HMRC have selected Tech Partnership Gold accredited degree apprenticeships for pilot

The Tech Partnership team caught up with Joanne Singer, HR to find out about HMRC’s latest apprenticeship programme and why working with the Tech Partnership has been so important to them. In the following TP refers to questions from the Tech Partnership, and JS is Joanne’s response.

TP: Can you tell us about your current degree apprenticeship programme?
JS: We have taken 14 degree apprentices in the 2015/15 academic year. We have a large digital delivery centre in Newcastle, and this is where we have based our first cohort of degree apprentices. As the pilot is based in the North East, we have selected the University of Northumbria as our training provider as they are running a Tech Partnership Gold accredited programme. Our apprentices are studying towards a BSc in Digital & Technology Solutions.

We would hope to grow our degree apprenticeship programmes in the future. We are interested in setting up programmes in other sites such as Telford and Manchester. It’s important to us that we can offer development opportunities in other regions.

TP: Can you tell us about where you have gained benefit from working with the Tech Partnership?
JS: We have benefitted from working with the Tech Partnership in two main areas. One in terms of being part of the employer network and the other is having access to the Tech Partnership’s Gold accreditation framework to ensure our apprenticeship programme meets the required standards

TP: How has HMRC benefited from being a member of the Tech Partnership’s employer network?
JS: In a number of ways: We contributed early on to the specification of the degree apprenticeship, providing ideas about the sort of roles we would be looking to bring apprentices into. This involvement meant that the resulting Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship specification provides the digital skills that we need.

Also, in the run-up to September 15 when we were due to start our apprenticeship programme, we took part in many of the regular calls with the Tech Partnership employer network. We joined calls with the likes of Ford and IBM. It was very interesting to hear what they were planning to do in terms of their individual degree apprenticeship programmes. We could spark ideas off each other and share best practice. Since then it has been very valuable to find out how their programmes are going and share our experience too.

TP: Can you tell us why Gold accreditation of apprenticeship programmes is important to you?
JS: Accreditation is very important to HMRC. We would be very reluctant to introduce a degree apprenticeship programme if it was not operating within a well-defined framework, and recognised across the IT industry. Gold accreditation gives our programme that real credibility.

TP: What sorts of roles do degree apprentices currently fill in HMRC?
JS: Degree apprentices have entered our IT department in a variety of roles, working in software development, test automation, transaction monitoring and design requirements analysis. They have been placed in established teams, and learn from colleagues and team members that they work with. By the end of their 4 year apprenticeship, they will have a good overview of the variety of work we do in HMRC’s IT department.

Once they have completed their degree, we hope the apprentices will stay on and continue to work with HMRC. We would be encouraging them to progress their careers within the department and become multi-skilled IT professionals by building their experience in other areas e.g. if they have been working in software development, taking on a new role in User Research or Business Analysis will help them build a new skillset. We have a huge variety of IT and digital roles in the department, so there are great opportunities to develop an IT career in HMRC.

TP: Would you recommend a Gold accredited degree apprenticeship programme to other employers?
JS: Yes – I would absolutely recommend running one.

TP: Any other thoughts on degree apprenticeships?
JS: I don’t think that the word has got out there widely enough to young people and their parents about degree apprenticeships being a viable alternative to university. For people of any age, degree apprenticeships offer a fantastic opportunity to earn and learn. We are doing a lot of work to try and get the message out about the benefits of degree apprenticeships. In HMRC, our apprentices gain experience in working in a high profile job in the growing digital sector, whilst studying towards a full honours degree.

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