From education to employment


A trailblazing triumvirate has been established today, as digital fashion retailer N Brown, coding school Code Nation and training company Corndel, join forces to train digital recruits using Apprenticeship Levy funding streams.

The deal, Code Nation’s first in the North of England, will see up to five N Brown apprentices trained by Manchester-headquartered Code Nation each year. The Levy’s broad criteria does away with historic apprenticeship age limits, meaning that recruits of all backgrounds are eligible; the partners are confident it will give UK PLC a blueprint for the successful use of the Levy – and a proven concept for the effective training of digitally-skilled workers amidst mass national shortage.

Code Nation CEO Andy Lord explained:

“The fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 is well underway. Whilst that’s great for businesses, for the country and for our commercial futures, we’re in danger of forgetting that there just aren’t enough digital people to keep UK PLC ahead of the curve; current projections suggest we’re around 1 million people short.

“Code Nation’s interpretation of the Levy is that it should remove any barriers for employers looking for coding skills; we exist to help fill the skills gap for these businesses by engaging with them, then upskilling the next generation of software developers accordingly.”

N Brown Group – whose brand portfolio includes JD Williams, Jacamo and Simply Be – will send its apprentices on a three-month long course at Code Nation where they’ll train to become coders and developers.

The funding for their training is accessed from the Apprenticeship Levy scheme by Corndel – a process that one senior Government advisor has described as “education as modern education should be done”.

Clare Jay, Apprenticeship Lead at N Brown elaborated on the Group’s use of the model:

“N Brown have really embraced the opportunities the Apprenticeship Levy offers to develop new and existing talent and form innovative new partnerships. We’ve fully grasped the Apprenticeship Levy and unlocked a way of making it work within our business to accelerate our performance.

“I’m extremely excited and proud about this new partnership and the potential it has to ensure N Brown is leading the way in developing amazing new digital talent. We’re a digital retailer, working harder than ever to stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing marketplace. Across the board in retail there’s an unsustainable demand for digital talent and that’s where we’ve seen the opportunity of the Levy scheme; we’re now one of the first in our sector using it to future-proof our digital workforce.”

Tim Price, Director of Technology at N Brown values the potential apprentices offer to grow new tech talent:

“In our technology focused environment, up-skilling our talent is one of our primary objectives, we strive for great people who do great things. However, it is getting more and more competitive and we are indeed feeling the digital skills gap in Manchester.

“We are looking for apprentices with a spark, a passion for technology, who want to help make a difference. Code Nation helps them to realise their potential earlier through an immersive and focused approach.  Our Tech Leads and Engineers are also involved, supporting and setting real work projects and challenges as part of theCode Nation course. We want our apprentices to feel part of our squad right from the beginning of the course.

“I am genuinely excited with our Code Nation partnership as we can continuously challenge the digital and tech skills gap in the UK. We can offer a fantastic opportunity to school leavers and those looking for secure but exciting career change, even within our own business.”

The Government-led Apprenticeship Levy was launched as part of a plan to solve the UK’s skills shortages; it is mandatory scheme for any businesses with a remuneration bill in excess of £3million, of which they now pay 0.5% as a levy to boost training.

The first three N Brown apprentices are now undertaking the training having started at Code Nation today; Andy Lord concluded:

“We are delighted that the first recruits under this partnership are now in place and, after just three months of coding training, we’ll be handing them back to N Brown as fully-fledged coders.”

Related Articles