Chris Jones, IT Apprentice, Customer Service Direct

Chris Jones20 year-old Chris Jones started his IT apprenticeship with Suffolk firm Customer Service Direct (CSD) in October 2009. Following a stint working part time for a local ICT firm after leaving school, he applied for a place on the IDEA Apprenticeship programme. Twelve months on, he has completed his qualification and holds the position of Junior Analyst at CSD. To cap all this, he received the “Apprentice of the Year” award from Suffolk New College where he studied.

Why Chris chose an apprenticeship

Chris hadn’t always considered apprenticeships as a way to get into an IT career, but is extremely happy with his decision to go down this route. The main attractions for Chris were:

  • hands on experience of the IT business world
  • combining work experience with gaining a qualification
  • earning while you learn
  • no student loan debt

Chris’s experience as an apprentice

One of reasons Chris found his placement so valuable was the wide range of opportunities and experience that CSD offered him. Apprentices at the company can develop skills in a variety of areas, from network operations and design and architecture, to databases, reporting and desktop support. Chris particularly enjoyed working with Virtual Environment Systems, an area in which he now hopes to develop his skills and knowledge further.

Following his own experience, Chris believes so passionately in the value of apprenticeships that he has begun promoting them to potential recruits and mentoring apprentices that join the programme. He considers this a highlight of his time as an apprentice: “One of my best moments was volunteering with the IDEA scheme during their induction events, bringing new apprentices on to the programme. I got the chance to represent the scheme, explain the benefits of this route of education over college or university, and talk about how much I enjoyed my placement.”

Benefits for the employer

Goy Roper, Head of ICT at CSD, recognises the value apprenticeship programmes deliver not only to the individual but to the business as well. “Having a team of apprentices at CSD has given us a more dynamic and flexible workforce and has improved the service we offer. The apprentices have carried out their work with drive and enthusiasm, and have been able to apply themselves to all types of work in the IT field.”

About CSD

Customer Service Direct is a joint venture partnership between Suffolk County Council, Mid Suffolk District Council and BT; the partnership provides support services such as HR, ICT, Finance and Public Access to both councils and other external customers.



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Apprentice view

After completing an IT apprenticeship at CSD, Chris Jones is thrilled with the direction in which his IT career is headed: “I would love to keep doing what I do now. I would like to mentor more students, and definitely jump a couple of pay grades, but the actual IT work I do right now is so interesting and fulfilling, I want to keep doing this until I retire.”

Employer view

Goy Roper, Head of ICT at CSD would gives his recommendation to businesses thinking of starting an apprenticeship scheme: “Go for it! The scheme provides employers with an opportunity to augment their workforce with people keen to succeed and who can bring fresh ideas and new blood into the organisation.”