Could Apprenticeships Fill Tech Skills Gap For Employers?

In December 2015 research by Empirica predicted that although there is likely to be a large shortage of trained candidates for digital jobs in 2020, it may not be as large as had previously been thought.

The same research found that only 1.7% of companies across Europe were fully utilising digital technologies like cloud, social media and mobile, and just 41% of them weren’t using those technologies at all, and this again was believed to be because of a lack of people in the workplace with up-to-date digital / tech skills.

New research by Tech Partnership recently highlighted in a Computer Weekly article suggests that three quarters of employers believe that this skills gap could be closed by taking on digital and technology apprentices. One of the current challenges to implementing this potential solution however is that half of UK employers do not currently run apprenticeship schemes.

Why Not?

The Tech Partnership research shows that 33% of employers aren’t offering apprenticeships because they say that they don’t currently have a suitable role for an apprentice in their company.

According to nearly 40% of employers they don’t currently have apprentices because the apprenticeship framework does not match their needs and their companies lack the knowledge of how to go about finding and supporting an apprentice. Almost 1 in 4 employers said they simply weren’t confident that they would be able to find the right kind of training to complement an apprenticeship programme.

Government Levy + Employer Partnership to Help

One idea from the government to help the creation of the target figure of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 has been the introduction of a levy whereby employers with a wage bill in excess of £3m will be subject to a 0.5% payroll levy to fund apprenticeships through an e-voucher system. The levy is thought to be likely to affect many tech firms because salaries tend to be higher than the national average.

Employers can also get help an advice about digital and technology apprenticeships from Tech Partnership, a network of around 800 employers, of all sizes and industry sectors, who collaborate to create the skills to accelerate the growth of the digital economy.

Tech Partnership are recognised by government as the Industrial Partnership for the Digital Economy, and Licensed by government as the Sector Skills Council for Business and Technology. For more information see https://www.thetechpartnership.com/.

What Does This Mean For Businesses?

At present it seems that businesses lack many of the in-house skills, the knowledge, and the confidence to make the most of the technology and digital opportunities available, and businesses need to seek help now in developing plans to meet their own tech / digital skills gap to remain competitive.

Rather than focusing too much on the challenges and possible objections to introducing an apprentice it is also worth considering the new thinking, possible new ideas and opportunities, and the enthusiasm that an apprentice could bring to a business.