Apprenticeships are a sector fast on the rise. In a study taken by the UK government in 2016, it was found that over 3 million apprentice and trainee roles had been created since the start of the decade, with nearly a third of them being created in 2016 alone. As we enter a new decade, apprenticeships and trainee programmes have become a crucial pathway for young people finding their way into the working world, with the government subsidising 300000 new apprentice roles a year.
Certainly, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if 2i hadn’t enrolled me into their Graduate & Apprenticeship programme two years ago, so I may seem a little biased. However, the tech industry is the ideal sector to run apprentice and trainee programmes for a number of reasons.
The first is simple: young people understand current technology better. There’s a certain level of fear you get from hearing your Granny needs help setting up her computer, and it’s unlikely that Grandad will be able to offer any help. Keeping up with current technology trends is a vital part of working in the tech industry, and the younger generation provides a vital lifeline in helping older colleagues to understand these trends and how their role needs to adapt to suit them.
This advanced understanding could prove a lifeline for businesses to survive the economic impact of COVID too, as knowledge sharing will allow for new ideas to be blossom. For example, I and another 2i grad working on my team have implemented several process improvements on client site, which have been received warmly by 2i colleagues and client employees alike, and I know that the other grads and apprentices have become hugely valuable assets to 2i and our clients. You never know, your business’ billion-dollar idea could be sitting in the mind of a 17-year-old who just needs to be given a chance!
The sharing of new ideas brings me neatly on to my next point. Knowledge share is a key factor in any tech business. 2i puts particular emphasis on creating ‘T Shaped People’, or adaptable workers with one area of expertise. This requires a lot of knowledge sharing in order to find not only what colleagues are good at and where their skills are best suited, but also where their knowledge has gaps that are vital to be filled.
For example, I recently walked our new graduates through a few sessions of vital consultancy skills that could potentially benefit them when out on client site, and hopefully, they can help me fill out the gaping chasms of emptiness where my knowledge of coding lives. These skills can be traded back and forth across the organisation and create a company full of Swiss army knives, prepared to tackle any challenge that works throws at them.
Furthermore, bringing on young people with no prior knowledge of the industry means that no previous biases are ingrained into them. We all know what they say about dogs and tricks, and that is none more true than in the tech industry. I’m sure many of you reading this will have had a discussion with testing at some point where they’ve spoken about automated testing as some sort of job-stealing Terminator.
This is mainly due to a pre-engrained bias about what automation is and what it means for the business. Now, employing someone who’s fresh out of university or another job in another sector means they don’t come with this idea of what every stage of the business process is like and how they think it should work. This means you can easily grow them into whatever way of working is required. That combined with a fresh set of eyes and ideas should make the business benefits of apprenticeships crystal clear!
To finish, I’ve dug up a quote from former Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon, speaking in the same report I referenced earlier:
“Apprenticeships work, that’s why they lie at the heart of our commitment to giving everyone the chance they deserve to get the skills and jobs they need for their future.”
This is a statement I stand firmly behind. Apprenticeships are an excellent way to get young people on the working ladder. I was working in a bar before 2i took me on and, since joining, I’ve gained countless skills and been able to adapt my skillset into a new environment.
Effectively the point I’m trying to make here is that, in more than one way, apprenticeships make great business sense, and not only do they benefit the young people that take them on, but they can also greatly benefit the rest of your organisation as well.