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MICTA apprentices at PDMS help to close the digital skills gap

Insight Published on 23 April 2018

A year has passed since the successful launch of the MICTA apprenticeship scheme and PDMS is welcoming the second cohort of MICTA apprentices into our business.

We thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to our apprentices, and their managers, to find out how they are getting on and hopefully inspire other local organisations and potential apprentices to get involved!

What is the MICTA Apprenticeship?

The Manx ICT Association (MICTA) brings together the Island’s IT community by representing and supporting the industry locally, and further afield, to promote and grow ICT in the Isle of Man.

In partnership with the Department of Economic Development, the MICTA apprenticeship scheme was launched in 2016 to provide paid, industry-based learning combined with day-release training at the Island’s newly branded University College, Isle of Man (UCM).

Last year, the MICTA Apprenticeship Scheme received fantastic support from local technology companies with 17 organisations taking on an apprentice for a two-year placement.

The application process involves applying online through the platform (one of PDMS’ software solutions!) and then attending sessions focusing on employability skills, including personality tests to profile where the applicant’s strengths and interests lay.

Potential employers and apprentices then took part in “speed interviews” where the employers and the applicants had brief interviews of approximately 10 mins each. This enabled the employers to shortlist who they would like to see again for a formal interview before offering a position and, just as importantly, gave candidates the opportunity to find out more about their potential employers.

PDMS apprentices

PDMS accepted two MICTA apprentices since the programme began: Rob Blenkinsop and Thomas Clague who joined our Infrastructure and Development teams respectively.  Both of our MICTA apprentices are already making a great contribution to our business and we asked Rob and Tom for their feedback on the MICTA apprenticeship programme so far.

Over recent years, there has been a growing digital skills gap, particularly amongst the 18-25 year age bracket. As a growing software development company, we have a responsibility to address this skills gap. Our aim at PDMS is to use opportunities like the apprenticeships programme to help the next generation to learn these skills and grow and develop in a supportive workplace.

Rob Blenkinsop's apprenticeship experience

Rob has recently finished his first year of the two-year apprenticeship with PDMS, and so far it’s had a positive and lasting impact on him. Rob is an Infrastructure apprentice, working with hardware and software, learning to help support PDMS’ business and its staff.   He joined us from St Ninian’s High School where he had completed his AS levels. 

Here Rob tells us more about his apprenticeship experience so far

“Before starting at PDMS, I did not really have any expectations or a great idea of what it would be like. I knew the process would be a lot different to school, so to an extent I was a bit nervous about the transition from school life into work life.

The first few months at PDMS were really hands-on in comparison to what it was like at school. The training I received felt different to anything I’d experienced before, as it was one to one learning rather than a classroom environment. This is a good thing though, as it meant any issues or queries that I had could get resolved quickly and I was able to swiftly learn from any mistakes.

The college aspect of the course is very interesting as it has allowed me to investigate in more detail some of the things I have focused on at work. I enjoy the breakdown of the BTEC course because it allows me to concentrate on different areas in different units more easily. We cover everything in a lot of detail without it being overwhelming.

In addition to learning new IT skills, one of the key things I’ve also learnt is how to properly handle myself in a working environment as opposed to school, as well as meeting and getting to know some great new people at PDMS. My advice to anyone who is thinking about starting the scheme is, if you really feel passionate about IT and this is the area that you want to further your career in, then this option is one of the best ways to go about it! The experience you gain in a real working environment cannot be matched by any other higher education course on the Island.”

Thomas Clague's apprenticeship experience

Thomas joined our Community & Collaboration development team in September 2017. Tom gives us an insight into his first few weeks and his expectations of his software development apprenticeship with PDMS:

“My previous IT experience before joining PDMS as an apprentice software developer would have been my A levels, where I studied Computer Science, Applied IT and Engineering. Last Summer I was an intern at the IOM Post Office in the IT department as part of the Career Ready program. I also completed my year 10 work experience at European Aviation maintenance where I spent my two weeks assisting the team in disassembling and rebuilding an aircraft.

So far, I am really enjoying the MICTA Apprenticeship Scheme. It gives me the experience of working in a software development environment which is key for me to progress within this career field. For anyone who is interested in IT, I would highly recommend the scheme as you gain industry skills along with an HNC in computing.”

How our mentors have found the MICTA programme

We also caught up with Rob and Tom's mentors who described the experience they have had up until now and how having an apprentice join their team has even taught them a thing or two. 

Neal Kelly, Director of Operations, recruited Rob to the Infrastructure team and here’s what he had to say about his apprentice.

“Having offered Rob the position, he has quickly taken responsibility for a broad range of tasks and projects within the business and has become the ‘go to’ person for many first line support issues.  The work that Rob has taken on for the company has all been highly valuable and has allowed the overall team to provide an increased level of service to our customers both internal and external.  Where appropriate and convenient we are dovetailing the types of work that are undertaken within the business with the subjects that Rob is currently studying at the college”.

Tom is working with Lewis Veale, our Software Development Manager, and Lewis commented:

“I first encountered Thomas at the ICT apprenticeship “speed interview” event arranged by PDMS on behalf of MICTA. He made a great impression, in particular because of his pro-activity in applying his passion for programming to his hobby – rifle shooting. He has created a web-based match scoring system to replace the current paper-based process. Having now joined us for 4.5 days a week (with half a day at the UCM), Tom is now working on a directed training programme using online resources. He has also been involved in preparation work for a tender we submitted for a significant piece of work, and has been learning about cyber-security risks with a view to testing our systems for security vulnerabilities”.

To learn more about our apprenticeships and other career opportunities, please visit our Careers section 


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