Digital apprenticeships must focus on quality

At a recent event at the House of Commons, Microsoft presented research on the impact of its apprenticeship programme. The study, which was comprised of interviews and online surveys, found that as well as providing valuable skills and experience to those enrolled in apprenticeships there were also substantial benefits for businesses, too.

Microsoft’s apprenticeships teach youngsters digital skills such as coding, cloud computing and IT, and are delivered via partners such as QA, Intequal and Firebrand, as well as customers. According to Microsoft’s research, apprentices see their programme as a way to learn new skills and drive social mobility with 42 per cent coming from lower social class backgrounds.

Hugh Milward, director of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs at Microsoft UK, said that as the popularity of digital apprenticeships continued to grow, it was important they gave young people valuable skills they could use. “Digital apprenticeships buck the general trend that has seen a drop in starts. The Government’s October 2018 figures show that apprenticeship starts were 15 per cent lower than the corresponding period in 2016. These same figures, though, showed digital apprenticeships increasing by 21 per cent. However, it is crucial that we are not drawn into a numbers game. Digital apprenticeships provide highly relevant skills in a digital world that benefit both the apprentice and the employer. The emphasis must be on quality over quantity.”

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds agreed, adding that apprenticeships were a great way for the UK to build a skilled workforce for the future. “The great work that Microsoft have [sic] been doing shows how we’ve transformed apprenticeships in this country, working hand in hand with businesses to create high-quality apprenticeship opportunities so that more young people can get a good job and progress in their careers. Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to get the skilled workforce they need and help us build the workforce the country needs for the future.”

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