Introduce yourself

My name is Alex Walker and I'm the Business Operations Director here at Forrit.

How did you hear about the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme?Forrit Business Operation Director, Alex Walker

We heard about the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme from Edinburgh Napier University. Having already had Modern Apprentices, it seemed like a perfect way to build on this and to continue to develop our employees.

What benefits do Graduate Apprenticeships bring to your business?

There are so many benefits of a Graduate Apprenticeship scheme, developing talent is something that is really important to us, particularly long term because it helps to close that skills gap that we’re seeing in the technology space. A lot of employers will also tell you that graduates lack the technical, job-specific, practical skills, but by taking people of before university we can build these skills in alongside their degree.

Our Graduate Apprentices bring lots of new ways of thinking into our business which really helps to strengthen the service that we are delivering. We also save time and money on recruitment costs and we enjoy a very high retention rate amongst those who complete the scheme.

How do you support Graduate Apprentices in their development?

Our Graduate Apprentices work with a dedicated line manager to build and progress through a learning pathway. They also get to experience all the different parts of our business so we can really identify their strengths and preferences to help them find a role that really suits them.
Our Graduate Apprentices spend one day a week at university in first and second year and, as they progress into third and fourth, year that becomes one day a month. For us, that time that their spending away from the company is more than offset by the contribution that they make to our business.

Because of Graduate Apprenticeships, a wide variety of backgrounds and skills come into our business. We’ve also really built apprenticeships into the culture of our business, so we started our first apprenticeship scheme in 2015 which was a year after we founded the business and we have continued to take on apprentices every year since then.

How do Graduate Apprenticeships benefit employees?

One of the advantages of a Graduate Apprenticeship is that if you’re not a fan of full-time learning and being at university full-time, then you can spend the majority of your week in the office and learn alongside that. And that method suits some people very well.

Would you recommend Graduate Apprenticeships to other businesses? If so, why?

We would absolutely recommend Napier’s Graduate Apprenticeship courses to other businesses. Napier have been fantastic, they have made everything so straightforward and simple. From helping us enrol our graduates, advising us on funding, and supporting our apprentices on their learning journey.

They’ve also really helped to provide the opportunity to strengthen links between academia and industry. For example, our CEO sits on Edinburgh Napier’s graduate level apprenticeship advisory board, so that really gives us the opportunity to feedback our thought to the university. 

How do Graduate Apprenticeships set your business apart from others?

I think the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme helps to set our business apart from others because it demonstrates our commitment to learning and development and really helps us to attract and retain the best employees. It also allows us to get employees from a range of diverse backgrounds, so females are typically underrepresented in the tech space, yet we’ve managed to get a good few female Graduate Apprentices and also ex-forces personnel.

What advice would you give to other businesses considering Graduate Apprenticeships?

The advice we would give to other organisations considering adopting the Graduate Apprenticeship programme is please do realise that apprenticeships are not just a second option, they are also a first choice. And regardless of whether you’re an small or medium enterprise or a large enterprise, you are entitled to funding for these approved apprenticeship courses so I would really urge you to go and explore apprenticeship options.

What has been a highlight of the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme for Forrit?
The highlight of the Graduate Apprenticeship programme for us so far has been watching our first cohort of graduate apprentices graduate in October last year. We are so proud of them all, 90% of them managed to get first class honours. Given the success of our Graduate Apprentices so far, we are super excited to see how the next groups get on.