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Digital apprenticeships growing at more than double the UK average

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More than 17,000 people started digital / tech apprenticeships in the UK in 2014/15, according to the Tech Partnership’s recently released data analysis. This represents growth of 21 percent over the previous year, significantly outperforming the 10 percent growth of apprenticeships as a whole.

Around 30,000 people are now on digital / tech apprenticeships – 3.1 percent of all apprentices. Current and former apprentices represent an important part of the digital workforce: almost 1 in 10 of those now in tech specialist roles have completed or are undertaking an apprenticeship. The Tech Partnership’s new Digital Apprentices Fact Sheet analyses information from the ONS Labour Force Survey, alongside statistics from each of the four nations’ governments.  It paints a nuanced picture of a fast-changing environment, and provides a baseline against which to measure the effect of the forthcoming apprenticeship levy.

Looking at the characteristics of digital apprentices, the data shows that they are likely to be younger than the average apprentice: nearly three quarters (74 percent) of 2014 / 15 starters were aged 24 or younger, compared with 59 percent of apprentices overall. Digital apprenticeships tend to be at a higher level too: 71 percent of starts in this period were at Level 3 or higher (equivalent to A level or similar qualifications), compared with only 42 percent of apprenticeships as a whole. Three quarters of digital apprenticeships are in digital / tech specialist roles – in other words, specialist positions that involve creating, implementing or managing technology systems. The remainder are in IT user roles, which focus on the application of these systems in other jobs.

Apprenticeships as a whole have a good record in attracting women: according to the latest available data, from 2013 / 14, more than half (52 percent) of new apprentices were female. However, the gender imbalance seen throughout the digital / tech sector persists in apprenticeships, with only 11 percent of digital / tech specialist apprentices being female. “Apprenticeships are an important route into the digital professions, and likely to become more so with the advent of the apprenticeship levy,” says Anouska Ramsay, Talent Director of Capgemini UK. “Through the Tech Partnership, employers have been working collectively to ensure that apprenticeship standards reflect our needs and will lead to productive and rewarding careers for new entrants. We must now redouble our efforts to ensure that women are attracted to roles in our fast growing sector.”

“The growth in numbers shows that both employers and potential apprentices recognise the benefits of digital apprenticeships,” reflects Karen Price, CEO on behalf of the Tech Partnership. “An increasingly wide range of digital occupations are now covered by the new employer-developed Trailblazer standards, and the industry accreditation of training programmes promoted by the Tech Partnership makes it easier than ever for employers to offer high quality apprenticeships with confidence”.

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