Apprenticeships as a route to achieving Microsoft Competencies

By Ed Jones, Firebrand Training

IT apprenticeships have become a critical pathway for Microsoft Partners to recruit and upskill staff. They aren’t just for bringing in new talent, you can now sign-up your current employees to an apprenticeship and access £1000s in government funding.

If you attended the Worldwide Partner Conference last week, you’ll have noticed the apprenticeships thread weaved throughout all Microsoft UK keynote presentations. Yet, despite the growing reputation of apprenticeships, there remains a common misconception amongst employers that they are inflexible and do not align business requirements.

Today, I will dispel this myth whilst demonstrating how apprenticeships can be aligned to Microsoft competencies, allowing your business to achieve Gold Partner status. This is all thanks to the recent shift in focus to the employer needs.

Trailblazers Apprenticeships – designed by employers for employers

The introduction of government Trailblazer Apprenticeships gives you a flexible pathway to develop the critical skills your business need. These apprenticeship programmes are based on specific job roles and new government standards, designed by employers, for employers.

Trailblazer Apprenticeships attract a significantly higher level of government funding and, for the first time, include funding for vendor qualifications. This means you can now unlock funding up to £27,000 to train and certify your apprentice on core Microsoft technologies and industry established certifications.

Existing and future standards

There are two standards currently available, Software Developer and Network Engineer, which develop skills aligned to a range of mainstream job roles, which we’ll cover later. You can also expect a series of exciting and new digital apprenticeship standards in the coming months. These align to job roles including Infrastructure Technician, Cyber Intrusion Analyst and Digital Marketer.

Let’s take a closer look at the exiting standards:

Software Developer – this program will develop your apprentice’s skills to align to job roles such as Mobile App Developer, Web Developer and Games Developer. They will learn how to build, manage and deploy code in enterprise environments. During the program they will also achieve certifications including MCSA: SQL Server and MCSD: Web Applications.

Network Engineer – this program will develop your apprentice’s skills to align to job roles such as Network Technician, Desktop Support or Systems Engineer. They will learn how to design, install, maintain and support communication networks within an organisation. During the program they will also achieve certifications including the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 and MCSA: Windows 8.1.

Aligning apprenticeships to Microsoft competencies

As well as developing the skills required to do the day job, the flexibility of these programmes allow you to adapt them to map against Microsoft competencies. To demonstrate this, I will outline a Firebrand customised Network Engineer program which aligns to the Microsoft Cloud Productivity competency requirements.

This would be an enhanced Level 4 apprenticeship, which runs over two years. Accessing the full funding available, your apprentice will receive up to 38 days of Firebrand’s accelerated training.

The programme is comprised of a standard and enhanced level. The standard level consumes 23 days of training and is built from the mandatory courses. Your apprentice would train and achieve the following certifications as part of this:

  • ITIL Foundation | 2 days
  • CompTIA A+ | 4 days
  • CompTIA Network+ | 3 days
  • MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 | 9 days
    • Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
    • Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
    • Administering Windows Server 2012
    • Summative assessment | 5 days

Moving on to the enhanced level, you can then pick and choose from a series of government approved Firebrand courses. These will make up the remaining 15 days of training.

To contribute to the silver and gold cloud productivity standards the apprentice must achieve both the MCSA: Office 365 or the MCSE: Messaging. As these courses are 4 and 6 days respectively, your apprentice could go on to also complete the 3day Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions course which contributes towards the Cloud Platform competency. Meaning the enhanced level would look like this:

  • MCSA: Office 365 | 4 days
  • MCSE: Messaging | 6 days
  • Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions | 3days

With all this training, your apprentice comes away as a Microsoft Server and Cloud expert, helping you to achieve your business goals and Microsoft Gold Partner status.

So what are you waiting for? Find out more about Microsoft Apprenticeships or speak to Firebrand about accelerated IT Apprenticeships today.


Ed Jones works for Firebrand Training, a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner. He has worked in the IT training and certification industry for the past 3 years. He is a tech enthusiast with experience working with SharePoint, Windows Server and Windows desktop.

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