National Apprenticeship Week is a key opportunity to showcase the benefits that apprenticeships offer individuals, employers and the UK economy. The Prime Minister’s target of 3 million apprentices by 2020 and the Apprenticeship Levy has continued to heighten the awareness of this agenda and, as a result, employers, schools, students and parents now more than ever want to understand, why choose an apprenticeship?
At Capgemini, we have long been committed to nurturing our talent pipeline and apprenticeships have been firmly on our agenda since 2011, when we began investing in our programmes. We are very proud to have 354 apprentices working with us, across our UK business and in 2016 we are continuing to grow our apprentice community with 100 opportunities available across the UK with several intakes throughout the year.
Over the past 5 years, our apprenticeship offering has developed and diversified, to be agile and proactive to the changing technology industry, and our businesses needs. Whilst our programmes have changed, our agenda and driving force behind our commitment has very much remained the same, which is that we believe apprenticeships provide us with the opportunity to grow our own experts and leaders of the future.
As an employer who has experienced the benefits of offering apprenticeship opportunities, we are passionate about changing the perception of apprenticeships from the traditional views that exist and we champion diversity within the technology sector, particularly from a female perspective.
Our collaboration with Aston University has been crucial to developing the standard of apprenticeship offering that we have today. The partnership we have built has enabled us to work together to develop new and exciting opportunities in the apprenticeship area and has ensured that the finished product fits our businesses needs. Most recently our focus has been on the progression routes for apprentices beyond the Higher Apprenticeship level and in September 2015 we launched the first Degree Apprenticeship in the UK.
Our Degree Apprenticeship programme enables individuals to build both the academic and practical skills necessary for success in the tech sector, while also helping to create the talent needed to boost the UK’s digital economy.
By starting university studies from day one of their apprenticeship, whilst working for us at the same time, it enables our apprentices to learn the academics behind the role and then put them into practice in a real life scenario. It is a fantastic opportunity for our apprentices to earn, learn, develop themselves and make a difference to our clients.
The four and a half year BSc (Honours) in Digital & Technology Solutions begins with 8 weeks of intensive learning at Aston University. This training provides our apprentices with all they need to know to hit the ground running. From day one of week 9 they are out working for Capgemini, often on client site, using and building on the skills they have learned and working alongside experienced professionals.
Our collaboration with Aston doesn’t stop here; we are now working to broaden our Degree Apprenticeship programme in areas including cyber-security, finance and business. We are also working on the concept of a Level 7 Apprenticeship, the Masters equivalent, which will provide an additional layer of opportunities to our apprentices – proving the sky’s the limit!
Throughout National Apprenticeship Week, I have attended a number of events with our apprentices and their confidence, attitude and outlook have been both impressive and humbling. The benefits that they see that an apprenticeship offers are clear; gaining a degree without debt, the salary they receive and the opportunities within Capgemini that they have access to.
They are also deeply passionate about changing some of the perceptions of apprenticeships that exist and openly talk about how they overcame this very challenge with their parents, friends and family. Their experiences drive them to work with us to change the views that exist as they have experienced all that an apprenticeship has to offer and are key to delivering this message to others.
From Capgemini’s perspective, we have gained clear business benefits from our apprentices as they bring fresh ideas, new skills, innovation, enthusiasm and diversity to our ways of thinking. By investing in apprenticeships, we have provided new opportunities and also contributed to addressing the digital skills shortage within the UK. Apprenticeships are definitely not to be discounted when making career choices and when setting the overall talent strategy.