Why more employers should embrace digital apprenticeships

August 17, 2015

PM Editorial 13 Aug 2015

Analysis finds vocational training offers quick return on investment

It’s well known that skilled employees can give an organisation the edge over competitors and this is certainly true for the UK economy as a whole, particularly when it comes to technology skills.

But analysis from employer support group the Tech Partnership suggests that opportunities to gain this advantage are being missed by UK organisations.

Its research found that the UK needs 134,000 new digital specialists every year with about half of these being in junior level roles. However, two out of five recruiters said they struggle to fill these roles and 85 per cent of employers say the problem is down to skills shortages.

This mismatch between supply and demand shows no signs of abating as the analysis showed that there are now 1.3 million people in the UK who work as tech specialists, which is an increase of 6 per cent in 2014 alone. As the competition for talent is expected to heat up further, the Tech Partnership has urged more employers to embrace tech apprenticeships as a value for money solution.

And the data shows that many employers have already recognised how vocational training can offer a competitive advantage in the battle for faster business growth. This year, businesses said that they are twice as likely to offer a tech apprenticeship than in previous years.

Candidates are responding to these opportunities with figures showing that the number of people applying for tech apprenticeships has doubled in the past three years, the Tech Partnership research showed. There are now 14 applicants for every tech apprenticeship vacancy advertised, compared with an average of nine applications for apprenticeship places in general.

Damian Jacobs, group IT emerging talent manager at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “Through apprenticeships, we’ve been able to reach out to across our operations in the UK to get tech talent, and find people with tremendous ability and enthusiasm for their roles. Our apprentices bring a positive attitude and a determination to succeed and they are a real asset to our organisation. Through our work with Tech Partnership, we will have our first cohort studying for the Degree Apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions in September this year.”

Jenny Taylor, UK graduate, apprenticeship and student programme manager at IBM, said: “We are continually looking to develop and invest in future leaders and our apprenticeship programme is an important way for us to attract and develop high quality entrants who have future leadership potential.”

Margaret Sambell, director of strategy at the Tech Partnership, said: “Graduates have always been a source of new blood into tech careers. But in today’s fast moving environment, employers are also increasingly enthused by apprenticeships as a way to attract and develop new people – and are finding that a rich seam of talent. While more and more businesses are introducing apprenticeships, a concerted effort is required across all industries to meet demand, as well as to make sure these apprentices gain the skills they need to actively contribute to Britain’s digital future.”

Experian conducted the research on behalf of the Tech Partnership, examining and combining data from the Office for National Statistics and in-depth employer survey results.

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