Ruth South, Head of Graduate and Apprenticeship Programmes at Capgemini
For an HR Manager, inevitably there will be some key challenges they continue to face; the need to attract and retain talent, grow skills for the future, build skills internally or create a more evenly distributed talent pyramid.
Since 2004 we recognised that hiring apprentices into the organisation would help us to meet our businesses objectives and to grow the skills crucial for ourselves, our clients and the digital economy. In 2011, we launched our first Degree Apprenticeship which has developed over the years; we now have 250 apprentices studying for their degree and 370 overall on an apprenticeship with us, making up 5% of our UK workforce. In the early stages we could not have envisaged how this investment would transform our way of thinking, and the lives of those we hired.
Taking a step back, youth unemployment in the UK is a well reported issue, as is the ever-increasing skills gap, particularly in the technology sector. It has come to the point where the industry itself needs to grow the skills needed to keep up with the pace of change. Apprenticeships enable employers to grow their own talent and create opportunities for individuals from a range of backgrounds so that they have an alternative route into a career of their choosing.
University is not right for everyone. By offering Degree Apprenticeships businesses are able to attract individuals who actively choose not to go to university because they felt a more hands on model would be a better fit for them, or where affordability prevented them from doing so. It also provides an opportunity for those who want to change career and reskill in a new area, wanting to gain a degree qualification with the real-life work experience and without the debt. Whichever the route, the individual approaches this opportunity with a huge amount of loyalty and determination, as delivering a full time job in addition to studying for a degree is a big commitment.
Frustratingly, there are still misperceptions that exist about apprenticeships. For organisations such as ourselves who have invested in this area for some time and seen the results that blending academic and on the job learning has, the inaccuracy of these perceptions are ones that we are all keen to correct.
Having recently become the first employer to have Degree Apprentices graduate in partnership with Aston University, we have seen outstanding results, clearly showing that apprenticeships are not a second class option to attending university full time. 100% of our cohort passed with a 2nd class degree or above, and 64% achieved a 1st class degree, which is more than double the Aston-on-campus average.
The benefits to our recent graduates are clear: they are 6 years into their professional career with a wealth of work experience, have achieved a BSc in Digital & Technology Solutions, a salary that exceeds that of a graduate and no student debt.
From an organisational perspective, we and our clients have benefited from our apprentices’ insights, perspectives and skillset, and we have grown the future leaders of our organisation. We have trailblazed with government to make Degree Apprenticeships the success they are to date and have supported the ambition to make the UK the number one digital economy.
With the apprenticeship levy now in place, businesses have a perfect opportunity to review their upcoming workforce plans, review their talent strategies and invest in apprenticeships. Providing a route into a career for an individual at any stage of their life, seeing the level of results and achievements gained by them, and also the difference they make to business, should make this an investment that all employers want to make.
If you are looking to search for an apprenticeship, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship