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Digital apprenticeships – the future of growing our own talent in Brighton & Hove?

I’ve been involved in some interesting discussions to help shape the future of digital skills in the city in the last week.

Last week I met with Wired Sussex members, Coast 2 Capital LEP, University of Brighton researchers, City College & local apprenticeship training providers, to discuss the future of digital talent in Brighton with Richard Freeman from Always Possible.  Leading on from the Wired Sussex Skills Summit last year we discussed the growing digital skills gap and how can we help close that gap with a collaborative and innovative approach.

Why did we meet?

The government has announced plans to introduce a new UK-wide levy on large employers to fund apprenticeships, a significant shift in skills policy and funding. The levy will be introduced in April 2017 at a rate of 0.5 per cent of an employer’s paybill.  Only businesses with a wage bill of more than £3m will pay the levy, which the government have said would exempt 98% of employers.

The government aims to deliver three million apprenticeships starting by 2020 using the estimated 3 billion created through this levy.

With university students coming out with average debts of £40K plus and with the new government agenda, everyone is talking apprenticeships.

Wired Sussex also sits on the city wide Employer Skills Task Force that’s lead by local councillor and apprenticeships expert Tom Bewick, who are discussing how we can create a cohesive and valuable apprenticeship system. We are also involved in writing the Greater Brighton Devolution bid that states we will aim to increase the number of apprenticeships by 100% in 5 years.

Wired Sussex have chosen not to be involved with digital apprenticeship programmes in the past because the frameworks were not fit for our members fast changing needs.  However there have been employers around the country challenging and recreating the existing frameworks and coming out with some good results, fit for employer needs.

What was said?

- We don’t just have a skills gap we have an interpersonal, team skills, employability skills, thinking and problem solving gap

- Companies who hire the right talent, choose each team member looking at 50% skills, 50% behaviours, if you have the right behaviours and attitudes in a person you can teach and they’ll learn how to do anything

- Will more people become self-employed (Fuse report) & will more students start going straight into self-employment?

- Some members who engaged in the conversation are already growing and nurturing their own young talent by employing apprentices and by running their own internal internship programmes. They would like to be funded to grow their programmes.

One challenge I highlighted to the group was if we create great apprenticeships opportunities with lots of employers how do we attract talent to become apprentices?  There are already some great digital apprenticeships in the city that are not being filled.

Moving forward:

- Create a Forum for all the organisations to continue the conversation

- Master classes run by local employers for local students to see real life working projects and how companies develop them

- Public list of available funding that businesses can access to hire apprentices/staff training etc

I also attended the Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership second Consultation Event this week to help structure our City Employment & Skills Plan with the City Council.  Creative, digital and tech skills are recognised as a fast pace growth area and so I fed back on behalf of our membership, how we could best improve the quality of skills provision & in-work skills progression for all ages.

Wired Sussex have some ideas about how we can best support our members to fill their talent gaps and grow our own talent locally.  We would love to hear your views too?

Are you already running your own in house training/apprenticeships/internship programme?  Please get in touch if you are, so you can be involved in the conversation/s. or call 01273 692888

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