Microsoft is launching an online apprenticeship platform that will connect more jobseekers with companies who need apprentices.
The Microsoft Apprenticeship Connector is a partnership between GetMyFirstJob and Microsoft which aims to simplify the apprenticeship process by listing vacancies across Microsoft’s network of partners and customers. The Connector also helps Microsoft’s partners and customers promote their apprentice vacancies to a larger and more diverse range of candidates.
Platform partner GetMyFirstJob recognised that traditional recruitment processes were exacerbating barriers to social mobility. It created an online solution to connect people with opportunities via alternative career pathways, helping place three candidates every hour and reaching more than 4.1m people in 2020.
Clare Barclay, CEO, Microsoft UK, said: “Digital apprenticeships are one of the best routes to well-paid careers in businesses of all types, not just in tech. It’s why we have worked hard over the past 10 years to help provide thousands of people with the skills and training needed for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow. Yet even in the current jobs market, the reality is there are many vacancies going unfilled. I encourage anyone thinking about getting started in digital to visit The Microsoft Apprenticeship Connector and take the next step.”
Almost half of UK firms are looking to recruit tech workers and those roles require the same technical skills – data analytics, AI and cyber security – regardless of the company or sector. Microsoft predicts that the UK will have the capacity for another three million tech jobs by 2025. While overall apprenticeship starts declined by around 16% year on year, digital remained flat, with starts outperforming the market trend April through to June 2020.
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer and a supporter of apprenticeships, said: “We know that apprenticeships work and I’m committed to creating more opportunities as part of our Plan for Jobs. That’s why at Budget, I doubled the cash incentive for employers to hire apprentices and introduced a new flexi-job apprenticeship programme that will enable apprentices to work with a number of different employers in one sector.
“It’s great to see Microsoft using their technology expertise to make it easier for people to engage with these fantastic opportunities. As the world becomes increasingly more digital, these skills will play a crucial role in helping us build back better from the pandemic.”
Small businesses in particular are struggling to fill apprenticeship vacancies, and Sean O’Shea, Managing Director of change management business and Microsoft partner Hable, believes the Connector will put him in touch with the talent he is looking for. Microsoft is an Apprenticeship Levy employer and reinvests their levy to fund apprenticeship training in their partner network. Yet the company found that small businesses could not take advantage of the funding if they had not filled vacancies. Hable has recently experienced this struggle to find talent and fill apprenticeship roles.
O’Shea said: “We were in a fortunate position that our business was thriving during the pandemic. Despite our eagerness to help people start their career, we struggled to promote and reach candidates; we received only six applicants for our three vacancies. We really value the fresh perspectives apprentices bring to our business and, backed by the Microsoft brand, the Apprenticeship Connector will fast track the apprenticeship process to find talent to build our workforce and transform the future of work.”
Elliott Garwood, who is 20 years old, had been looking for an apprenticeship role for a while before being offered a position with Hable.
He said: “Apprenticeship pathways are not easy to find or navigate and you can be put off in thinking a digital apprenticeship is not for you. I believe Covid-19 will open this route up to a lot more people – the team works fully online and the flexible training means I have been able to move cities while earning and learning. I have also quickly realised that I am working for a company that listens to my ideas and I feel I have a role to play in shaping their future, which may not have been my experience if I had taken a different route.”
At launch, 26,000 Microsoft Partners will be able to use this approach to develop their skills for the future. Jobseekers and employers will be able to discover, access, upload and apply for:
- Apprenticeship vacancies such as programmers and software development roles, which can lead to an average starting salary of £44,700 post the apprenticeship programme and certification
- High-quality training programmes, insights and learning resources from the Microsoft Apprenticeship Network which could lead to certification
- Guides to help apprenticeship training partners and employers design and deliver apprenticeship programmes in digital roles working with Microsoft technology
The launch of the Microsoft Apprenticeship Connector follows several initiatives the company has launched to help people learn digital skills.
In October, Microsoft announced Get On 2021, a five-year campaign to help 1.5 million people build careers in technology and help 300,000 connect to tech job opportunities.
KPMG, Unilever and the Department of Work and Pensions are supporting the campaign and Microsoft is calling on other UK businesses to join them in helping create the technology workforce the country needs.
Since 2010, the Microsoft Apprenticeship Network has helped nearly 30,000 people start a digital apprenticeship. In a recent survey, 89% of apprentices said the Microsoft Apprenticeship Network provides experience that is valued by employers.