3 March 2014

Today is the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which is intended to encourage more businesses to introduce apprenticeship schemes and to show young people that they don’t have to go to university. I remember giving a talk to a group of young people years ago and being shocked that so many of them felt like that was the only option. There are alternative routes to a career.

In the technology and digital industries in particular, apprenticeships are vital as there’s a shortage of young people with the right skills – skills that are up to date. Personally, I think this is because schools have been lagging behind when it comes to the IT curriculum. You’ve only got to look at the companies crying out for bright, skilled Linux engineers to see this.

Yet, whilst this is disappointing, it’s not just the educational establishments who have to step up and fix it. It’s up to businesses to start investing in young people and apprenticeships are a good way to start. We’ve been lucky really to have Aaron as our director of training and education to introduce our apprenticeship scheme. He’s been great at getting our apprentices through their training and examinations, although this is a man who can run the 10k dressed like Mr. Motivator in under 40 minutes so I’m hardly surprised!

Businesses need to start taking apprenticeships seriously if they want to have a positive impact, not just on the young people they take on but on their own business and the future of the UK economy. And by seriously, I mean not paying the lowest possible wage they can get away with. Everybody in your company needs to feel valued, not just full time employees. For any real, long lasting impact to be made, it’s got to be a real investment, not just a token act going through the motions.

I wonder how many people who have been to university would still have chosen that path if there had have been an apprenticeship scheme available in their chosen industry. What do you think?

Director of Training Aaron Saxton: the real Mr. Motivator!

Director of Training Aaron Saxton: the real Mr. Motivator!

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