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Tony Norman talks all things ICT: Apprenticeships, career growth and AI

Tony Norman

We spoke with Tony Norman, ICT Tutor and Talent Coach from Digital Apprenticeships at Kaplan. He provided us with his expertise and perspectives on his role at Kaplan.

Can you tell us about your role at Kaplan?

As a tutor and Talent Coach for ICT apprentices working in various organisations, both national and international, I consider myself fortunate to be part of their journey with Kaplan.

Throughout my career, I have taught a diverse range of subjects from C7 Signalling, which was a predecessor to the IP we use today, to Networking and Business Administration. It is an honour to observe each learner’s growth, from the day they begin their apprenticeship to the completion and beyond.

Why did you choose to go into your field?

I never thought that I would end up in my current role, it almost seemed like fate. My journey began as a Technician Apprentice way back in 1981, and at that time I never would have imagined the career path that lay ahead of me. It was my Line Manager in the earlier days who recognised my potential as a coach and trainer, and since then, there has been no looking back.

Surprisingly, I used to have a deep-seated fear of public speaking and would have never agreed to present in front of an audience!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s truly one of the most rewarding parts of my job to witness the growth of learners. It’s incredible to see them start with little knowledge of their role and become valuable assets to their team by the end of the training. And the satisfaction doesn’t end there, as I like to keep in touch with my learners and it’s always tremendous to hear when they’ve been promoted. Over the years, I’ve seen some learners progress from apprentice all the way up to the top of their company.

Another highlight is witnessing those ‘light bulb’ moments when a learner has been struggling with a concept or a task and after trying different approaches and persevering, they finally grasp it. It’s an amazing experience to be a part of that moment.

It’s also a pleasure to see growth in confidence and competence as they start to fulfil their aspirations and take the next steps in their careers. I often tell them that they won’t appreciate how much they’ve learnt until they have a new starter to mentor. It’s only then that they realise how much knowledge and experience they have to share.

What should learners expect when studying their Information Communications Technician Level 3 apprenticeship at Kaplan?

As a learner, you have a fantastic opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills over a fifteen-month practical period. Throughout this period, you’ll attend five key courses that will give you the tools that you need to succeed. Once you’ve completed each course, you’ll then have the chance to apply your newfound knowledge in the workplace, all while demonstrating the key behaviours that will help you excel in your field.

Your best work will also be captured and compiled in a portfolio, which you’ll get to showcase during the three-month End Point Assessment (EPA). During this time, you have the opportunity to discuss your portfolio and complete a further project with specific criteria which will be assessed by an End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO). This is a fantastic chance to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and behaviours, and to show that you’re ready to take your career to the next level.

Subjects in the Level 3 Information Communications Technician apprenticeship include:

Networking Essentials (five days)

This module will cover the foundations of IT Networking, including the critical thinking and problem-solving skills to resolve a range of IT issues.

Cloud Services (three days)

Apprentices will gain an understanding of the foundational business and technical elements of cloud and cloud-based services. They will learn how cloud services are provided with Microsoft Azure.

Mobile and Operating Systems (five days)

Apprentices will learn how to support a diverse range of devices.

Technology and Business (three days)

This module will help apprentices to get an appreciation of how their roles as Information Communications Technician sits with the wider business. They will also get an appreciation of processes and procedures within their roles.

Scripting and Automation (three days)

This module covers the use of basic scripting to execute IT tasks. Apprentices will learn how common tasks can be automated and how automation allows control of manual, error-prone processes by running scripts.

EPA Readiness Training (two days)

The End Point Assessment readiness module provides apprentices with practical strategies and guidance on how to approach the two assessment tasks in the Information Communication Technician End Point Assessment.

Can you describe the learning environment?

As a learner in our ICT programme, you will have access to an approachable tutor who has all of the necessary resources to help you succeed in your learning journey. We provide every learner with a virtual machine that allows them to access tools and applications that are relevant to their learning. Our resources are top-notch and have been developed by industry leaders such as Cisco and Microsoft. We also create our own materials to ensure that you have everything needed to succeed.

With our programme, you won’t need to rely on the capability of your own computer to complete your work in the Live Online sessions. All you need is a browser and internet access. As a tutor, we will also be able to see what you are doing and provide support and guidance when required. If needed, we can even take control of your machine to help you troubleshoot any issues.

In addition to personalised support, you will also have the opportunity to learn from your fellow peers as you share best practices during discussion sessions. We believe in developing well-rounded individuals, which is why we also cover soft skills that will help you succeed in all aspects of your life.

And don’t worry about missing anything! Our training sessions are recorded, giving you the chance to review the content at any time. With our programme, you will have all of the tools and support you need to succeed in your ICT learning journey.

It’s great to know that everyone is supported throughout their apprenticeship. This ensures that everyone has the best possible chance to succeed and reach their full potential. It’s important to have a strong support system in place, especially during a learning period, it’s reassuring to know that this is available to everyone. This helps to create a fair and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive and grow.

What advice would you give to learners looking to go into the sector?

Apprenticeships are definitely worth considering if you want to learn and gain practical experience simultaneously. I’ve seen learners who have recently left sixth form school and achieve great success throughout their apprenticeships, as well as individuals with a degree who were seeking a career change and found their niche in IT.

With technology constantly evolving, an ICT apprenticeship can be the perfect career path for those who enjoy working with people and thrive on change.

What is an exciting industry trend or news story you’re keeping an eye on?

Artificial intelligence (AI)! It’s amazing how quickly things are changing in the world of technology. AI is one area where we’re seeing rapid advancements and innovation. It’s hard to say exactly how this will impact us all in the future, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Of course, to enable the development of AI, we need strong IT support. It’s exciting to think about all of the possibilities that AI will unlock, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Ready to progress your career?

The data and technology industry is ever-evolving. If you don’t want to fall behind these advancements, make the steps to upskill your workplace or progress your own career and browse our Data and Technology apprenticeships for further information.

Upskill with the Level 3 ICT apprenticeship.

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