HMRC launches paid digital apprenticeship with bonus of funded degree

HMRC tells Computer Weekly about its first 15 apprenticeships available under the government-led Tech Industry Gold Apprenticeship scheme

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has launched its first digital apprenticeship programme as part of the government-led Tech Industry Gold Apprenticeship scheme.

The UK’s taxation administration body is offering the four-year apprenticeships to students interested in training as software developers and studying at the same time as earning a wage.

There are 15 apprenticeships up for grabs at HMRC’s Newcastle upon Tyne-based Digital Delivery Centre, where the candidates will be paid £23,367 in addition to studying for a degree.

Partnering with Northumbria University, apprentices will study for a BSc (Hons) digital and technology solution degree, funded by HMRC. Apprentices will receive day release to lectures, a study leave allowance and access to senior leaders from the HMRC team to act as mentors.

In 2014 the government announced its support for the employer-backed Degree Apprenticeships and short courses in a bid to train UK students for a range of digital jobs.

Aiming to fill one million digital sector jobs in the next decade, digital economy minister Ed Vaizey revealed that digital sector qualifications will enable students to complete a full honours degree while in employment – with no student fees and earning a wage throughout.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Peter Schofield, director of IT development, test and operations at HMRC, said: “The Newcastle Digital Delivery Centre was set up last year. There is a scrum team and agile teams there, and the apprenticeship aims to find new talented staff. 

"HMRC has one of the largest IT estates in the UK and we have plans to further digitalise the business. Apprentices will learn how to make digital services for the public simpler, clearer and faster for them to keep up to date with their taxes and changes in circumstances.

“We are looking forward to how it goes and to finding other ways to drive the Tech Industry Gold Apprenticeship programme further,” he added.

The chosen 15 will learn how to build web and mobile products, implement application programming interfaces for internal and external use, and build automated test suites to support a continuous deployment environment.

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Candidates will also have the chance to be involved with the wider web development community to adopt good practices and share experiences.

“Apprentices will learn about things like user research and user experience roles, and how to develop things in an agile way along with tester and quality assurance roles," Schofield said.

“In the Digital Delivery Centre is the team that built the new online service for tax credits renewals and changes. It was built to change the way in which people can use the service, just like banking being available on your phone now.”

Schofield explained that HMRC is undergoing a digital transformation programme which so far as seen the creation of the Business Tax Account – making tax easier for more than 2.6 million businesses so far.

It has also launched the Personal Tax Account – which will enable 10 million individuals to access their records and take greater control of their tax affairs by April 2016, and has transformed its tax credits renewals with more than 600,000 people using the online service to date.

HMRC’s digital transformation move is part of a £200m investment to enable customers to do more for themselves online and in real time.

Schofield said the Tech Partnership programme feeds nicely into the several other apprenticeships already offered by HMRC. He mentioned there are 12 other apprenticeships throughout HMRC and a Civil Service Fast Track Scheme also based at the centre in Newcastle.

“There are also eight software and application development apprenticeships on internal schemes. The Tech Industry Gold Apprenticeship compliments what we’re already doing,” he added.

Schofield said the HMRC IT team has a high percentage of female staff, something that the firm continues to grow: “The HMRC IT team has 45% females and we strongly encourage girls to apply for this apprenticeship.

“We have a clear message of the benefits that the HMRC can offer, what we do digitally and how we can change things, so it is proving not too difficult to interest female candidates with our clear problem solving message.” 

Applications are open to all those aged 16 and over, and will close 7 August 2015.

Candidates wishing to apply should submit a copy of their achieved – or predicted – academic qualifications and CV, along with a 750-word personal statement outlining:
• What has attracted you to the role?
• Why do you want to work for HMRC?
• What are your aspirations in relation to the role and your future career?

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