Choosing the right partners and candidates is essential, explains MCSA’s HR Manager Susan Mullerworth
Many UK businesses, especially those in the IT industry, are increasingly concerned about the low number of individuals who possess the right skills coming into the sector. Combine this with the challenge of balancing an aging workforce, and it means that tackling future skill shortages is now a key focus. Employers urgently need to implement succession planning and training, and to introduce apprenticeship schemes to ensure that skills are correctly transferred from mature to younger employees.
As the UK is a high skills economy, we will need more people capable of supporting and managing complex IT systems, as well as programmers and developers. Apprenticeships are increasingly recognised as a highly positive, proven way to develop young people into productive, skilled and professional members of staff – providing the workplace with enthusiasm, talent and fresh ideas.
Apprenticeship programmes give young people the opportunity to combine work and study, and a path leading to a rewarding career. An apprenticeship in the IT sector promises a career in an attractive industry – as well as removing the burden of student debt.
It’s also worth noting that an apprenticeship is not just about technical skills. The mixed learning approach will allow individuals to also gain the confidence and credibility required to thrive in modern, high-tech environments.
Top five tips
The company scheme: Ensure that the scheme has the backing of your board and you have clarity about how the structure of your company can effectively support the apprentices’ roles.
The apprentice: Be careful in your selection and recruitment of candidates and ensure that they are well aligned to your working environment. You must also provide pastoral support and supervision – always be patient and keep young minds busy.
The training provider: Have a good relationship with your provider and ensure that their training corresponds to the needs of your organisation. Insist that they provide information support and assistance, and that you are comfortable with the key personnel provided by them.
The local community: Spread the word – ensure that your company is known in the local community as a keen advocate for apprenticeships. Contact local schools and colleges promoting your apprenticeship scheme and support the local community.
CPD (continuing professional development): Look beyond the apprenticeships and create a CPD plan which is regularly reviewed with the student. The plan must match their career ambitions and professional projections, so include additional certifications and qualifications.
The Apprenticeship Levy: a blessing or curse?
The fact that the Apprenticeship Levy is imposing upward investment in training and is generating awareness of this topic, via the media, means it’s a positive move. Businesses now need clarity from the government on how funds will be allocated and spent. This is a major change in policy so it’s important that the government builds monitoring rules and a provision for changes should the scheme need adjustment.
Since starting our investment programme in apprentices we have been impressed with the value that they bring to our business in both short and longer term. In general, any scheme which helps encourage this type of investment in other businesses should bring benefits, so long as it is supported correctly by both the government and the companies, which may feel imposed upon. Time will tell if this helps apprenticeships or not in the future.