Apprenticeships Bridging Tech Skills Gap

Skills gap in the IT sector

According to the Open University, the lack of skilled available workers is costing companies around £2.2 billion a year in higher salaries and temporary resourcing.

The British Chambers of Commerce found 52% of firms say that skills shortages are increasing the workload for existing staff – which only further disrupts productivity.

Those that choose university can, in certain industries, graduate with skills that no longer match the world of work. Deloitte found that just 12% of graduates have enough digital skills – down from 20%.

In 2016, IBM prophesised that the digital skills gap would stifle the growth of the tech industry not only due to the lack of existing talent, but a failure to keep up with the growing demand.

Government addressing skills gap

One in 10 job-seekers in the UK’s Tech industry is foreign, according to Indeed. So, while the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has had a small effect on the digital talent available, the solution lies within the UK workforce.

The government set up the Digital Inclusion Strategy in 2016, to combat the issue of fundamental digital skills. But this initiative was focused on providing essential skills to the general population and didn’t directly address those entering the UK’s workforce.

The Apprenticeship Levy followed, coming into effect in April of 2017, partly as a reboot to the existing system, but also largely to offer organisations a new framework to fill the skills gaps that they faced.

Utilising the apprenticeship levy

Apprenticeships are already a proven solution to filling the digital skills gap. Amazon recently pledged to create more than 1,000 apprenticeship roles before 2021, showing confidence in the levy as a means of filling their skills gaps.

Just IT recently worked with the IDE Group an IT Manager Service Provider, supporting them on using their levy to source new talent.

Diana Chance – Onsite Services Manager IDE Group

“It can be challenging to find talented people in the IT and Technology sector. Here at IDE we have utilised the Apprenticeship Levy to hire great people and get the skills we required in our teams. It’s been a really crucial part of our talent acquisition strategy and a very cost-effective way to add value to our capabilities.”

The structure of a 3-4-year university degree means that graduates enter the workforce with skills that are slightly outdated in the world of tech, often without the critical workplace experience they’ll need to attract the attention of employers.

But apprenticeships typically take 14 months to complete depending on the chosen pathway, and with the added element of on-the-job training and experience, apprentices contribute more value to the business – faster.

Another IT service provider, Virtual IT, also found using apprenticeships a cost-effective way to bring in the skills they required for their business.

Toby Wakelin – COO – Virtual IT

“As an IT Managed Services Provider, it is crucial that we have talented people with technical and soft skills to deliver for our clients. Finding the right people is always a challenge. Our apprenticeship programme has worked really well for us at bringing in new talent we can develop with the existing team, while our partnership with Just IT brings the benefit of delivering the external training and certification our apprentices need to thrive in a competitive IT market.”

The future of apprenticeships

According to Reed, 85% of apprentices stay in full-time employment after completing their programme, of which 64% stay with their current employer – so retention of talent is higher than the average for hires.

IT and digital apprenticeships – like our Infrastructure Tech and Software Developer apprenticeships – are level 4, which is in line with the trend of growing higher level, higher-skilled apprenticeships. The skills gap in tech is due to a lack of technical skills. The vision for apprenticeships in the UK is further embedded higher level apprenticeships to complement industry. University UK believes this approach to apprenticeships should be employer-led – to meet the needs of the economy – and aim to deliver a higher level of skills.

We offer free advice on how to utilise the apprenticeship levy to hire new staff or to invest in developing your existing teams.