Digital apprentices, the public sector and the 3 million target

creative meeting young people

Ben Rowland is the co-founder of Arch Apprentices, a digital and IT apprenticeship provider that combines young talent with great employers including Facebook and Google to create valuable and productive employees in entry level IT and Digital jobs.

In this guest post, he explains the benefits of taking on an apprentice in the push to go digital.

The government has committed to creating 3 million apprenticeships in the next five years. That’s 11,538 every week (more than 2,000 on every working day of the week). Quite rightly, they want to increase quality as well as quantity.

This is quite a tall order.

At the same time, the public sector desperately needs to become more digital. That doesn’t mean simply adopting new fancy systems. Fundamentally, it’s about creating a workforce at ease with digital technology, comfortable with the flexible and customer-focused ways of working that digital enables (which end users increasingly expect) and having the overall mindset that is not embarrassed to be part of the 21st century. (By the way, it’s a myth that the private sector has somehow got this ‘nailed’ – we know of many private sector organisations large and small that are struggling with going digital.)

Again, a pretty tall order.

What if there was a way of achieving one of these things while helping the others? That would be pretty amazing, right?

There is.

For the past three years, the Blenheim Chalcot Group companies have been hiring IT and digital marketing apprentices from Arch Apprentices. They’ve hired more than 200, in fact. The government’s apprenticeship scheme has been sufficiently successful that other employers, including Google, Facebook, Lloyds, Barclays and John Lewis, as well as SMEs and charities, have hired digital apprentices of their own.

Today, nearly 900 young people have started their digital apprenticeships at Advanced and Higher levels with Arch. They’ve demonstrated that the right apprenticeships can have a big impact on their employers’ efforts in going digital.

Increasingly, apprentices aren’t going into orthodox IT and digital marketing roles. More and more employers are deploying them across their businesses, into roles that might have been (poorly) served by a non-digital business administration or customer service apprenticeship. The duties of the role may have been carried out by uninterested graduates or simply not done at all.

The public sector is conspicuous with its low rate of taking on apprentices – it has just a handful of organisations recruiting apprentices as part of the government’s scheme.

If the public sector wants to do its bit for the 3 million apprenticeships target and give itself a shot in the arm for its digital efforts, it could do worse than to look at these kinds of digital apprenticeships.