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The apprentice magician

BT apprentice Katherine Scott explains why it's important young girls see they can be engineers too

In the last year, BT has hired over 900 apprentices, with another 700 expected as part of this year’s intake.

Katherine Scott applied to BT’s apprentice scheme in search of a new challenge after originally training to be a teacher, joining the Digital Technology Solutions programme. As part of her new role, she works directly on the BT Sport app, making sure that BT’s TV products and services are integrating properly across mobile devices, web browsers, and set top boxes. At the end of the four-year course, she will be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree.

Scott explains she made the decision to apply for the apprenticeship scheme after deciding to “reinvent” herself. “I’d always had an interest in TV and media, but probably more the media production side,” she says. “I hadn’t really thought about working in the technology side of it. But I thought, you know what, it’s a bit of a challenge.

“I just thought, if I’m interested in the creative side of it, why not go into it from there?” Scott continues. “This apprenticeship is so good because although I didn’t have the previous knowledge or background, BT supports you from any level as long as you show that you’re enthusiastic. So my lack of knowledge about technology was never really going to be a problem, and I was aware of that right from the moment that I started applying.”

Asked whether she realised just how much technology is involved in the way we consume content, Scott admits she had no idea before starting her apprenticeship. “I had no idea of the work that went on in the background!” she laughs. “I find it really interesting learning about how the content actually gets onto our screens. When I try and explain to people they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s just magic really, isn’t it?’ As a viewer you don’t think about how it gets there. The first team I joined when I started the apprenticeship was video on demand, so it was processing and encoding all the films and TV series that go over the YouView box for the app.”

Katherine Scott

Scott has chosen to enter an industry that is still predominantly male, something she discovered right from the very start of applying for the apprenticeship. “On my assessment day, where we have all the group interviews, I was the only girl in a room of 15 people, and as I walked in I thought it was slightly intimidating,” she explains. “But as soon as I actually got the job, there are so many females at BT Tower and especially as part of the actual apprenticeship team, it’s pretty equal. I’m not made to feel any less intelligent or worthy of being here than the male apprentices. 

“I do definitely feel a sense of responsibility for young females especially as I go into schools and colleges. It’s important for them to see me and hear that I’m training to be an engineer,” she adds.

Would Scott consider becoming a mentor to an apprentice herself? “Definitely!” she states. “At BT Tower, and other sites as well, we’ve got the option of becoming the apprenticeship coordinator in our final year and being the line manager to the apprentices. I’m a bit older than some of the apprentices, when I joined I was 22, and some of the intake in my year were just 18, and so I took on a bit of a mentor-type role anyway. I think that’s just developed as I’ve progressed in my role as an apprentice. So I definitely would consider that.”

Finally, where does Scott see her future path? Will she stay in the tech side of the industry, or is production still something that interests her? “I think there’s so many different possibilities,” she says. “At the moment I’m really focused on the tech side of it because I am really enjoying all the things that I’m learning. At the same time, it is fantastic to know that I’m in a company like BT so in 10 years time, if I wanted to join the production side of the company that’s an option for me. It’s really exciting.”