Applying for a digital and IT apprenticeship

Looking to start a career in the digital and IT sector? There's no better way to immerse yourself in the tech world than an apprenticeship, where you will get access to industry-standard tools, equipment and work on live projects on a daily basis. Take a look through our digital and IT apprenticeship application guide below, and find out the first steps of your journey into a future in the tech space.

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Typical recruitment process for a digital and IT apprenticeship

The digital and IT sector spans industries around the globe, encompassing fields such as cybersecurity, software development, and data analysis, that are critical for the day-to-day running of businesses of all sizes. If you're looking at becoming an apprentice in this sector, you'll need to know what initial steps to securing a role, starting from the application process, through to interview and assessment. To help, we have gathered insights from prominent digital and IT companies to provide an overview of the initial phases of their apprenticeship recruitment.
  1. CV, applications, and cover letters

    You will start with a standard application process, that can vary from CVs, detailed cover letters, and/or comprehensive online application forms. This stage is a crucial opportunity for you to highlight your experience with digital and IT systems in personal, professional and academic life, along with any relevant experience, certifications, or qualifications that make your profile stand out from the crowd.
  2. Interviews

    Interviews vary depending on the type of role you're going into. Sometimes these can be in-person or, especially with digital companies, you may find these are conducted through virtual platforms. Interviews serve as a dual opportunity for employers to see how you fit the person specification, and they also give you the chance to ask any questions you have for the employer too.
  3. Assessment centres and psychometrics

    It's common practice for digital and IT focussed companies to invite you to an assessment centre (usually in the form of a virtual experience) to undertake a series of practical tests designed to assess your technological aptitude, as well as your basic proficiency in key areas like numeracy and English. Occasionally, assessment centres include multiple candidates and can involve tests to guage your teamwork and leadership skills.

Dos and don'ts when applying for a digital and IT apprenticeship

  • Think outside of digital and IT. Detailing some of your hobbies and interests outside of technology can not only demonstrate different skills, it's a breath of fresh air for employers who are reading multiple applications.
  • Tailor your application to the specific field within digital and IT - a cyber security role is going to be vastly different to a developer role, after all.
  • Look at the person specification the employer has released as part of the application pack, and tailor the answers to any questions to provide examples of the skills that they are looking for.
  • Don't make the mistake of simply listing your skills. Employers seek candidates who demonstrate a clear understanding and interest in the specific role they are applying to.
  • Don't ignore the instructions given in the application process. Failing to answer a question fully or going over the word limit can give the impression of a disregard for guidelines!
  • Don't submit your CV or application without a thorough spellcheck and review for grammatical errors. Claiming to have 'strong attention to detail' and making simple mistakes can look unprofessional.

A day in the life of an IT Apprentice

A word from an existing digital and IT apprentice

Research into the apprenticeship role you're looking at for is the key to creating an effective application. Take a look at our Day in the Life of a IT Apprentice video and explore the day-to-day responsibilities of an apprentice in the digital and IT sector.

What are digital and IT apprenticeship employers looking for?

  1. Work experience

    Professional responsibility is an important consideration factor for digital and IT companies. Even if it seems irrelevant, make sure you mention everything you've done in a professional setting, whether it's communicating with customers in a call centre settting, working with digital tills in retail, or solving problems in the hospitality sector - it all counts! 
  2. Interests

    Talking about specific interests that relate to the digital and IT apprenticeship will communicate your passion for the field more effectively. for example, if you are looking at a programming apprenticeship, you might be able to lean on your interest in coding, any extra curricular activities in the space and at what level you think you're at in various types of coding language. 
  3. Extra-curricular activities

    What do you do outside of the classroom? Think about any clubs, teams or sports you may be involved in, and lean on the skills you've learned here. Whether you're part of an esports team, or your skills lie in leadership on the sports field, your employers will want to know. Remember, not all activities have to relate to digital and IT, and a unique activity might just make you stand out from the crowd.  
  4. Achievements 

    Whether inside or outside of the classroom, it's critical that you list your achievements to date, or your predicted achievements and grades for the future. Try to think of related qualifications, and make sure you list any achievements that demonstrate your other skills too, like volunteering opportunities and professional development. 
  5. Industry Insight

    Digital and IT companies value an understanding of their business, so make sure you do your research into the business as a whole, their values, and the bespoke nature of the role you're applying for.

The top five skills that digital and IT employers are looking for

We spoke to a number of digital and IT apprenticeship employers to find out exactly what skills they were looking for from their ideal candidate. Here are the top five! 
  1. Communication
  2. Organisational resilience
  3. Confidence
  4. Teamwork
  5. Problem-solving

Common interview questions to expect for a digital and IT apprenticeship?

To give you a head start on your interview, here are some of the questions that an employer might ask you during the process.
  • "Can you describe a challenging technical problem you've encountered in the past and how you went about solving it?"
  • "Could you give an example of a technology or skill you've recently learned on your own? How did you go about learning it, and how have you applied or plan to apply this new knowledge?""
  • "Can you tell us about a time when you had to work as part of a team on a technical project? How did you contribute to the team, and how did you communicate with your teammates to ensure the project's success?"
  • "How have you managed past challenges or deadlines, and what strategies do you believe will help you succeed in the dual role of working and studying as part of our team?"
  • "What motivated you to apply for an apprenticeship in digital and IT, and where do you see this apprenticeship taking your career?"

Advice from an apprentice

Georgia Shaw, Atos
Applying for apprenticeships can feel like a lot of hard work compared to your friends applying to university. They get to send off 1 personal statement via UCAS and then they're done, whereas apprenticeships require research about multiple companies, online exams, interviews, etc. Remember this: In 5 years, you would have saved money in your pension, possibly have generated the funds to move into your own property, gained valuable industry experience (and have been promoted into a more senior role), while your friends are competing for graduate schemes. There is additional work, but it's 100% worth the journey.
1-3 months
The average time the apprenticeship recruitment process takes for 50% of digital and IT employers.
The percentage of IT and digital employers that require cover letters as part of the application process.

An example of a cover letter section

I have grown up in a digital-first society. From as young as I can remember, digital and IT has played a huge role in my life, from gaming at an early age, to working on digital projects through school, and creating applications in college. My passion has evolved in emerging tech throughout my life, forever staying up-to-date with the latest digital applications, updates and products. Now I'm looking towards entering a career in the creation stage as a software programmer.

Working with XXXX as a software programming apprentice, I hope to utilise the skills I've picked up from an academic, as well as personal, life based around digital technology. I have always had a keen eye for digital innovation. For example, my work in retail has seen me master new POS systems quickly and efficiently, as well as going the extra mile to report inefficiences in the system to senior members, and help train new starters on the system too. 

Why is this a good example?
  • Digital competency: The applicant has displayed digital competency from an early age, noting that as part of a 'digital-first' generation, they have been surrounded by systems and programs for a number of years.
  • Understanding of the apprenticeship: The applicant notes the specific field of digital and IT that they are applying for. This demonstrates that the applicant is aware and has committed research time to the apprenticeship. Commenting that they want to be a part of the 'creation' stage shows that they understand the part that programming has to play in the wider sector.
  • Outside the classroom: The applicant makes multiple references to a passion for the area outside of a professional environment, noting their commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest digital application, and a gaming hobby from an early age.
  • Relevant skills: While the applicant has noted a career in retail, they have also noted a specific example of digital systems, as well as continuing to demonstrate leadership and troubleshooting qualities by going the extra mile.