From education to employment

National Apprenticeship Week: Building skills for life

This week (6-10 February 2023) is National Apprenticeship Week, which celebrates the

impact apprenticeships make to communities, businesses, and the wider economy. Now in its 16th year, the week shines a light on the importance of helping young people get a foot in the door of the working world and developing them with the skills they and their organisation needs to grow. We spoke to two experts to get their perspectives on why apprenticeships are a win-win for young people and businesses. 

  1. Securing top talent

Companies of all sizes are facing a severe shortage of tech skills. According to techUK’s recent Digital Economy Monitor, 57% of UK IT firms find the present talent shortage and access to skills one of the biggest barriers for their companies. 

“With demand for qualified workers at an all time high, organisations are looking for alternative ways to locate and develop IT talent more effectively,” explains Jen Locklear, Chief People Officer at ConnectWise. “Apprenticeship programmes provide an effective solution for bridging this gap – helping to grow the workforce while equipping tech talent with the skills, training, and certifications they need to grow their careers.”

“Apprenticeship schemes open up the candidate pool to allow companies, especially smaller companies, to take advantage of talent that may have previously been overlooked due to a lack of experience. This way, they can invest in building leaders from the ground up, instead of relying on a candidate pool that may have previously been cost prohibitive.”

“With skills gaps posing a risk to 80% of IT teams’ ability to meet their objectives, it’s clear that recruitment, retention and training must become a top business priority in 2023,” agrees Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft. “Employers should consider widening their hiring strategies as they contend with today’s tight job market and an ever-evolving workplace. For example, looking at “STAR” candidates — workers who are ‘Skilled Through Alternative Routes’.” 

  1. Developing agile workers

Apprenticeship courses offer a clear path to providing candidates with the vital skills needed by organisations today and in the future. 

Skillsoft’s Nowakoska explains how apprenticeship schemes are mutually beneficial to employer and learner: “They combine hiring with upskilling, helping organisations bridge their skills gap and meet business objectives. At the same time, apprenticeships provide a way into the industry for candidates who are increasingly struggling to navigate a job market in which entry-level jobs demand years of experience. 

“In recent years, hiring requirements have shifted. Emphasis has been less on technical qualifications and more on power skills such as creativity, collaboration and time management. Apprenticeship schemes help to nurture these skills to supplement technical learning. By doing so, organisations can develop agile employees that are adaptable to the changing requirements of today’s workforce – starting them off on a journey of continuous lifelong learning.”

“This National Apprenticeship Week, employers should focus on building ‘Skills for Life’ by championing continuous learning and development over traditional, one-off qualifications,” she urges. 

  1. Diversifying opportunity

Apprenticeships also play an important role in building a more diverse and inclusive team, ensuring that people of all backgrounds can fulfil their potential. 

 One of the many benefits is to enable a new entry point for businesses to attract skilled and diverse individuals to their teams,” Locklear concludes. “While the tech sector has traditionally struggled with diversity and inclusion, internal training programs can play a crucial role in expanding opportunity and creating a much more diverse hiring pool.”

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