ACCORDING to Skills Development Scotland (SDS), 89 per cent of employers in Scotland would recommend apprenticeships within their industry, 88 per cent believe apprentices are important to business and workforce development, and 96 per cent feel that apprentices are more able to do their job.

This is proof that apprentices make an impact on the employers who hire them. Digital technology employers in Scotland must take note. We are suffering from a major digital skills gap, where demand is outstripping supply. We need up to 12,800 new entrants into digital technology professions every year if we are to bridge this skills gap.

Apprenticeships in technology can have a positive impact as they give employers access to a wider pool of talent. This is why industry support is critical. We need industry-wide recognition of the value and credibility of tech apprenticeships at all levels as a valid route into the sector.

At CompanyNet, we offer modern apprenticeship jobs to young people fresh out school, giving them the opportunity to gain work experience while earning. All we ask is for a good work ethic and a passion for digital. We shouldn’t forget the other apprenticeships on offer. For school pupils keen to get a head start in tech, foundation apprenticeships taken alongside other subjects offer an opportunity to learn the skills needed for a future career in digital.

For those wanting to work towards a degree in digital, graduate apprenticeship jobs are ideal. Tech employers with a preference for degree-level training can benefit greatly from these.

We also need tech employers to realise the breadth of apprenticeships available. Apprenticeships can be used to access a growing range of tech skills that are in high demand, including software development and cyber security. Never before has there been such a broad range available.

Aside from the opportunity to make a difference to the digital skills gap and also to a young person’s career, there are many benefits that come from hiring apprentices in digital roles. More than three-quarters of employers revealed that apprentices boosted productivity within their firms, while 71 per cent said apprentices had improved their quality of service or product.

In some cases, academic degrees alone do not equip graduates for the practical skills they need to walk into a job “work-ready”. Apprenticeships are developed for industry by industry, ensuring the curriculum meets their needs. Being equipped with the current and relevant digital skills is vital in a fast-moving sector like tech.

Apprentices can be trained from the ground up. Employers benefit from apprentices because they can train them to work the way they need them to.

Industry involvement is easier than many think. There are brilliant resources designed to provide guidance. for example. At CompanyNet we are keen to use our position as an SQA-approved modern apprentice training provider to engage with industry. We are in the process of creating a consultancy package for others who want to start their own apprenticeship programme.

SDS is heavily involved in promoting digital apprenticeship programmes and vacancies. They provide much support to employers, including access to one-on-one employer engagement advisors and the opportunity to advertise apprenticeship vacancies free online.

The bottom line is that apprenticeships give employers access to a passionate, enthusiastic tech workforce. They truly are a chance for digital employers to shape Scotland’s flourishing tech sector – and the individuals working within it – in a valuable and positive way.

Rebecca Witt
Skills Manager, CompanyNet