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We’re big advocates of apprenticeship schemes here at CDS. For us, apprenticeships aren’t just about gaining real-life work experience or ‘starting off’ in a company. They’re about helping you to build a long-term, rewarding career. That means discovering and building on your talents, developing your skills, and improving your overall employability.

Whether you’re a school leaver or someone wanting a complete career change, apprenticeships can offer deeply enriching life experiences.

Several CDS employees started their careers as an apprentice – either here or at another firm – and we thought you might be interested to hear some of their apprenticeship-to-career stories, below.

Mark Gair

CDS MD Mark Gair.

Now Managing Director of CDS – with over 30 years in the industry – Mark began his career as an apprentice in a small print company. This is his story…

When I left school, I originally wanted to be an architect, but I didn’t want to have to wait a year for a placement. My eagerness to get into the world of work saw me take advantage of an advert to join a creative designer apprenticeship at a graphic design firm.

I was over the moon to be accepted and was fortunate enough to be sent to Leeds University on placement as part of the scheme. Having supported me through my studies over several years, it was great that the company then wanted to keep me on – seeing me spend nine years working for them in total.

I learned a lot during my time there, and when I made my next move, I was determined to further develop my knowledge and understanding of the rapidly evolving industry – with various learning and development opportunities along the way.

I gained experience in various roles and was involved in services – including large print manufacturing, content management, business processing outsourcing, data, as well as digital and technical development.

I eventually progressed to more senior, director-level positions, with my more recent roles being at board level – seeing me spend a large portion of my working week away from home either in London or across Europe. Most of my jobs have involved significant responsibilities — and the last two were with large global corporations reporting to both a US and UK board.

I’ve now been at CDS for five years and I love being part of an organisation that enables strategic change and strives to make a positive difference to society.

It was always part of my plan to progress to managing director and here we are – all thanks to my initial apprenticeship over three decades ago.

Aimee Swaine

Service manager, Aimee began her career as an apprentice right here at CDS in 2014 – and she’s never looked back. This is her story…

Like many people, I left school not really knowing what I wanted to do. I knew I was interested in technology, but I wasn’t aware where this could take me, so I decided to take the plunge and apply for an apprenticeship at CDS.

That was in 2014, when I started my Level 2 qualification in computing and IT – splitting my week between one day per week at college and the other four at CDS HQ. With both college and practical, on-the-job training, I really got to grips with the company and the industry, and I finished the course in eight months. I was then delighted to have been offered a permanent position.

The one thing I would say is that I never felt like an ‘apprentice’. There are many misconceptions that you ‘start at the bottom and work your way up’ when you join as a trainee – and while it’s true, you are learning, I always felt like a fully-fledged member of the team from day one. I was certainly expected to deliver the same standard of work as everyone else in the team, and that was really encouraging.

I may have started out as an apprentice, but with CDS’ continued support, advice, and investment in my learning and development, I was able to pursue my interests, hone my skills, and move up the ranks. First to junior service desk analyst, then service lead, senior service lead, and finally, to service manager – my current role.

CDS has supported my learning by putting me on industry standard courses from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and I’m currently completing a leadership programme as well. The team has been incredibly supportive – that’s very much a reflection of the wider culture, too.

I came to CDS as a blank canvas and have had the opportunity to carve out my own role in the organisation – with continued learning after my initial apprenticeship – so would I recommend an apprenticeship here? Hand on heart, I absolutely would.

We have a genuine commitment to nurturing the leaders of the future

Why do we see apprenticeships as the future of CDS?

We're passionate about nurturing the leaders of the future. That’s why we enable entry-level apprentices to build their own learning and career development plan focused on a specific business requirement. If employees can demonstrate a learning pathway that benefits both themselves and the business, we’ll happily support it and we have examples people doing various additional academic training courses including degrees and even MBAs.

As apprenticeships are not age-related, they are also a great way of introducing new and innovative thinking into the agency. Nurturing home-grown, on-the-job talent allows us to apply this learning into brand-new areas of interest which, over time, will deeply enrich and benefit both the individual and the wider business.

CDS is also part of the Bailie Group which means there are opportunities to grow within and across the operating companies in the group. There really are no limits in terms of opportunities.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship at CDS?
  • You’ll have many opportunities for honing your skills and interests, alongside developing expertise in your chosen field.
  • You’ll receive full support, advice, and investment in continuing your growth.
  • You’ll have access to a multitude of learning and development programmes.
  • You can build a long-term, rewarding career in a dynamic business.
  • You’ll benefit from an attractive salary – we’re committed to paying above the living wage.
  • You’ll be ‘making a positive difference’ to society through the work that you do.
Our list of apprenticeships
  • Apprentice Finance Business Partner
  • Apprentice IT Technical Sales Associate
  • Apprentice Business Support Administrator
  • Apprentice L&D Advisor
  • Apprentice DevOps Engineer
  • Apprentice Software Developer
  • Apprentice Data Analyst
  • Apprentice Junior Content Designer
  • Apprentice Junior UX Researcher / Designer
  • Apprentice Accessibility Executive
  • Apprentice Digital Marketing Executive
  • Apprentice Print Technician
  • Apprentice Project Manager

Find out more about one of our apprenticeships!