In the fourth industrial revolution, we’re evolving from a digital sense more quickly than ever before. At the same time, we’re seeing a shortfall in digital skills for people to fill vital roles that will keep the UK a successful economy and keep businesses competitive.

This is why apprentices are so important. They give students both the soft and digital skills needed to pursue kick-start a career while getting training and accreditation. Apprentices are also good for business – 92 percent stay with the company they started with. They also provide organisations a cost-effective way to develop talent and get the right skills businesses need to stay competitive.

We speak to two Cloud Solution Architect Apprentices at Microsoft to discover why they took this career path, and how they’re planning to develop the skills needed to create technology that helps empower people.

Orla Fletcher Dowd head shot, a young lady smiling at the camera with dark hair.Orla Fletcher-Dowd, Level 6 degree apprentice, Cloud Solution Architect 

Why did you choose to become an apprentice?

I chose to do an apprenticeship because I would be able to gain relevant, real-world experience while boosting my career prospects. Plus, I get to work for a world-class organisation all whilst gaining a degree.

However, at school the opportunity to learn about apprenticeships and the benefits they bring was not always there. By the time I had finished my A Levels I already had a place to study at university.

Despite this, during my gap year I decided to look into apprenticeships and what they had to offer. I was amazed to see the variety of opportunities that were out there, and as a result I applied to the Microsoft Apprenticeship Programme.

A day in the life of a Cloud Solution Architect Apprentice

As a fairly new apprentice, I am currently focusing on working towards my degree while exploring all aspects of the company. I’m aiming to get a better understanding of how an organisation like Microsoft works. As well as this, a lot of my work revolves around familiarising myself with Azure.

I’m also training in the Azure Portal, which is web-based, unified console that provides an alternative to command-line tools. It allows you to build, test and deploy applications and services.

Having the flexibility to study part-time, work as part of a team and get involved with stretch projects gives me the opportunity to not only improve my technical skills, but my soft skills as well.

What do you want to do in the future?

I am keen to explore the cognitive aspects of AI and machine learning. I’m particularly interested in conversational AI, image recognition and natural language processing – all of which mimics the way the human brain works. I want to help discover how these services can innovate solutions that can benefit both people and the environment.

A career as a Cloud Solution Architect will provide me with the relevant skills and experience needed to create these solutions, with the help of the cloud, and introduce new strategies/applications into the market.

I believe the cloud applications we’re seeing today are just the tip of the iceberg. As technology advances further, who knows what will be possible 10 years from now, but this is definitely something I want to be part of.

Davina Loures headshot, a young lady smiling at the camera with dark hair.Davina Loures, Level 6 degree apprentice, Cloud Solution Architect

Why did you choose to become an apprentice?

I spent my youth engaged in extra learning – spending one-on-one time with teachers and at the age of 10 I moved straight from year 4 to year 6.  By 15, I was attending gifted and talented academic programs at universities like UCL and KCL every Saturday. The word ‘university’ was repeated by family members and teachers alike, to the point where this idea of attending daily lectures and exhausting myself with essay writing for the next three years of my post-sixth form life was firmly embedded in my mind.


But it didn’t excite me. As an avid tech enthusiast, I spent my days messing around and experimenting with my Raspberry Pi. I wanted to get stuck in ASAP and start making my mark in the digital world, which is why I opted for a gap year first before applying to university.

After scouring the internet for a placement to fill the year, I came across the Microsoft Apprenticeship Program. Upon passing my interviews and being offered a place at Microsoft, I proceeded immediately to break the news to my parents. They were over the moon once they learnt more about the program.

I am now a Cloud Solution Architect Degree Apprentice at Microsoft. This means I don’t have to wait three years before getting real-world experience and making an impact. I also still get the learning opportunity and support and a degree at the end to satisfy my parents. I couldn’t have thought of a more logical solution to my dilemma.

A day in the life of a Cloud Solution Architect Apprentice

There is no typical day. Every day is completely different from the last which aligns perfectly with the ever-evolving tech space.

The number of things to get involved in here at Microsoft are endless. In the short three months that I’ve been in the company, I’ve been involved in a number of hackathons which are fun, hands on team events run by Microsoft for employees and partners alike to skill up in specific technical fields. I’ve been able to build-up my technical skills, such as Azure. This has meant that I’ve already been able to gain a certifications for Azure

As well as this, I’ve also been exposed to numerous shadowing opportunities, allowing me to sit in on customer meetings and calls and learn more about the role in-person. The numerous tech huddles and team engagements that occur on a monthly basis opens the door for me to be able to network with people with people and learn with them.

Microsoft also has a massive early in careers community, meaning one can always relate to others in the same position. My favourite part of being an apprentice is being thrown into this learn-it-all, not know-it-all culture that embodies the company.

Everyone is so willing to give their time to explain things and help out when needed that it’s definitely accelerated my learning. The culture has to be the highlight of the company, which is why I love working here so much. Everything done here is literally helping to change the world, as well as making meaningful impacts on peoples day-to-day lives.

What do you want to do in the future?

As for what I want to do in the future, it’s still unclear. The exposure to the different opportunities you get as an apprentice are limitless. I know that as I journey through my next 4.5 years, my mind will be changed a hundred times as the technological generation continues to advance.

My hopes, however, are that my work can help out those less advantaged through the use of technology, and as stated in Microsoft’s mission statement to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.

Different apprentices for different roles

Not all apprenticeships are for technical roles. Apprenticeships can encompass a wide range of roles in your organisations – from sales to marketing all the way to finance and business. We’ve also chatted to three apprentices who work in business management and find out more about their experiences.

Three young people, a man and two women smiling at the camera

Futureproofing employees and organisations

By considering apprenticeships, Orla and Davina are futureproofing their careers. While they build vital early-in-career skills, technical accreditations, and even a degree, they’re developing into employees that are empowered to create and support the next generation of technology to help empower.

Organisations that bring in apprentices can help develop employees with the skills they need to stay competitive. Not only that, apprentices are more likely to stay loyal with the company they started with and remain there after their apprenticeship ends.

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