BCS has seen rapid growth in the number of end-point-assessments it delivers. The first person to be awarded the final sign off for their apprenticeship through BCS was in 2017. By 2019 that figure was 1000 and this year it rose to 10,000.
Once they’ve worked with an employer to gain on-the-job experience and have received a structured programme of off-the-job learning, all apprentices must prove their competence through an independent end-point-assessment.
Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS said: ‘Digital apprenticeships are a desirable career pathway, particularly with the increasing demand amongst employers in all sectors for digital talent. For many during the pandemic this has been a good choice because, by their very nature, much of the work and studying can be done online.
‘At this time, considering the impact of the economy on jobs, a digital career path is promising because of the wide skills gap that needs to be filled by properly trained and qualified people.’
Backing apprenticeships all the way
BCS sponsors the SME Employer of the Year category at the National Apprenticeship Awards. Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS said: ‘Technology has played a central part in keeping businesses going during the pandemic. Digital skills, delivered and assessed through high-quality apprenticeships, can help organisations and their employees operate securely and ethically during periods of rapid technological change.’
The firm that came top in the SME category last autumn was the national building services engineering partnership Troup Bywaters + Anders. It employs a digital marketer apprentice and is committed to apprenticeships in general as a means of training its workforce. Claire Oliver, Head of HR said that digital skills are important for their staff: ‘In terms of remote working, designing and collaborating in this new way of working during the pandemic, digital skills have been key.’
Claire added: ‘We currently support 50 apprentices - which is about 22% of our overall workforce. We've got a really high retention rate of around 90%. For TB+A it’s about selecting the right people and creating an attractive career path.
‘There are some companies that don’t invest in the training, who try to tempt trainees with higher salaries - which they can afford as they don’t invest in people. So, that’s our challenge. And to prevent that attrition, we create an attractive culture where people want to stay, not just for their training but for years to come.’
Nurturing the workforce of the future
There were two highly commended organisations in the SME category at the National Apprenticeship Awards. Snow Camp is a charity, based in Hove, which provides disadvantaged young people with the chance to experience skiing and snowboarding combined with a life-skills course. The other was the Birmingham based Crimson Limited, an IT solutions and recruitment firm.
Cat Halstead, Head of Change & People Development at Crimson, was appointed in 2019 to set up the degree apprenticeship programme and to build the future talent pipeline across the solutions business. She said: ‘We recognise raw talent, nurture our apprentices and give them the room to grow in a direction that feels right for them and us. We want their personalities and their uniqueness to remain intact.
‘For aspiring apprentices - if you're thinking ‘I can't - just put a ‘yet’ at the end. I can't ‘yet’. So simple and yet so powerful as it opens you up to possibilities. Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers. They are for anyone who wants to make a change and start a new career.
‘Our MD and Founder, Rob Mallaband, was once an apprentice himself. One of the first things he said to me was, ‘if you see a way you can add value don't wait to be asked, just do it’. This is such a lovely environment in which to learn and to grow.’
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, working with companies across higher education, home builders, housing associations, and local authorities, Crimson offers opportunities for enthusiastic apprenticeship candidates from every background.
Life-changing career choice
The range of digital apprenticeships is wide and BCS offers 19 different types of Level 3 and 4 standards, from Level 3 Digital Marketer through to Level 4 Cyber Security or Software Technician.
Apprenticeships offer an alternative to a more academic course, a chance to work, learn and get paid while studying. Watch our video to find out more about the experiences of digital apprentices and why they picked this route, with some saying it offered them ‘life-changing’ opportunities.
Speaking at the recent BCS Virtual Festival of Digital Skills, Gillian Keegan, the Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said: ‘We recognised that technical education was going to be the rocket fuel we needed to propel our economy, even before COVID-19.
‘We need to open up, celebrate and champion technical education. This pandemic has accelerated the need for our technical education system to create a pipeline of skilled productive workers who can support the future needs of the economy.’
With the challenges that everyone has faced over the past year, BCS is proud to celebrate the achievements of the 10,000 apprentices that it has assessed, and the spectacular effort of training providers and employers to support apprentices during this time.