Now is the time for employers to support local recovery by investing in young talent, says Phil Howard.
In times of economic difficulty, it’s often young people who are hit the hardest, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only heightened this generational divide.
With many businesses needing to upskill their teams as they continue to work remotely, the benefits of digital apprenticeships to local recovery are numerous – and can help both young people and employers to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
Closing the skills gap
With growing uncertainty around the future of many businesses, employers generally aren’t putting the same level of investment into training as they were previously. However, to help the local economy recover, it’s important that businesses invest in young people now and work together to close the widening skills gap.
Although digital transformation was already accelerating before the pandemic, the coronavirus crisis and consequent shift to widespread homeworking has only enhanced this.
In fact, Microsoft has estimated that two years’ worth of digital transformation will occur in only two months due to the pandemic and 149m new technology-oriented jobs will be created globally over the next five years.
As a result, keeping on top of the latest developments in technology is no longer just nice for businesses to do – it is instead essential to their survival.
By investing in real world skills training now, businesses will be better placed to keep up with the rate of change while providing important opportunities for local people to gain valuable skills. Employers should be considering all of their options, including apprenticeships and on-the-job training, to help them continue to thrive.
Microsoft has estimated that two years’ worth of digital transformation will occur in only two months due to the pandemic
With digital transformation showing no signs of slowing down, if we don’t address the existing skills gap urgently, this is a problem that is only going to get worse.
Supporting local recovery
By choosing to take on an apprentice, you can make an immediate difference to the life of a young person in your local area, giving them the opportunity to succeed in an increasingly volatile job market.
The combination of instructor-led learning and practical experience provides these young people with the head start they need to build a long-lasting career, and also helps to support local recovery.
With the rising cost of universities, young people are increasingly looking for alternative routes into the workplace and for this reason apprenticeship schemes are particularly appealing, giving young people the opportunity to earn while they learn and get qualified without debt.
In addition, gaining on-the-job experience while they study helps them to stay on top of the latest developments in their field and excel in their chosen specialism.
Invest for success
By investing in young people now, employers can strengthen their workforce and introduce new skills to their existing team.
Offering apprenticeships allows you to make use of the local talent pipeline and gives you access to a whole new stream of talent that you might not come into contact with otherwise.
Taking on an apprentice is also a great way to onboard young talent as you can get them trained in your way of working quickly as opposed to having to retrain someone who is used to doing things a certain way.
Because apprentices are studying while undertaking the job, they are learning about the latest systems, technologies and best practices in the moment, and are therefore able to instantly apply these in their workplace. This not only means that their quality of work is better because they’ve been trained from scratch, but also that they are more invested in the business.
Many apprentices also choose to stay local to the area where they carry out their placement, and when employers choose to take on an apprentice they are investing in an individual who is more likely to stick around, work within your business and continue contributing to the local economy long after their training has ended.
The time is now
With much uncertainty around what a post-pandemic world might look like, there has never been a better time for employers to futureproof their business by investing in their people.
Whether you choose to upskill your existing employees with further training or introduce fresh talent, by choosing a reputable provider and doing things properly, you can guarantee a long-term return on your investment.
Should you choose to go down the apprenticeship route, there is additional financial assistance available and (in response to the coronavirus crisis) the government has recently introduced incentive payments that employers can apply for if they take on a new apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021.
As part of this, employers will receive £2,000 for apprentices aged 16 to 24 and £1,500 for apprentices aged 25 and over, and this payment is in addition to the existing £1,000 you’ll already get for taking on an apprentice who is aged 16 to 18 years old.
This makes hiring an apprentice one of the most attractive and cost-effective options for businesses looking to strengthen their existing skillset and support the local economy.
While for most of us the future seems increasingly uncertain, one thing we can say with certainty is that more change is round the corner, and that young people will bear the brunt of this when it comes to career opportunities.
By investing in young people now, businesses can arm themselves with the skills they need to bounce back from the challenges caused by coronavirus and thrive in the long term, while simultaneously supporting local talent at this difficult time, and helping young people to embark on rewarding and fulfilling careers.
About the author
Phil Howard is commercial director at Intequal.