The demand for skilled developers has surged over the last 5 years, and recruiting (and then retaining) this talent has become difficult – driven by an extremely competitive jobs market. Employers find themselves in a tough position… How do you find skilled and loyal developers in the current climate?
In response to the UK’s extremely competitive software jobs market, many employers choose to build a skilled and loyal developer in-house as opposed to finding them.
Software apprenticeships and T Levels are mutually beneficial for both employers and early talent. They allow employers to benefit from fresh software talent who are ready and eager to learn on the job and provide early talent with the opportunity to gain relevant, real-world workplace experience.
To help you make up your mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide which provides an overview, your responsibilities, and the benefits of each recruitment route.
Jill McKinney, Director of Service Delivery at Sunderland Software City and a Director at Dynamo North East, said: “In the current market, we are witnessing a shift in career preferences. Apprenticeships are a great starting point, providing a practical solution to both employers and individuals.
By offering hands-on training combined with real-world experience, apprenticeships empower individuals to acquire the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce, fostering a talent pipeline that addresses employment needs.”
Apprenticeships are a tried and tested way to bring in fresh talent. They allow learners to gain a nationally recognised qualification while working in their chosen field, and despite common misconceptions, apprenticeships are not just for 16 – 19-year-olds. Anyone over 16 years old can become an apprentice, so apprentices can come with differing levels of experience with the software sector.
Depending on the level, Software apprenticeships are typically delivered across 12 – 15 months, and require additional time (up to 5 months) at the end for assessments. They are a structured training programme, which aims to equip aspiring developers with a comprehensive understanding of the software lifecycle, practical skills and real-world experience.
There has been a rise in self-taught skills across the Software industry, and there are many free online courses and high-quality materials available. At Baltic, we advise our candidates to complete relevant online courses to ensure they start their Software apprenticeship with an initial understanding of common software components and concepts.
Level 3 Junior Software Developer Apprenticeship
When learners enrol on a Level 3 Junior Software Developer apprenticeship, they are working towards their Level 3 Software Development Technician qualification.
Junior Software Developer apprentices will quickly become familiar with the software development lifecycle and confidently design, develop, and test software components. Our programme covers planning & analysis, design, software development, and testing & deployment.
Download our Level 3 Junior Software Developer Employer Guide.Download Employer Guide
LEVEL 3 JUNIOR SOFTWARE DEVELOPER APPRENTICESHIP
This guide outlines everything you need to know about our Level 3 Junior Software Developer apprenticeship programme, including:
- Role Overview
- Training Components
- Technical Training
- Career Journey Timeline
Level 4 Software Developer Apprenticeship
Software Developer apprentices will build on their existing knowledge, and develop project management skills and development practices. Our programme covers planning & management, advanced software design, advanced programming, and advanced testing.
Download our Level 4 Software Developer Employer Guide.Download Employer Guide
LEVEL 4 SOFTWARE DEVELOPER APPRENTICESHIP
This guide outlines everything you need to know about our Level 4 Software Developer apprenticeship programme, including:
- Role Overview
- Training Components
- Technical Training
- Career Journey Timeline
What are my Responsibilities as an Employer hiring a Software Developer Apprentice?
Employers interested in hiring a new apprentice should expect to follow the same processes as hiring a new employee. Many apprenticeship training providers will support you throughout the process.
Your responsibilities as an employer hiring a Software apprentice will include:
- Job Description
- Training Plan
- Supporting Resources
- Performance Reviews
- Feedback & Evaluation Reviews
- Long-term Support
…and most importantly, creating a Positive & Supportive Environment for your apprentice to learn, grow, and develop. Mentorship is a key feature of apprenticeships – when you hire a Software apprentice, they should be supported by experienced developers who can guide them throughout the programme, ensuring they experience a smooth transition into the workforce.
As an employer, you are also responsible for making sure your apprentice works with experienced staff, learns job-specific skills, and gets an appropriate amount of time off to complete their apprenticeship work.
What are the Benefits of Software Apprenticeships for Employers?
Software apprenticeships offer a range of benefits for employers looking to add new talent to their software teams. Experienced developers come with high salary expectations, with the average UK salary for a Software Developer sitting at £43K. Apprenticeships offer a more cost-effective solution to recruitment – our internal data shows that between 01/23 – 12/23, on average our Software vacancies were advertised at £16K. This means hiring an apprentice instead of a developer drastically decreases recruitment costs by 91%
The software industry suffers from notoriously low staff retention rates, and roughly 20% of developers are considering leaving their current roles. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to futureproof your Software team and improve your employee retention, as apprentices recognise the time you have invested in them, so they tend to stick around for a while!
With Government schemes, Apprenticeship Levy contributions, and other incentives in place, up to 100% of your new Software apprentice’s training is funded, and thanks to the blend of workplace training, specialised sessions with coaches, and additional learning resources, apprentices develop crucial industry skills quickly. At Baltic, we hold Monthly Masterclasses and offer a carefully curated Skills Expansion Pack to support our Software apprenticeships. Both schemes allow you to tailor our programmes to suit your specific business needs, ensuring that your apprentice will gain the skills important to your business.
Investing in a software apprentice is not just an immediate gain, it’s a strategic business move to free up senior developers’ time for larger projects, promote a culture of continuous professional development, and create a future leader within your business.
Software T Levels
T Levels (Technical Levels) are a new vocational education, the scheme offers a two-year programme for 16 – 19-year-olds. T Levels blend classroom learning and industry placements, and students gain hands-on experience through extended work placements.
The new educational scheme is a great alternative option for young people who do not want to enter full-time work or complete A Levels. The government’s Minister for Skills, Further and Higher Education, Robert Halfon, said: “T Levels are designed to propel students into work, an apprenticeship or further study by providing a unique blend of study and workplace experience.”
T Level in Digital Production, Design, and Development (Software)
When learners enrol on a Software Development T Level, they are working towards their T Level in Digital Production, Design, and Development. This course is made up of 80% classroom learning, and 20% industry placement – with the average placement lasting 45 days.
T Level in Digital Production, Design, and Development teaches the core knowledge and skills needed to enter a range of digital occupations. This T Level provides a well-rounded understanding of digital technologies, digital environments, and testing software, hardware and data.
In addition to the core content, students are given the option to specialise in additional areas of digital production, design, and development – allowing them to progress into roles such as a Web Developer, Software Developer, or Computer Games Developer.
What are my Responsibilities as an Employer hosting a Digital Production, Design, and Development T Level placement?
Employers interested in hosting T Level industry placements can expect to complete planning and paperwork, while providers will pick out the student, arrange meetings, and support with relevant paperwork.
You will be asked to assist with the placement structure, by sharing your industry expertise and knowledge, to ensure you and the student get the most out of the placement. You will fill out an Industry Placement Objectives Template to outline the main objectives and key activities the student will undertake during their time at your business.
You will have to appoint an appropriate line manager for the student, as well as identify additional team members who will provide additional support. The line manager and all support staff should have relevant technical skills and experience, and experience of training others. The line manager will hold regular meetings, provide feedback, provide day-to-day supervision, and attend formal review meetings.
Before the placement, the student will gain a range of technical knowledge and skills in the classroom and will undergo additional work-preparation training to ensure they come prepared for the workplace. For many students, this placement will be their first workplace experience – so you should be considerate and promote a positive work ethic.
What are the Benefits of Software T Levels for Employers?
Offering a placement for a student working towards their T Level in Digital Production, Design, and Development offers many benefits for employers. While this route will not directly fix any long-term skill gaps or recruitment issues, this scheme allows you to nurture local young talent and build the skills the industry needs most.
Due to the nature of the new Government educational scheme, which requires the student to work with a mentor and designated supporting staff, T Levels allow your existing team to develop their mentoring and management skills.
Offering a placement is a short-term commitment with a lasting impact on the student, your local community, and the wider software industry. Not only does providing a T Level placement support corporate social responsibility, and create positive relationships with the local community and educational institutions, they support the wider industry and fix UK wide skill gaps.
Which Recruitment Route is Best for Your Business?
Ultimately, whether you want to hire a Software apprentice or support early software talent through their T Level is up to you and you should do what feels right for your business.
Hiring a Software apprentice offers a long-term solution to your recruitment issues – with most apprentices making an impact from day one. Government schemes and Apprenticeship Levy contributions ensure that up to 100% of the training costs are covered, meaning apprentices are extremely cost-effective. This strategic investment not only frees up senior developers for larger projects but also promotes CPD and helps mould the future leader of your organisation.
Offering a placement for a student completing their T Level in Software is a short-term solution to your recruitment issues. Your student will come in and support developers with basic tasks while learning on the job, and while this should not be seen as an immediate solution for long-term skill gaps, the educational scheme allows you to nurture local young talent, support your community, and fix industry skill gaps.
If neither of these routes feel right for you but you’re still looking to recruit and grow as a business, you can utilise employment networks which bring together employers, educational providers, and people looking for tech and digital roles.
If you are based in the North East, and looking to upscale your business, Tech Talent Engine can help promote your brand, reach new talent, and gain insights into the North East’s fast-moving tech sector. From interviewing techniques to internal upskilling and training, Tech Talent Engine can help you improve retention numbers and reach high-quality candidates.
If you’re interested in hiring a Software apprentice, get in touch with our friendly team.