Education Secretary Damian Hinds recently confirmed the government's promise of three million apprenticeship starts in England by 2020 is going to be missed.
This is a disappointment, given how vital this pathway for learning has become for the future of our digital world.
For too long, apprenticeships have not been afforded the attention or respect that they deserve. Snobbery, coupled with a lack of agency to design excellent schemes seem to hold us back at a time when we need apprenticeships more than ever before.
Offering the chance to learn practical and sought after skills not only helps businesses grow but also boosts employment and the economy.
Yet the numbers keep dwindling, even though companies can also tap into a government levy to use towards apprenticeship programmes.
Something is not right.
With the rising cost of university fees, and the critical skills shortage of digital skills, apprenticeships should be prioritised to capture the talent and opportunities needed to keep the UK’s business sector thriving.
Add to the mix the looming deadline for Brexit and a drop in skilled foreign workers coming to Britain, and it’s no question that businesses should be urgently working towards training, at the very least, the next generation of software engineers and IT specialists.
Good training costs money – and the best courses are often too cost-prohibitive for most aspiring students or returning parents who want to consider a job in tech.
Going down the student loan route is one answer, but the burden of debt puts off many people off. Also, having to work and train at the same time is problematic for most people who need a steady income each month.
We believe that the best answer to addressing the tech skills and diversity gap in the country is through the Apprenticeship Levy, and spending money on the training courses offered by members of the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP).
At Makers we’ve managed to achieve this successfully by working with some of the biggest companies in the country to create bespoke apprenticeship training programmes that provide the skills that businesses need so that coders can begin work the moment they join the workplace.
But it’s not just offering practical training that’s important – it’s how you teach the apprenticeship programme as well. Apprentices have to be engaged, excited, and challenged.
Our Level 4 Software Developer Apprenticeship programme is a close copy of the successful software engineering training we’ve been running for the past 6 years. We frontload the training so by the time your Apprentice is on-site with the company, they can hit the ground running immediately.
The approach Makers uses revolves around Test Driven Development, Pair Programming, Agile and Software craftsmanship. There is also a focus on emotional intelligence and learning how to learn.
Apprenticeships can give employers an amazing opportunity to invest in a workforce that will help their companies grow and thrive. The UK can make this work, by getting rid of the stigma against apprenticeships, and by encouraging governments to work with providers to understand the procurement challenges preventing businesses from tapping into the levy.
There should also be checks and balances in place so that apprenticeship programmes are practical and fit for purpose. We know this is possible – we’ve created an apprenticeship programme that works.
Others should follow our playbook and learn exactly what businesses want and deliver it to them effectively with or without the government’s help.
The benefits of succeeding are too big and significant to ignore.Evgeny Shadchnev, CEO, Makers