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New apprenticeship programme launches to tackle UK’s skills and productivity gap

team celebrating
  • QA research shows 140% increase in business demand for product managers
  • 57% of UK tech firms cite shortage of talent and skills as biggest barrier for their business

QA, one of the world’s largest providers of digital skills training, has launched a new apprenticeship programme to train the next generation of digital product managers. It joins QA’s programmes in areas including data, cyber, AI and software development which have successfully trained more than 30,000 apprentices. 

The new course is a key part of QA’s initiative to tackle the UK’s skills and productivity gap by offering thousands of workers access to targeted training in high-demand skills. It follows a series of reports that highlight the UK’s reskilling challenge – McKinsey and Company report that 94% of the UK’s workforce lack the full suite of skills they will require in 2030 to perform their jobs well and QA’s own research into 515 CFOs and financial decision makers also found that 77% of businesses felt that reskilling was a priority. 

The Digital Product Manager Level 4 Programme, which is the equivalent of a first year undergraduate degree, has been created to meet soaring demand for product managers and spiralling product development costs. Recent research by QA found a 140% increase in demand for product managers in 2022 making it one of the most sought after skills. A report by McKinsey and Company found that 75% of companies said their product management functions were ‘subpar’ due to a lack of relevant skills. 

QA has worked with 96 of the current FTSE 100 and is accredited by all major technology vendors including Microsoft, AWS and Google Cloud. Last year QA helped train 439,000 professionals in technical and digital skills. 

The course will cover skills including the principles of database design, fundamentals of system design and task automation using AI, as well as applied product management. It concludes with a two day hackathon where students will develop a product from start to finish. 

Jo Bishenden, Managing Director Apprenticeships at QA, said: “The UK is facing a skills crisis which is only going to become more acute as innovations such as AI take hold. If we do not take action to solve it the UK will face higher costs, worsening productivity and lower growth. 

“To tackle this problem we need to provide people with a wide variety of training opportunities that address some of the largest gaps in technical skills. From speaking to businesses we found that product managers are currently one of the most sought after talents. Consequently, we created our Digital Product Manager programme to give people the ability to efficiently upskill themselves and gain access to a future-proof and lucrative new career.” 

The Digital Product Manager apprenticeship programme is a new standard set by the IfATE

in May 2023. Employers involved in creating the standard with the IfATE include Land Registry, Sainsburys, HMRC, Capita, Cision, CK Delta, the Home Office, and the Office for National Statistics. In addition to the standards set by IfATE, QA will become the only company to provide ICAgile Product Management Certification – an internationally recognised qualification – within a Digital Product Manager programme to apprentices. 

To apply for the programme, applicants need a minimum of one A-level in any subject and five GCSEs (with English and Maths C or above). Crucially, applicants do not need prior experience in product management. 

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