The apprentice route to start in fintech

Origo apprentice Jack Scott recently became a permanent employee of the company. Rob Kingsbury talked to him about his decision to go the apprenticeship route and his experience of working at the Fintech 

Jack Scott left school knowing he didn’t want to go to university and saw the apprenticeship scheme from QA, one of several open to young people in Scotland, as a route into a career in IT.

“I had studied social subjects and computer/IT subjects at school and I thought the latter best suited an apprenticeship and it was something I was really interested in,” Jack explains. “Also, as an apprentice you study on the job and you get paid for your time.”

The interview with QA was an initial chat, a technical test, followed by a more in-depth interview. Having been accepted on to the course his CV was passed to companies with openings for apprentices. Jack was looking for an apprenticeship as an infrastructure analyst. It wasn’t a shoe-in; Origo was the fourth company who interviewed him.

Apprenticeships are primarily work based (around 80% of the working week) giving apprentices practical experience as well as completing set modules and attending workshops and courses to build knowledge that is essential in the working environment.  

Jack started his apprenticeship in November 2017. Origo had been interviewing for just one apprentice but two candidates stood out for them and they made the decision to offer both a place. 

“On my first day, if I’m honest, I was bricking it,” Jack admits. “Tyler (the other apprentice) and me were given the task of building a computer, setting it up and installing all the software it needed. I’d never done anything like it, while Tyler was so much more technical than me, he was just getting on with it. I had to say, ‘look I’m struggling here, can you help me understand what we’re doing?’ It was the start of an effective team. 

Since then setting up computers to Origo specifications has become a regular part of their role. “Recently, everyone in the company got a new PC and we were tasked with building the computers, installing the software, setting up the security and doing the handover to the user, making sure they were comfortable with the new machine and how it worked.”

Now the two of them play to their individual strengths, Jack explains.

“Tyler is technical and I’m more of a people person, so he does most of the technical build and I take responsibility for the handover.”

It’s a team approach endorsed by the company.

“Origo is a really good company to work for. They are good at getting the best from people. There’s a job to be done but they look to what you are good at and really encourage you to develop.”

The apprenticeship Jack followed is a two-year programme including modules such as health and safety, customer service and technical fault diagnosis. An assessor came into the office on a monthly basis and there were set courses in both years – a couple of two-week-long courses in year one and four courses lasting a week each in year two.   

If there is one challenge he has had in the two years, Jack says, it is having confidence in his own abilities.

“I’m quite a confident person but being given work that was new to me but I could see someone else doing, like on my first day, that was hard. But it’s about knowing you can ask questions and getting your head down and getting on with it. Then, when you can do it, you love it.”

The most enjoyable part of his experience to date, he says, has been the people side of the job.

“It’s why I like the computer deployment side of the job now because I get to talk to new people.”  

On 1 July Jack and Tyler became full-time Trainee Infrastructure Analysts with Origo. “I like the fact that we’ve gone from being apprentices to trainees. I think it’s the right title because I’m very aware that there’s a lot I still don’t know and there’s a learning process to go through.

“I’ve learned so much in the past two years. As well as doing things I’d never seen in my life before, I’ve improved my time management and I’ve become used to working in an office. I almost don’t recognise myself from where I was nearly two years ago. It’s been a fantastic experience.”

Jack says he’d recommend an apprenticeship in Fintech or technology in general.

“If you’re debating whether to go to University or getting a job, I’d recommend an apprenticeship. It’s the best of both worlds. You’ll have the study skills you’d get from University, as well as the practical skills from doing the job, and you get paid instead of building up student debt.“And there are so many apprenticeships in Scotland. It’s a really good opportunity.”