The skills gap in the IT sector is already a key priority for both the government and employers, as many companies already struggle to fill roles with the highly skilled workers necessary to keep Britain competitive on the international digital stage.
According to the Tech Nation report - produced by Tech City UK an authoritative analyser of the UK’s digital economy - 40% of employers have confirmed their greatest challenge to growth is attracting talent, with 20% of employers having to recruit from the EU.
Post-Brexit, the prospect of losing workers and broadening the skills gap even further, poses many questions of the UK, principally, how are employers going to find highly skilled workers to not only fill the gaps but create the competition necessary to raise the standards of the technology sector as a whole?
One thing that is clear from this event, is the need to futureproof the UK’s workforce against further changes in the technology sector. This is a process with a domestic focus, given the large cloud hanging over foreign workers at the moment, which then asks questions of the UK education system. An immediate solution to this growing problem can surely be found with apprenticeships.
Employers have an opportunity to benefit from a low-cost, low-risk way to bring new talent into their business, and also a highly effective way of developing the skills of their future workforce, with the added benefit of government funding to cover the costs of training.
Last summer the government revealed their ambitious plans to increase the number of apprenticeships in our country to 3 million by 2020. Prior to this, the government commissioned an independent review of apprenticeship programmes in England in order to gain an understanding how this could be achieved.
‘The Richard Review’ took place in 2012 and was tasked with identifying how more employers could take on apprentices. The review identified a number of key areas where significant improvements were required in order to make apprenticeships more responsive and better aligned to the changing needs of employers. This, in turn, would increase the quality of apprenticeship programmes, making them much more valuable and beneficial to employers.
The aims were to:
The solution = Trailblazer Standards which will be replacing the existing apprenticeship frameworks. These new standards are written definitions of the skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice must demonstrate within their job role. The new apprenticeship standards have been designed by the leading employers in the digital sector.
Apprenticeships not only offer employers the opportunity to mould their own highly skilled experts, but they provide an immediate employee that can work from day one. From the young person’s perspective, apprenticeships don’t require years of higher education before the rewards can be reaped in the workplace.
With the pace that the technology sector evolves, having an employee who is actively learning and up to date with advances as they develop, is one of the most efficient forms of education. It is a widely held belief that the information that you learn at the start of a higher education course in computing is out of date by the time you find a job after graduating, meaning further time must be spent by employers bringing a fresh graduate up to speed.
In contrast, after three years of employing an apprentice (the length of your average undergraduate degree) employers can be sure that they have an emerging expert in their field, who is experienced in the role, and whose development has been tailored to suit the company from the outset.
The utilisation of apprentices not only closes the gap on the digital skills shortage, but it brings the UK up to speed with other countries at the digital cutting edge, such as Sweden and Germany, where apprenticeships are considered a reputable and competitive alternative to university. Some of the questions regarding training time and resources, that have limited apprenticeships in the past, have now been successfully overcome by training providers such as Baltic Training Services, where their unique, flexible and innovative approach to delivering learning is what sets them apart from all other providers.
At Baltic Training Services, apprenticeships are delivered via a virtual classroom which enhances the learning experience. The apprentice can attend and complete the course without leaving the office, reducing travel and accommodation costs and increasing their effectiveness as an employee. The case for IT apprentices playing an increasingly significant role in the future of the UK’s digital workforce could not be clearer.
To learn more about apprenticeship funding and planning for your future talent pipeline – contact us on 01325 731065, firstname.lastname@example.org