Ben Rubery, Apprenticeship Programmes Manager, Capgemini
In November 2012, Ben Rubery joined Capgemini and embarked on an apprenticeship delivered by QA, studying a Level 4 programme in IT, Web and Telecoms. “Looking back, I never had the intention or desire to go to university. I was very keen to start earning while still developing my skills. I had a real interest in technology and a family member suggested I considered a tech apprenticeship, which seemed perfect for me,” he explains.
Andrew Erwich, Head of Apprenticeship Solutions at QA agrees, “Apprenticeships offer a unique opportunity to develop to an industry-recognised standard alongside and as part of their role. Organisations can therefore create the in-demand skills they need both now, and for the future.”
Ben was excited to join a cohort of 60 graduates and apprentices. “The first 13 weeks was an upfront intensive period of training, during which we lived in student halls, so I had a flavour of the university experience. We were all fresh out of college and built strong friendships. Our programme covered the tech fundamentals, like programming languages and database design, and gave us the foundations we needed to start delivering to clients,” he recalls.
Ben remembers many formative experiences during his apprenticeship years, “I was a young, shy, introvert when I joined Capgemini. However, my apprenticeship gave me the opportunity to work on client site alongside experienced industry professionals and to learn from them which was invaluable to me. I’m not sure I would have had the opportunity to gain that sort of experience if I had gone to university.”
“I felt really valued, I was only 19 years old and as an apprentice was trusted to fly to the other side of the world equipped with a corporate credit card."
Just one year into his apprenticeship, Ben was asked to travel to Mumbai, India, to attend five weeks of SAP application training. He comments, “I felt really valued, I was only 19 years old and as an apprentice was trusted to fly to the other side of the world equipped with a corporate credit card. The experience definitely stretched me but the trust that was put in me really built my confidence. I was training during the week and working on some interesting projects, and at weekends I was able to explore and have fun.”
He also saw how the apprenticeship programme was changing and developing him as an individual, above and beyond the technical skills that he was learning. “The whole experience gave me the opportunity to learn ‘softer skills’, such as presenting and building relationships with people from around the world.” Andrew Erwich adds, “The nature of the apprenticeship construct is specifically designed to enable growth and enhance capabilities that will almost always translate into positive impact both for the individuals undertaking the apprenticeship as well as for the employer.”
Learning to learn
At the time, Ben did not realise how much his 18-month apprenticeship was equipping him with an array of wider skills that would prove vital in progressing his career in the future. For example, being a good ‘corporate citizen’ and developing a network of trusted contacts have both served him well in the workplace.
“I also learnt how to communicate and interact with all sorts of different people: my peers, my manager and senior leadership. In my work now, I might be talking to an apprentice one minute and the Managing Director of our UK business unit the next,” he explains.
“I’m a practical learner, so having opportunities to try new things and experiment was key for me.”
Also invaluable was the art of ’learning to learn’. “I’m a practical learner, so having opportunities to try new things and experiment was key for me,” says Ben. His QA skills coach played an important role. “My skills coach was there with me from day one to the completion of my apprenticeship as an impartial guide, mentor and sounding board. I was encouraged to have courageous conversations at an early stage and to be honest, my apprenticeship provided me with a safe environment to try new things,” he says.
Ben spent a further three years on client site within the industrial sector as an Applications Consultant specialising in SAP. Having gained this experience and equipped with more soft skills, Ben was ready to strike out in a different direction. He had discovered a passion for people development and was therefore the perfect fit for a new position as Co-ordinator on the Capgemini Graduate and Apprentice Programmes Team.
In his new role, Ben’s work initially centred around onboarding and induction processes, an interesting point for him to consider now, “I remember being in my apprenticeship induction, turning to my colleague and saying, I’d love to do that one day.” During this time, he benefitted from being able to shadow colleagues and explore the variety of work in which the team was involved. “I used this time to my advantage to demonstrate that I was the right person for the job. Seeking opportunities to observe meetings and take part in events. As I did with my apprenticeship, I was learning on the job.”
Having a technically heavy background, Ben was able to see his work through a different lens, “Part of my role was very process heavy. I asked myself ‘how I could improve things?’” he recalls.
Within a year, Ben had achieved the highest-ranking ‘Platinum Award’ within Capgemini’s internal recognition programme and was promoted to Apprenticeship Programmes Manager, aged just 22 years old. “It was quite special to be recognised,” says Ben. “I knew there was a lot of responsibility that came with the job, especially to have at my age but, having been an apprentice myself, it was my dream because I know the value and difference apprenticeships can make to individuals.”
Since embarking upon his own apprenticeship journey, Ben has never looked back. He is currently responsible for working with each of Capgemini’s individual business areas to understand the future skills that they want to develop. He also manages the relationships with a number of apprenticeship training providers, including QA, to develop, implement and run the apprenticeship offering across Capgemini.
“Apprenticeships are part of our overall talent strategy; it’s beneficial for us to develop our own talent and to grow these skills.”
“The success of our programme and what that means for our apprentices cannot be underestimated and is a huge driver for me,” says Ben. For him, a successful programme relies upon taking the time to understand the value that apprentices bring into an organisation. “Apprenticeships are part of our overall talent strategy; it’s beneficial for us to develop our own talent and to grow these skills,” he adds.
“I’m privileged to see the progression our apprentices make on a day-to-day basis. I see them at the very start of their careers during the induction period, then meet them at important milestones in between through to graduation. My job is to make sure that our apprentices have the best experience possible,” he explains.
He is reflective about his own apprenticeship journey and how it has helped him in his current role “An apprenticeship is a huge undertaking in terms of balancing work, life and study. I’ve been there and done it, so I know what it’s like. It’s difficult to juggle studies with additional reading, completing coursework etc.”
Ben believes that the QA blended learning approach helped him to strike this balance: “I had a structured plan around formalised delivery; I was learning on the job supported by an additional layer of remote-based learning.”
Opportunities for young people
“At Capgemini, we are excited to continue recruitment in the current environment and are working closely with training providers to understand their position and how we can best support young people. It’s a difficult time for them with the added complications of a global pandemic,” he adds. Andrew agrees, “Covid-19 has introduced and exacerbated many challenges to the working world however, it is encouraging to see the tenacity, resilience and desire, of organisations, training providers and apprentices to continue evolving and adapting, and ultimately, learning.”
“I’m excited about the part I can play in helping to tackle the UK’s youth unemployment agenda."
So, what qualities does a successful apprentice need? For Ben, commitment, resilience, a strong work ethic and sense of maturity are key: “Our apprentices have to grow up quickly and develop a level of maturity that is not taught, in return apprenticeships offer young people an incredible opportunity to further their learning whilst also developing their career.”
Although Ben has landed his dream job, there’s more that he wants to achieve in his role. “I’m excited about the part I can play in helping to tackle the UK’s youth unemployment agenda, particularly by focusing on entry level programmes and new apprenticeship opportunities like DevOps. In the longer term, I would love to continue to expand my career within the learning and development space.”
Capgemini is a global leader in consulting, digital transformation, technology and engineering services. The Group is at the forefront of innovation to address the entire breadth of clients’ opportunities in the evolving world of cloud, digital and platforms. Building on its strong 50-year+ heritage and deep industry-specific expertise, Capgemini enables organisations to realize their business ambitions through an array of services from strategy to operations.
With over 30 years’ experience, QA provides a comprehensive suite of both technical talent and learning services, helping individuals and companies to be winners in the digital revolution. With facilities throughout the UK, QA’s London campus is the largest professional training facility for IT and technology skills in Europe.
QA has trained in excess of 25,000 tech apprentices and 1,000 tech consultants to date – providing customers with in-demand technical talent in a number of core specialisms including Cloud, DevOps, Software Development, RPA and IT Infrastructure.