talent, determination, and incredible results that our apprentices have delivered. The value they bring to our organisation is significant and in hiring the highest volume of apprentices we have historically hired this year, we recognise that this is an investment worth making now and for the future, and one we plan to continue.