Digital apprentices have key role to play in UK SME growth » SMEInsider

Digital apprentices have key role to play in UK SME growth

Over 130,000 technology specialists are needed by UK businesses every single year to keep up with demand, with two in five companies saying they struggle to recruit for digital roles, according to new research from the Tech Partnership, in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Experian.

The Tech Partnership, an association of employers aiming to create more opportunities for those hoping to work in the digital sector, claims that apprenticeships have a crucial role to play in filling the UK’s digital skills gap.

The research shows that in 2015 businesses are twice as likely to hire an apprentice, with a record number of apprentices applying for roles. Technology apprenticeships have proved particularly attractive for young recruits, with 14 applicants for every tech apprenticeship vacancy advertised, compared with an average of 9 applicants for apprenticeship vacancies in general.

As we reported in March, over a million small business owners lack basic digital skills, so digital apprentices can provide much-needed support for SMEs looking to improve the digital side of their business.

Jon Hulme, co-founder of successful SME, The Craft Gin Club, says that he has found apprentices a valuable asset:

‘‘I have been taking on two apprentices a year for the past 3 years and find they add value very quickly: I recruit for aptitude and attitude and in my experience apprentices gain skills fast and are keen to apply them in the business.’’

‘‘I also find they bring enthusiasm and new ideas – I have been very pleased with the contribution they make.’’

As 2015’s A-Level results being released, Margaret Sambell, director of strategy at The Tech Partnership was keen to highlight the growth in popularity  of apprenticeships as a way into a tech career, rather than the more traditional university route:

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.

“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.”