Let's talk apprenticeships

Sam has just completed his Network Engineering apprenticeship programme with Tekgem and we caught up with him to find out more about the success in his apprenticeship and progress in Tekgem.


IT apprentices on the fast-track to success

As part of our celebrations for National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we’ve been looking to understand more about what inspired the apprentices we train to take on an apprenticeship and why specifically in technology.

We caught up with stellar learner Sam Longstaff who has recently just successfully completed his Level 4 Network Engineer apprenticeship programme and achieved a Distinction.

Sam initially followed the traditional career route from school to sixth form college achieving A levels in IT, Maths and Geology. Growing up surrounded by technology Sam said “I was always tinkering with tech from a relatively early age; building my own systems, taking games consoles apart and fixing system issues for family members and neighbors that had any issue. I was fascinated about how different technologies worked.”

Sam won a scholarship to Teesside University to study computer programming, but on a night out with his mate Liam he shared with him that he was losing his passion for the subject. The content and teaching approach were too theoretical on his university course and difficult to relate to real work-based activities.

Having grown up with Liam, Sam was inspired by how much he was enjoying and excelling in his IT apprenticeship at local company Tekgem, based in Stockton. The combination of online tutoring and on the job real time training that Liam’s programme provided really appealed to Sam. So when Liam mentioned his boss was looking for another IT apprentice he jumped at the opportunity. Sam met with Tekgem the next day and the job was his!

Teesside -based Tekgem are a great example of a savvy employer who is running a successful Early Careers Training Programmes with Intequal. Apprentices follow each other up through the ranks, quickly and effectively learning from their peers and those who have studied before them. Sam’s mate and now colleague Liam Sharpe (former Intequal trained apprentice) set the bar high by achieving several awards as well as additional responsibility and progression within the organisation.

Following his apprenticeship success, Sam is now enjoying additional responsibilities, like visiting major Tekgem customers in the Petrochemical industry to conduct Cyber Security audit activities on legacy systems, control systems and protocols; making related recommendations and running projects to update and replace unsupported technology and improve customer’s security postures. Sam is keen to continuously learn, gaining further accreditations in cyber security and other areas of his field.

We asked Sam what nuggets of wisdom would he pass on to someone younger than him looking at their career and study options? Sam said, “I do feel that apprenticeship need to be better communicated by schools and colleges. Just two weeks after I had started college, my tutor sat me down to fill in my UCAS form. No other options were discussed, and it was a given that this would be my study progression route. I tell my younger sister Katie to not be rushed, stop and look at the study options open to you. Don’t be pushed in one direction believing that is the only or best route open to you.”

“In my experience, especially having visited both study routes, a work-based learning programme like an apprenticeship works very well to begin a technology-based career. In IT you learn from doing and the training provides the theory to back up the practical activities. The skills learnt on this apprenticeship provided me with a fantastic grounding to support my day-to-day activities and then the on the job work provides the experience variety I needed to understand how to apply the theory as every customer has different environments. This combination has fast tracked my learning way beyond my initial University studies”


Sam has just been awarded Intequal’s Network Engineer Apprentice of the Year Award

Congratulations to Sam and the Tekgem team