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Talent2017: Why Apprenticeships in Tech and Digital Are Not What You Think

The upcoming Talent2017 Skills Summit on the 16th March is a fantastic opportunity for digital businesses to update and expand their knowledge on how they can find, train and retain the talent they need to successfully grow their organisation.

In anticipation of the conference, we’re releasing a mini series of blog posts from some of the Skills Summit participants, who have kindly offered to put their thoughts in writing. This time, hear from Richard Freeman, Lead Project Consultant at Apprenticeship in Sussex and his insights on why apprenticeships could be the future of workforce development in our sector.

Fewer than 7% of Apprenticeships nationally are in the creative & digital sectors, despite big campaigns by the Tech Partnership and the development of a number of frameworks in social media marketing and software development.

Some of the big barriers for Sussex digital business engagement with Apprenticeships in the past have been put down to the fact it is really a graduate economy; Small and medium-size businesses, and start-ups are too small to manage staff who don’t have prior experience; the qualifications are inaccessible and out-of-date; the quality of candidates isn’t good enough – etc.

None of these are invalid reasons for not choosing an Apprentice, but they don’t really align with the revolution that is happening around the rest of the UK.

Apprenticeships are the future of workforce development in tech and digital, and here’s why:

  • Apprenticeships are just jobs with high-end training. The tech sector cannot afford not to invest in its workforce in order to meet the looming skills gaps. Right now, the Government is allocating over £3bn to co-invest in bridging the UK’s skills gaps – if we don’t use it, we’ll lose it.
  • As of the 1st April, anyone can be an Apprentice.  From level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to level 7 (postgrad equivalent) - new standards and new funding rules mean that Apprenticeships can be used for any new or existing staff as long as they are over 16.
  • You can now study for a full BSc in Software Engineering at the University of Chichester – and, yes, this is an Apprenticeship. A degree without debt, a full-time job with a salary and a fast-tracked career. And this is just the start.
  • Apprenticeships have a 90% retention rate for employment and 81% of consumers prefer to buy from businesses that have publicise their Apprenticeship programme. No brainer.
  • The Apprenticeship reforms are putting businesses in the driving seat. Employers are the commissioners of training, co-designing the curriculum and negotiating the price of training. Training providers can act as your workforce development consultants, and help you create bespoke plans for your skills development needs. Gone are the days when you are sold a training programme that you don’t need.
  • You can work with a group of other employers to develop a set of standards for the exact jobs you need to fill.
  • Sussex is full of tech talent that is underused, underdeveloped and hidden. Here is an opportunity to grow our own.

About the Author: Richard Freeman, Lead project consultant at Apprenticeship in Sussex

Richard Freeman is the Lead Project Consultant with the Sussex Council of Training Providers / Apprenticeships In Sussex and CEO of always possible, a creative business development consultancy.

Want to find out more? The Skills Summit includes a Lunchtime session on apprenticeship lead by Ann Potterton, Co-Executive Director at the Sussex Council of Training Providers and Apprenticeship in Sussex. You can get your ticket here.

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