Our Learner of the Month for December is James Demaine, a Junior Automation Tester at BJSS based in Leeds, who recently achieved a Distinction in his Level 3 Software Development Technician and has now progressed onto begin a Level 4 Software Tester.
James was nominated by his skills coach, Nick Lunn, who explained: “James truly deserves to be Learner of the Month as he is an outstanding apprentice.
“James is a consistent and well-mannered apprentice at BJSS in Leeds. James has shown throughout the time that I spent with him that he is a very capable software developer.
“James was a pleasure to work with, he worked tirelessly to submit work on time. His work was always submitted to a high standard and with the required evidence in place to exceed the requirements of the standards. Attending meetings/reviews with James and his manager Mike was a delight; meetings were always positive and constructive where James was constantly given excellent feedback from colleagues and peers at the company. I wish all apprentices had the same dedication as James had to his apprenticeship, he will go far within his chosen career.”
BJSS is the UK’s leading privately-owned IT and Business Consultancy. As the winner of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, they work with the world’s largest organisations, delivering the IT solutions that millions of people use every day.
James left school and decided to pursue a career in Software Development, choosing the apprenticeship route because he prefers to learn practically alongside theory based learning. He told us, “Working at BJSS has meant that I am able to gain experience in many different areas. As a Junior Automation Tester I’ve been able to get some great experience in the Software Testing field. In this role I work on developing a coded automation script, which will run through UI steps and make assertions and tests in the UI to ensure the system is running okay. The tests are then added to our build process so that whenever a Developer makes a change to a part of the system they will have to pass the tests we have built in order to merge their work into the communal development branch.”
“I decided to move in to the Testing avenue of Software Development after being given the opportunity to develop a variety of experience whilst working at BJSS. I really enjoy Automation, I love to automat things, perhaps even if they may seem pointless such as having a RaspberryPi in your home that’s automated to switch your lights on, I find it really fun to learn about the hardware side of Software Development also.
“In the future I’d like to become a Senior Automation Tester. I’d love to be able to write an Automation Framework by myself, which would enable me to work on many different projects and be able to take some more ownership over projects.
“The apprenticeship has enabled me to get hands on experience working on actual projects within a business, which has allowed me to keep up with new technologies as I’m learning about what is relevant to the career and industry that I’ve chosen, there is no risk that the textbook I’m learning from isn’t the latest edition. Having said that, I really enjoy the balance between the practical side of things and getting your head down and reading documentation. The apprenticeship has allowed me to learn the theory and apply it directly to my role.
“I started the apprenticeships with previous experience of other software languages, but the apprenticeship enabled me to learn Java. I have been programming for 5 years now, but the MTA Software Development Fundamentals module gave me a really strong introduction to programming that filled in the gaps of knowledge that had happened when I had only been working on personal projects. My trainer was really good and obviously knew his stuff! The range of stuff that I learnt was great; from databases to programming and new technologies, it was really good!
“I found the Contexts and Methodologies module more challenging, as it covers all the nuances of Software Development. However, I’ve felt really supported through the apprenticeship. I have had contact with my Skills Coach Nick most weeks, and if I’ve ever needed to ask any questions I’ve been able to give him a call or send an email.
“I would absolutely recommend the apprenticeship. If you’re a practical learner and have a good idea of what career you want, this is an excellent choice for you.”
Michael Roberts, James’ Line Manager at BJSS, was thrilled to learn that James was our Learner of the Month. He commented, “I’m so pleased for James winning this award, he is very deserving. I have noticed the training has made a difference to his performance in work, in particular he used his Microsoft Technology Associate certification as a springboard into Software Testing. It helped him gain a greater introduction to the Software Development Lifecycle and it has shown him the value of implementing industry standard working practices into his day to day work.
“We launched our Apprenticeship Programme in 2016, taking on talented people at all levels, and then expanding their skills through structured training in our internal learning and development academy.
“Through this, we’ve demonstrated that having a university degree is not necessarily a prerequisite for careers in digital technology and consultancy. And because it has been so successful, we recently pledged to double our intake of apprentices over the coming year.
“Currently we have 11 people who are completing apprenticeships at BJSS. These apprentices work across our Digital Marketing, Software Testing, Software Engineering and internal IT support functions, and some are focused on achieving their Advanced apprenticeship qualifications. Apprenticeships complement training of staff brilliantly, it puts the theory to the practical and enhances the learning experience.”
“With the digital landscape set to play an even bigger role in Britain’s economy over the next few years, technology organisations such as BJSS have a responsibility to ensure that as many young people as possible are equipped to pursue careers in our industry.
“We are an enthusiastic employer of apprentices, and our Apprenticeship Programme allows young people to experience at first hand a variety of IT roles, enabling them to become increasingly ‘hands-on’ and develop the skills they need for a rewarding career.”
We are so thrilled that James and Michael have both found the apprenticeship programme to be so fruitful, and wish James all the best for his Level 4 Software Tester apprenticeship, and future career.
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