BT Scotland apprenticeship scheme makes history

BT has become the first employer in Scotland to be awarded the highest marks by HM Inspectors in a review of its modern apprenticeship scheme. The company received ‘Excellent’ gradings in all five areas assessed during the review, undertaken by HM Inspectors from Education Scotland.

Previously, the highest rating achieved in Scotland was four ‘Excellent’ grades and one ‘Very Good’.

The review covers modern apprenticeships in IT and communications offered by colleges, training providers and employers. Core areas of evaluation are rated on a six-point scale from unsatisfactory to excellent, the latter awarded for “outstanding and sector leading” results.

The assessment included in-depth interviews with senior managers, trainers and modern apprentices across the company.

BT employs more than 320 apprentices in Scotland, with 185 working in Openreach and the rest in the other lines of its business, including 44 in BT Business and Public Sector and 29 in EE.

“We’ve employed apprentices for more than 100 years and it’s the first time in our history we’ve achieved all excellent ratings for our scheme anywhere in the UK,” said BT Scotland director Brendan Dick said. “We’re honoured and thrilled by this fantastic result.

“Modern Apprentices are the lifeblood of our business and we work hard to make sure they get the best possible grounding whether they’re headed for a career in engineering, customer service, mechanics or cyber security.

“Modern apprenticeships are a great choice for individuals who want to learn as they earn, but they also bring skills into the workforce that benefit the wider Scottish economy.

“We work very closely with Skills Development Scotland on our Modern Apprenticeship programme, and we could not have done this without the fantastic support they provide.”

He added: “The review has highlighted as an area for development the need to increase our number of female Modern Apprentices. We’ll be looking at what more can be done to encourage women into careers in IT and communications, which ties in with our long-term commitment to help build a culture of tech literacy in the UK.”

The inspectors examined learning, teaching and other activities at BT and Openreach that impact on the quality of the apprentice experience. These were evaluated against three areas: ‘Outcomes and Impact’, ‘Service Delivery’ and ‘Leadership and Quality Culture’.

They found that achievement rates among BT modern apprentices were significantly higher than the ICT sector and the national average. The report highlighted the company’s collaborative approach with political and technical organisations, and the development of links with Scottish universities to deliver degree-level programmes in the near future.

The report concluded: “There is a culture of improvement within BT at all levels which supports apprentices to achieve their programmes, develop important technical and essential skills and take opportunities to develop themselves within the company.

“BT is meeting well its strategic ambitions of ensuring every apprentice receives high-quality training experiences and developing a pool of talent to meet business needs and provide future managers.”