Technology and the Future of Modern Apprenticeships

4 Minutes

Explore the impact of future technologies on apprenticeships. Learn about evolving training methods and standards for professional development in this guide.

From unrecognisable, interconnected smart cities to almost fully-autonomous electric cars, everywhere we look reminds us: we’re already living in the future. As the world becomes more technologically advanced, businesses have to adapt and deliver change too. Given the fast-paced nature of technology, companies need first-rate talent working behind the scenes to keep up with the seismic shifts in how we work. That means more learning and development to stay at the cutting edge of your industry—something that modern apprenticeships are helping to offer.

A 2022 study conducted by AND Digital notes that 27% of employees lack the skills and expertise necessary to succeed in their current roles. As a result, it’s crucial that business leaders understand the impact that professional and graduate apprenticeships can have in preparing employees for the jobs they’ll be doing, particularly as automation and artificial intelligence continue to upend the world of work.

This article explores how future business challenges and demands will shape modern apprenticeships. We’ll also discuss the importance of soft skills, highlighting how even IT apprenticeships can help candidates to gain the valuable ability to communicate clearly with internal and external stakeholders. Finally, our guide to the future of apprenticeships will close out by looking at how training providers have adapted to change, and how new apprenticeship standards are being developed and implemented to ensure professional development is guaranteed.

How Future Business Demands Will Shape Modern Apprenticeships

New challenges are constantly materialising as we expand our businesses further into emerging sectors, creating a demand for specialists equipped with the commercial focus and technical aptitude necessary for the modern workplace. Companies that fail to invest in learning and development opportunities for their staff risk seeing themselves overtaken by their more agile, adaptable competitors. 

As a result, modern apprenticeships are being developed to respond to these demands, with the aim being to keep your team up to date with all the latest industry changes and revolutionary technologies. Recent government reforms, such as the Apprenticeship Levy, have made these professional and graduate apprenticeships a much more accessible training resource, rather than a vocational route reserved for school leavers. 

But what are these changes coming to organisations across the globe, and why is it vital that business leaders look towards training and modern apprenticeships to address them? 

1. Automation

From online customer service chatbots to low or no-code software solutions, automation is revolutionising the way we work. As our roles see us collaborate more often with artificially intelligent technologies, we’ll need colleagues prepared for automation. 

Whether this is knowing how to correctly prompt a large language model (LLM), or understanding how to improve speed and efficiency through using an AI pair programming tool such as GitHub Copilot, it’s vital that businesses begin to leverage these technologies to enhance profitability and drive productivity. 

2. Predictive Analytics 

With the wealth of data generated by new and existing customers and prospects, businesses are quickly coming to understand the power of predictive analytics. By spotting trends in large data sets, organisations are increasingly able to statistically model the behaviour of leads and identify those with a higher likelihood of converting. 

From pricing optimisation to knowing whether customers are at risk of discontinuing their relationship with a business, predictive analytics will be at the forefront of forecasting sales success—which means that candidates need to be prepared to parse, analyse, and gain insights from data.

3. Cybersecurity

The average cost of a cybersecurity breach for SMEs increased by 10% over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business leaders across the globe are quickly becoming aware of the impact that ransomware, phishing, and data breaches can have on not only their bottom line, but their reputation too. 

As a result, organisations are looking for the cybersecurity staff they need to stay protected. Unfortunately for business leaders, these roles are some of the most difficult to hire for, with 3.4 million vacancies worldwide in cybersecurity going unfilled in 2023. Businesses are now looking to reskill their existing teams to address this digital skills gap. 

4. Hybrid and Remote Work

The shift towards geographically-distributed models of work has meant that employees across all industries increasingly need to understand how to navigate a new world of communication and collaboration technologies, from Slack and Teams to Canva and Google Docs. 

Businesses that fail to prepare their staff—from entry-level to management—for the realities of hybrid and remote work will find themselves falling behind competitors when it comes to attracting talent, particularly given that many candidates list flexible working models as one of their primary reasons for choosing an employer in 2023. Indeed, Deloitte’s 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey has shown that 32% of the former demographic and 39% of the latter work for their current organisations due to the good work-life balance they offer.

5. Social Selling

Whilst the need to develop robust and resilient relationships during the sales process hasn’t changed, the way salespeople build and maintain those relationships in 2023 certainly has. Companies are increasingly leveraging social media and platforms such as LinkedIn to empower their sales activities, gain insights into consumer behaviour, and recognise pain points. 

Alongside this, the latest customer relationship management (CRM) technologies typically integrate with brands’ social media channels, enabling sales teams to record, analyse, and report on the impact of social media interactions. Businesses that want to take advantage of a holistic view of their customers need to make sure that they’re giving their teams the skills they need to succeed. 

As businesses look to the future of technology, apprenticeships have responded in kind. Since 2010, the number of science, maths, and IT apprenticeships has increased by 25%, indicating the demand for well-trained, tech-savvy professionals. 

Graduate apprenticeships are also helping to prepare university leavers for their roles, offering higher levels of qualification. More people are turning to these apprenticeships to upskill and progress their careers in their chosen fields, whilst businesses are beginning to take advantage of the various forms of support on offer, such as the UK government’s pledge to cover 95% of apprenticeship costs, to partner with training providers and develop bespoke programmes tailored to their urgent needs.

The Importance of Soft Skills

Whilst businesses are moving towards technology and automation to enhance profitability and productivity, aptitudes for communication, negotiation, and relationship-building will remain an essential function of many roles. Whether you employ salespeople or software programmers—or, indeed, both—it’s vital that you give your staff the skills they need to share their commercial and product development ideas with colleagues and customers. 

Meanwhile, other non-technical skills are becoming increasingly valuable within the workplace. With more companies offering unique products and services than ever before, it’s important that your organisation is prepared to innovate and solve the complex problems of its customers.

Many professional-level and graduate apprenticeships offer additional modules in critical thinking, business sense, and problem-solving, meaning that employees come to their duties with the soft skills needed to drive profitability, even if they’re in a technical or non-customer-facing role.

This is why the opportunities for learning, development, and training offered by modern apprenticeships are so valuable. Even in IT apprenticeships, your employees will spend time focusing not only on key technical skills, but also on understanding how to manage customer expectations, resolve user queries, and give meaningful updates on faults and outages, ensuring that apprentices come equipped to even the most technical role with the soft skills they need for long-term success.

If you’re looking to learn more about the impact that professional, well-delivered, modern apprenticeships can have on enhancing the skills of your team, see our guide on how to prepare your team and business for apprenticeships to get the most out of a bespoke, tailored programme of study.

Adapting to Change: The Future of Apprenticeship Standards

As a result of the revolutionary technologies that have emerged and transformed the workplace, the providers of modern apprenticeships have looked to adapt their offerings to ensure that they continue to provide value—and can train professionals at all levels of seniority, from early-career graduates to senior staff looking to enter into operations directorship

Apprenticeship standards—in short, what apprentices will be doing in their roles once they complete their programmes—are now being designed to ensure that businesses can respond to the challenges we mentioned in the first section of this article, from automation to remote and hybrid working.

Developed by groups of organisations which the UK government refers to as “trailblazers,” these new apprenticeship standards, such as the ones being offered by Pareto in Team LeadershipTechnical Sales, and Network Engineering, are preparing candidates for specific job roles that are likely to evolve massively over the coming decade. 

As a result of these new apprenticeship standards, professional learning and development have been reinvented in recent years. From sales and management training to IT apprenticeships, these services have been reimagined: from being a trades-focused alternative to university to offering an alternative career route with greater breadth and depth in terms of the subjects covered and the level of qualification attained upon completion. 

At the same time, modern apprenticeships are increasingly being offered in a way that works for companies and their teams—with theoretical learning being delivered virtually, in bite-size lessons which staff can study alongside and access repeatedly in their own time. 

Alongside changes to apprenticeship standards which are seeing them becoming more focused on the specific roles that the workplace of the future will require, employers are becoming much more open to the fact that apprenticeships aren’t only for early-career or unskilled employees any more. The Apprenticeship Levy and additional government support have meant that employers recognise that you can now opt for apprenticeship training at any age, giving more experienced employees the opportunity to reskill and earn valuable qualifications.

As businesses face the challenges of the rapidly-evolving technological landscape, modern apprenticeships are becoming a crucial solution to stay ahead. The demand for professionals with up-to-date skills and expertise is increasing, and mid-career and graduate apprenticeships offer a pathway to address this need. 

By embracing apprenticeships, business leaders are able to equip their new starters and existing employees with the necessary knowledge and capabilities to navigate automation, leverage predictive analytics, ensure cybersecurity, adapt to hybrid and remote work models, and excel in social selling. 

Meanwhile, soft skills, such as communication and problem-solving, remain essential even in a technology-driven world, and all professional learning and development opportunities, from IT apprenticeships to team leadership training, are evolving to provide these skills alongside core technical competencies. 

As apprenticeship standards evolve to meet future demands, business leaders can take advantage of bespoke, tailored programmes to train professionals at various levels of seniority within their organisations, ensuring staff are supported in enhancing their careers and knowledge. 

With the accessibility and flexibility offered by modern apprenticeships, employers are in a better position than ever to reskill their experienced employees and provide new hires with the graduate apprenticeships they need to drive long-term organisational success.

Experts in Delivering Professional and Graduate Apprenticeships

With a 25-year track record of delivering modern apprenticeships to candidates across the UK and the USA, Pareto’s specialist training providers closely partner with your leaders to ensure that all learning and development programmes align with your urgent and long-term business needs. Contact us today and learn how Pareto’s professional and graduate apprenticeships are preparing candidates for the workplace of the future. 

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