Driving Innovation With Digital Apprenticeships

7 minutes

Learning and development opportunities have helped workers forge careers for generations. Only now, companies are having to use these opportunities to compete for top talent. Self-improvement is a key priority for employees. This is especially true for those looking to progress in their careers. According to Randstad, 88% of employees said they would engage in development programs. But, for this to happen, they would first need the opportunity to do so. 

Digital transformations are taking place at a rapid rate. So, it’s no surprise that employees want to focus on their professional development. After all, employees want to evolve with the times and adapt to emerging technologies. From this, it’s clear that employees have a renewed interest in development. This requires companies to adjust their approach if they are to retain top talent. And it appears this is something employers are taking note of. With 83% of companies using learning and development to build a people-centric culture. 

Learning and development is a broad topic. It’s about building the right culture, encouraging individuals to learn and grow. Learning and development programs come in various forms, one of which is apprenticeships. There were 195,600 apprenticeship starts recorded from August to January 2022/23. This is a slight drop off from the same period the year before. But, overall, apprenticeship starts have remained consistent over recent years. Even with the high start rates, some common myths about apprenticeships still exist.

The myths still surrounding apprenticeships 

Only for school leavers

Candidates are eligible for some apprenticeships at 16 years old. Yet,  candidates must be at least 18 years old for others. Due to their accessibility, school leavers often start their careers with apprenticeships. But, thinking they are only suitable for people these ages, is a mistake. 

People of all ages can do an apprenticeship. Plus, they can be taken on for a variety of reasons. For example, someone might want to change their career. But, a career change is likely to require a different set of skills. This is where apprenticeships can help.  

Apprenticeships are also used by employers to upskill their employees. This is becoming more of a popular method for businesses, prioritising employee development. In fact, Level 6 and 7 Apprenticeship starts increased by 11.1% in 2022/23. This represents 15.7% of all starts reported to date for 2022/23. Apprenticeships were once misconstrued by many. Yet, they are now seen as a viable option for people with more experience. 

No progression 

It’s often thought that apprenticeships don't provide any real opportunities to progress. But, each apprenticeship has its own levels, reflecting its difficulty. This provides more opportunities, catering to everyone, no matter their experience. 

Apprentices, like other employees, are valued members of any company. They aren’t confined to making tea and coffee. Instead, they have real responsibilities, working on real projects from day one. Apprenticeships consist of work-based learning. This suits those who enjoy a more hands-on, practical learning style. This approach allows apprentices to gain knowledge and learn new skills. 

Apprentices aren’t expected to know everything on their first day. Attainable goals will be set, laying out what’s expected from them. They receive support from their employer and supervisor. This helps them in the right direction. With this, they can track their progress through the apprenticeship, while they develop new skills. 

Only for trade occupations

The idea of apprenticeships started centuries ago. They were common in certain trades, which required practical skills. But, over time, as apprenticeship takeup declined, a new scheme began in 1993. The intention was to make apprenticeships a viable career option, boosting work-based training. 

Now, though, modern apprenticeships have been going on for 30 years. And they have increased in popularity along the way. Yet, some people still hold outdated views of them. One myth is that apprenticeships are only suitable for those pursuing trade occupations. Perhaps, because of their original purpose, or a lack of knowledge surrounding apprenticeships. 

Although there once would have been weight to this belief, times have since moved on. As new industries grow and thrive, new job career paths open up. Apprenticeships cater to these developments. New apprenticeships open up to reflect trends and the demands that come with them. Whether in digital, IT or software, apprenticeships helps people with their career development.

How apprenticeships help organisations progress in the digital world

Investing in a digital future is essential for continued business growth. But, what exactly does a digital future look like? Well, it’s driven by constant technological progress. New innovations will continue to shape society, influencing the way businesses work. From this, it appears the future might be one which surrounds the digital world. And while there is some truth to this, humans will remain at the heart of organisations. 

Any company with a big budget can install top-of-the-range technology. But, without the right people, companies won’t be able to make the most of the technology. And to make a real impact, people need the right skills. Otherwise, there’s little use in implementing the latest tech. 

So, not only is it key to hire the best talent, it’s important to invest in their skills. Whether it's technical skills like writing code or knowing how to work new operating systems. Yet, there are certain skills that humans have, that machinery can't replicate. This includes interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and critical thinking. These skills allow employees to find creative solutions, helping businesses achieve their goals. 

Digital apprenticeships provide organisations with a route of progression in the digital world. There are varying apprenticeship levels. So, apprenticeships can be of use throughout the hierarchy, improving the workforce. Whether developing emerging talent or upskilling current employees. But, what exact key areas can digital apprenticeships help organisations with? 

Digital Skills 

It’s no secret that technology is developing at a rapid rate. In theory, this should be positive for businesses, as they have more tools to work with. And while there is the potential for performance to improve, this isn’t guaranteed. After all, companies need to have the right skills in place. Those who don’t prioritise this, risk widening their digital skills gap. In fact, 60% of employers are expecting their reliance on digital skills to grow in the future. So, it seems, most companies are aware of how important digital skills are going to be. 

Yet, it’s not only the employers focusing on digital skills. 58% of workers say they haven't received digital skills training from their employers. Most knowledge workers feel the negative effects of the digital skills gap. But, not investing in employees’ skills can leave them feeling undervalued. This can lead them to look elsewhere for training opportunities. Or even worse, employees can resign, seeking development opportunities with another company.

Apprenticeships can act as a solution to providing employees with digital skills. Also, 75% of apprentices stay with the company where they did their apprenticeship. This means employers can future-proof their business while supporting economic growth. 


Data is becoming more important in business. It allows companies to forecast, plan and track performance. In turn, this can help to better understand and improve business processes. Along with an insight into consumer habits, data allows companies to see what works and what doesn’t. 

Companies keep a keen focus on data. This helps them create the best possible products and services. The real-time nature of data influences a company’s strategy and decision-making process. And, due to its importance, there is a high demand for data experts across all sectors. But, specifically, in the tech industry, data analysis was the most in-demand skill in 2022. 

Of course, like with any in-demand skill, there’s fierce competition for top talent. Only, this has led to salaries rising. This tends to favour more established companies, with bigger budgets. The difference in funding allows top companies to recruit the most experienced talent. This puts smaller companies, with less funding, in a difficult position. It's clear that they can’t compete financially. Yet, doing nothing only widens their skills gap. So, another solution and one which is more long-term is to develop emerging talent. 

Apprenticeships are one way of doing this. Whether a company is looking for a Data Analyst or a Data Technician. There are plenty of data apprenticeships for companies to make the most of. This route is more cost-effective. And with this approach, a company’s emerging talent is more likely to realise their potential. 


Software is a set of instructions, data or programs. It's used to complete tasks and operate computers. Having the right software in place benefits businesses in various ways. It automates time-consuming, manual tasks, leading to improved business processes. This allows a company’s employees to work more efficiently. They can spend more time making important strategic decisions, driving the business forward. As a result, the business will reduce its costs, and increase its revenue.   

Software development improves business processes using IT. It carries the ability to make businesses more efficient. Because of this, software development is only going to increase in importance. As a result, there's expected to be an increasing demand for Software Developers. In fact, the Uk’s software development industry had an average annual increase of 5.3% from 2018 to 2023. The progress isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. Instead, there's expected to be a similar level of growth over the next five years.

But, with such quick growth, there is a lack of skills. And with this, comes a rising average salary for the best Software Developers. Of course, once again, this benefits those companies with the biggest budgets. Yet, with software development apprenticeships, businesses can access loyal and cost-effective local talent. This makes it a viable option for companies looking to expand and boost their position in the market. 

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is yet another example of rapidly developing technology. It’s not yet clear the extent to which AI will impact the workplace in the future. But, with the use of AI, organisations can become more efficient. Automation will lead to more routine tasks being taken care of. Of course, this leads to people fearing job loss. But, working alongside AI, allows employees to focus on complex activities. In turn, the added responsibility leads to a happier, more engaged workforce.  

The implementation of AI can allow organisations to be more productive. Yet, humans will still have a pivotal role to play for organisations. To get the best results, people need to know how to communicate with AI. After all, humans are still needed to oversee the process. While also carrying out the creative and managerial elements within the organisation. 

It’s estimated that automation will result in the creation of more, higher-level jobs. Organisations will need specialist individuals capable of making the most of AI. So, that means, there’s a bright future for those with the right skills. And as time goes on, apprenticeships will allow organisations to make the most of what AI has to offer.

Why apprenticeships?

Technology is developing far quicker than companies can account for. The digital skills gap can have a damming impact on organisations. Companies will have access to tools they don’t have the skills for. As a result, productivity and performance aren’t where they should be. And because of this, companies fail to reach their goals. 

The skills gap doesn’t only concern one specific area. But, rather, it’s a theme that's present across all emerging digital roles. The lack of skills leads to companies bidding for top talent. This is a permissible recruitment method for big companies. But, it’s not sustainable for smaller companies. Instead, these companies need a long-term solution. And this is where companies can make use of digital apprenticeships. 

Digital apprenticeships are a cost-effective way for companies to gain digital skills. Whether it's software, data, or related to AI. Apprenticeships allow companies to build a skilled workforce for the future. Also, apprentices are more likely to stay with their employers. This makes them a worthwhile investment. As a result, apprentices provide value long after they finish their courses. This helps companies continue to drive innovation and progress in the digital world. 

Pareto as a digital apprenticeship provider

Are you interested in finding out more about digital apprenticeships? Well, Pareto can help. We have our very own line of digital apprenticeships. And with this, we help companies progress in the digital world. You might be asking, what’s so good about Pareto’s apprenticeships? We have over 25 years of experience in hiring the best talent for businesses. We assess, place and train people with high potential, placing them with the right company.

We have a keen focus on providing top-of-the-range learning and development opportunities. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed. Towards the end of 2022, we received our first full Ofsted inspection. The inspectors recognised our hard work and attention to detail. From this, we earnt a ‘Good’ Ofsted result. 

And now, with the opening of our digital apprenticeships, we apply this same expertise. We do it all with the aim of matching top talent with industry-leading businesses. Our digital apprenticeships cover various topic areas including data, software and IT. Head over to our website for more information on our specific digital apprenticeships.

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