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12 June 2019

The digital skills gap is a growing issue for an increasing amount of businesses around the UK. As every company is becoming, at least in some part, a tech company, the demand for technical skills is growing at a rate that outpaces supply.

Such is the size of the IT skills gap that the UK needs 134,000 new technology specialists every year, according to Tech Partnership research. Your business might be coping with the capability crisis right now, but the fight for talent is set to intensify as the demand for skilled workers, particularly those with data and digital specialisms, rises exponentially.

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in April 2017 to help bring 3 million new apprentices into the workforce by 2020 but many employees are unaware of how this funding can be used to benefit their organisation.

This service pays for training and assessment of apprentices, but it should be noted that funds expire 24 months after entering the digital account, so there is no time to waste. Your task now is to help your organisation take control of the funds and to deliver a training programme through the right provider.

The task is urgent. Businesses that fail to respond quickly are potentially losing thousands of pounds, both in terms of funding for apprenticeships and through the loss of a competitive advantage from an injection of new skills. Apprentices can also be existing employees who you are giving digital skills to, to ready them for the future of work. Organisations who can identify capability gaps can start to focus on areas of digital capability that will give your business a performance boost.

"Organisations must understand what digital looks like, how such capability can be developed, and how individuals can be attracted and retained. Honing digital talent is also about more than acquiring new people for specific jobs. You must help your organisation nurture talent and to develop digital skills in existing roles."

Kate Temple-Brown, Client Director at Gradvert

The Apprenticeship Levy provides a mechanism to help upskill your workforce. While apprenticeships are often associated with younger employees, the Apprenticeship Levy can be used to train all employees, filling skills gaps and boosting capability across a diverse range of employees and areas.

The right programme will help your business to analyse and understand the skills gaps that currently exist, and to then think about how an apprenticeship could be used to fill those capability holes. A trusted digital competency framework will provide your organisation with a globally accepted standard for the skills and competencies required in the digital world.

You will then need to identify which specific technical skills - such as software developer, date analyst and cybersecurity technologist - will match those capability requirements. By working with trusted training providers or by running an internal development programme, your organisation can use these standards to make full use of the Apprenticeship Levy. Affirmative action now will help your business to create a highly-skilled digital workforce that is fit for the fast-changing digital world.

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