6 tips on starting apprenticeships

Interest in the ancient institution of apprenticeships is rising steeply in the UK today across many sectors and professions, not least IT. It's a development reinvigorated by recent government announcements and one which I strongly welcome, and which is surely important to most CIOs.

References to apprentices in English history date back to the 12th century, and 200 years later, in The Cook's Tale, Chaucer describes an apprentice who "could dance so merrily and well that he was called Perkin the Reveller. He was as full of love and the game of love as the hive of sweet honey; happy was the girl that happened to meet him"(!)

Those may not be the precise qualities many employers seek in young talent today, but there are sound and serious reasons why apprenticeships, long neglected, are now taking centre stage in the burning issue of finding young talent.

Recruiters are becoming aware that not all roles need to be filled by graduates. So they are once again looking carefully at school leavers who, for various reasons, choose not to apply for university.

And, as the experience of most employers shows, supply is increasing to meet demand. There are many bright 16-18 year olds whose preferences or circumstances propel them towards the workplace rather than university. With all the changes in education and funding, more young people are interested in alternatives enabling them to earn while they learn.

It's easy to see why IT apprenticeships are important at national level. The UK today is fundamentally a service economy, and one that competes in global markets.

IT is a core part of that economy, and if the country is not to become a technological backwater, we will need a well trained and well educated IT workforce. And that surely means putting all the talent we have as a nation to best use.

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