Business Technology

Army of digital apprentices saluted as “key weapon in battle for faster business growth”

3 min read

13 August 2015

Former deputy editor

Businesses across the UK require 134,000 new tech specialists annually, and digital apprenticeships have been hailed as the “key weapon” to unlock rapid business growth in all industries.

The Tech Partnership – a network of employers building skills in the digital economy – and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have claimed there is a “need for businesses in all sectors to embrace tech apprenticeships as a key weapon in the battle for faster business growth”.

The government’s National Apprenticeship Week resulted in Halfords, Greene King, Boots, British Airways and more promising to create 23,000 apprenticeships across the UK, but this new study underlines the importance for many of those posts to be of the digital variety.

Businesses across the country require 134,000 new tech specialists each year, and half of those are in junior positions, according to the findings. With 1.3m people working in said tech specialist field, which rose by six per cent in 2014, 42 per cent of companies from all industries believe its harder to fill vacancies for the role.

“Graduates have always been a source of new blood into tech careers. But in today’s fast moving environment, employers are also increasingly enthused by apprenticeships as a way to attract and develop new people – and are finding that a rich seam of talent,” said Margaret Sambell, director of strategy at the Tech Partnership.

“While more and more businesses are introducing apprenticeships, a concerted effort is required across all industries to meet demand, as well as to make sure these apprentices gain the skills they need to actively contribute to Britain’s digital future.”

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Indeed, this year has seen companies say they’re twice as likely to offer a tech apprenticeship than they were previously. Additionally, the amount of people applying for tech apprenticeships has doubled over the past three years, thus an average of 14 people apply for each vacancy, compared to nine applicants for apprenticeships overall.

Firms involved in the Tech Partnership include Accenture, BT, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Samsung and O2, while non-tech partners include Asda, BBC, Jaguar Land Rover, Lloyds, Network Rail, Royal Mail and Save the Children.

Damian Jacobs, IT emerging talent manager at Lloyds said apprenticeships have helped to “find people with tremendous ability and enthusiasm”, while IBM’s UK apprenticeship manager Jenny Taylor added that its programme helps candidates to “develop the right combination of skills, experience and contacts while thriving in a fast paced business environment”.

Sambell concluded: “It’s vital that companies make use of the best and most effective methods to ensure a successful outcome for both employer and apprentice. Employers have been working together through the Tech Partnership to make it easier for companies to take on a tech apprentice with confidence.”

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