From teacher to student: Primary school teacher decoding life as an apprentice

Nikita Williams resized Capgemini

Nikita Williams

A 24-year-old former teacher is urging students to consider future skills requirements before deciding on a career route.

Nikita Williams, from Caerphilly, studied education at university and was working as a teacher until she discovered her true passion lay learning, alongside her pupils, to code.

She said: “Educating young people is heavily focussed on technology and its application in the real world. Students as young as ten know how to code, and I realised I was learning from them as much as they were from me. I found that I wasn’t enjoying the job I was doing, and my students had opened my eyes to the possibility, and joy, of a career in technology.”  

Nikita decided to explore the options that would enable her to change career, and a friend directed her to a Degree Apprenticeship at global technology firm Capgemini. 

Despite finding the prospect of changing career daunting at first Nikita is now an applications consultant, completing a Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship with University of South Wales (USW). She spends her days developing and writing scripts of code for use in automated testing for a range of clients, which allows the machine testing of software and allows apps to reach the market in a much shorter time frame.

Nikita said “When I was choosing my career path during A-levels apprenticeships still had a bit of a stigma attached to them, but that absolutely isn’t the case now.

“I had a great job with a steady income when I chose to start my apprenticeship. I joined Capgemini as part of a large group of apprentices, all from different backgrounds, and we all support each other. I know a few people who chose to take the apprenticeship route from school, and as a result they all have careers they love: they were able to develop really specific skill-sets as well as get workplace experience and earn a salary. 

“When I started my apprenticeship I did wonder if I was out of my depth, but I’ve learnt so quickly. I’m applying the theory I’ve learnt in university to real situations and my confidence has increased as a result. I can’t wait to see what other skills I will develop as I progress in the programme

“I’d encourage teenagers getting their results this summer, and their parents, to explore all of the options available, rather than just doing what you think is expected. Even if you’re a bit older and worried you’ve made the wrong choice, you can change your mind like I did. The important thing to remember is there are always options.”

Ruth South, Head of Graduate and Apprenticeship Programmes at Capgemini said: “At Capgemini we recognise the unparalleled development opportunities and value of creating opportunities through apprenticeships, which also enable us to grow our technologists and leaders of the future. Capgemini has been committed to hiring apprentices for over 10 years and our business attracts a wide range of people who bring diverse perspectives, that we value thoroughly. Nikita’s experience demonstrates that choosing an apprenticeship is a great option to explore a different career route and reskill, if you are keen to do so. For those considering a career in IT, an apprenticeship is a great way to gain qualifications alongside vocational experience, whilst getting paid.”

Francis Cowe, Director of FE Partnerships and Degree Apprenticeship at USW said:

“ USW is pleased to be part of the national degree apprenticeships programme, upskilling existing employees and creating new jobs and pathways into careers in our growing technology sector in Wales. Most of us will have several jobs in a range of sectors over our life course and degree apprenticeships can play an important role in both first steps into a graduate job and or transition from one career to another. It is important that these programmes support a diverse range of learners into such jobs and we have been pleased to work with our industrial partners at USW in creating  a range of opportunities.”

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales Ken Skates said: “Nikita’s story is a perfect example of how an apprenticeship can provide vital experience of an industry while studying.

“Students leaving education this summer will be doing so amid incredibly challenging circumstances. Coronavirus has had a real impact on our economy, and individuals need to be skilled, adaptable and work-ready for what is an extremely competitive jobs market.

“Our aim is not only to return to the levels of growth we were seeing before the pandemic, but to build back better as we do so. Apprenticeships are absolutely crucial to this, and I urge students to consider all of the avenues into employment which are available to them.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Follow this link for more information about USW Degree Apprenticeships.