Concerns raised over lack of ICT apprenticeships

According to new figures from the Skills Funding Agency, demand for ICT apprenticeships is heavily outstripping supply, with ten candidates now scrapping over each vacancy.

The figures, obtained by accounting firm SJD Accountancy, indicate that 13,060 people started ICT apprenticeships in 2013/14, down 33% on 2011/12. This is despite the number of applications for ICT apprenticeships almost trebling during that period, from 48,350 to 133,800. This means there are now over 10 applicants competing for each vacancy, compared with 2.5 in 2010/11.

SJD chief executive Simon Curry said: “The Government has made apprenticeships a policy focus for a number of years, but despite us noticing an upward trend in the number of roles for IT contractors, the number of apprentices in the IT sector is on a worrying downward trend.

“The UK tech sector has been one of the star performers of the economy in recent years and has created significant demand for fresh talent. It is therefore vitally important that we continue to bring young talent into the industry. The jump in apprenticeship applications shows that there is growing appetite among candidates for careers in ICT. The concern is that employers are not being provided with the right encouragement to take on and train young professionals.”

Ben Rowland, co-founder and commercial director at Arch, the fast growing IT and Digital Apprenticeship programme, said: “UK IT employers are missing a massive open goal if they are not opening up their recruitment channels to apprentices.  Apprentices’ mindset – fresh, enthusiastic, keen to get their hands dirty – is well suited to the changing requirements for entry-level roles in the IT industry where agile, rapid response and customer focus are essential.”