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IBM interview 2022: How is IBM creating a more diverse workplace through apprenticeships?

Diversity and apprenticeships are two things IBM is serious about. In this interview, they tell us how they are creating a more diverse workplace through their apprenticeship scheme - as well as everything you need to know to apply for an IBM apprenticeship.

'Find out how IBM offers a welcoming environment for apprentices of all backgrounds'

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Tell us a bit about IBM. What is it you do – and why should young people be interested?

IBM is a technology company, helping modernise the world. IBM was founded over 100 years ago, and after going through a history of hardware (e.g. making computers), IBM has moved into the world of AI and Cloud, helping industries from healthcare to sport adapt and solve new problems in these uncertain times.

IBM’s technology supports industries across the globe, allowing them to become more efficient, agile and customer centric. IBM are everywhere, you just don’t see us. We were behind the Apollo 11 Moon landing, we’re at Wimbledon and even the Grammys, all to provide a better experience for you. We one of the largest technology employers in the world. We employ 290,000+ people serving clients in 170 countries.

What is it that you can offer young people that other companies can’t?

For all our apprenticeship roles, when you join IBM, you will also be part of our entry-level organisation called Foundation. Foundation develop and manage young people and support the re-skilling of mid-career professionals who contribute to IBM's success and future leadership. They use their award-winning programmes and subject matter expertise to support our clients and the tech sector.

When you join, you are assigned your own Foundation manager alongside your task manager. Your Foundation manager will be there to support your career development and personal growth early on in your career, which is a hugely valuable resource for early talent.

People from under-represented backgrounds are often excluded from careers in tech. What are you doing to attract a diverse range of young people to IBM?

At IBM we have so many groups, campaigns and communities you can join that are centred around diversity and inclusion. 

We have Business Resource Groups which is a collection of different communities  that you can join at IBM. They are based on enhancing career development, promoting an inclusive work environment, and generating business value through internal and external activities.

IGNITE and PTech are also two of many schemes that encourage the progression of young people from other backgrounds not only to join the team, but also offer the support to develop students’ skills and set them up for a better chance when leaving school.

Some readers may be thinking that they might not fit in a big tech company. What do you do to make all your young recruits feel welcome and valued?

Diversity and inclusion is a priority at IBM. 

We value diversity – but we also know that it brings unique skills and experiences into our company as well. Because every individual has a unique set of skills and career ambitions, you can be yourself here and choose your own career adventure! 

At IBM, career changes and internal mobility are not unusual events. You don’t have to be restricted to a single career path. You are full of individuality – and so should your career journey be.

We’ve heard that you offer an apprenticeship programme. Tell us a bit more about that.

Apprenticeships at IBM are all about picking up skills for the workplace and embarking on a long and successful career. We have your professional development in mind from the day you join us as a permanent employee. Our apprenticeships range from level 3 to level 6 and each pathway gives you everything you need to start your career in the industry! 

You will get lots of exposure to set you up for a lifelong career. In addition to the day job there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in social activities and volunteering with other apprentices, students and graduates.

And what qualifications can young people gain through an IBM apprenticeship?

Degree apprenticeships allow you to work and achieve a Bachelor's honours degree at the same time. You will be doing a real role at IBM and using what you learn in the workplace as part of your degree. 

Not everyone achieves top grades. Can young people apply even if they don’t get straight A*s?

Yes of course - the entry requirements are five GCSEs grade 4-9 including maths and English language. You will also need to have completed further education (for example, A-levels, Scottish highers or a higher national diploma) or equivalent. You don’t need to be studying a technical A-level or equivalent, we accept all subject backgrounds.

What subjects should students consider studying if they want to pursue a career in tech? Are there any particular extra-curricular activities that are worth pursuing?

You don’t need to be studying a technical A-level or equivalent, we accept candidates from all subject backgrounds, whether it is tech-related or not. What we look for is the drive and passion to learn new skills and new technologies. If you love to learn, you belong at IBM.

Regarding extracurricular activities, we would strongly recommend the IBM Skills Gateway – a free online learning portal that you can access to obtain widely recognised digital certifications by completing virtual learning journeys. This is a great way to enhance your CV, so have a go! IBM Skills Build is also another great, free learning offering which not only helps with preparing you for an IBM career but a career with any employer as well. 

Applications and interviews can be scary! How do you make sure everyone gets the chance to shine at interview, whatever their background?

The application process consists of the initial application online, assessment testing, application form, an exploration centre (assessment centre) and a final interview. Head over to our website to find out more about the process.

It’s understandable to be nervous about doing something that you may have never done before, but just remember that interviews are there to get to know you and who knows you better than you do? No one is trying to catch you out, this is an opportunity for you to show us your skills and interests, whilst being able to ask any questions that you may have too.

Some of our readers will be thinking about going to university. Are there opportunities for them when they complete their degree?

Yes of course – we have plenty of graduate opportunities at IBM, we offer various consulting, technology, and design graduate roles to kick-start your career in the industry. You’ll work on real projects, with real clients, all whilst being supported to gain as much as possible from the experience. We have won targetjobs graduate employer of the year for the last five years!

What can our readers do to find out more?

Find out more about opportunities you can apply for at IBM on our website.