At first glance, it might not be immediately obvious that the UK’s widening digital and tech skills gap has potentially serious ramifications for government and public sector organisations – but the simple truth is that it does. And unless we do something to bring new skills into our workforces, these ramifications are only going to intensify.

Tech is no longer a defined industry, and digital is increasingly omnipresent in large proportions of jobs, regardless of sector. In fact, over the next three to five years, 10 million jobs will fundamentally change as a result of automation and emerging technologies, not discriminating between the public, private and third sector.

This is something the Government understands, and QA is delighted to have been awarded a new contract to support the Civil Service with apprenticeships, continuing to build on five years of work together that has already delivered 1,926 apprentices, with 1,096 of those gaining distinctions.

Positive results

The results have been phenomenal. As the introduction to the Civil Service Apprenticeships Strategy 2022-25, published earlier this week, states:

“The positive impact of their 'learning while doing' is evident across the UK – from the national Covid response and bringing people in Afghanistan to safety, to improving digital public services. Our apprentices are improving lives and spending taxpayers’ money with care while developing skills they will need and use throughout their careers.”

Apprenticeships are a powerful way to equip learners and public sector organisations with relevant skills and capabilities needed to successfully navigate a data-driven future. We focus on arming those entering the Civil Service or already working within it with data analysis skills, rapidly upskilling individuals to develop and deploy tangible solutions that drive efficiency, productivity and impactful decision making.

The 5% target

The new Civil Service Apprenticeships Strategy crystallises their belief in the power of apprenticeships. This ambitious plan sets a commitment to apprentices making up 5% of the UK Home Civil Service workforce. Aligned to the Declaration on Government Reform, it consolidates the Civil Service’s response to the pandemic and investment in people, developing expertise and capability by bringing in people from a range of backgrounds, and arming them with the right skills to build sustainable careers.

It is a resounding endorsement of the power and benefits that apprenticeships provide as a route into work for individuals, and to introduce enhanced skills to organisations that make them future ready and able to effectively deliver for all audiences.

Social mobility

Apprenticeships are also key for social mobility. The Strategy states that, while the Social Mobility Commission sets a benchmark of 39% for people from a working-class background, as of September 2021, 42% of Civil Service apprentices were from a working-class background.

Government and the public sector should take inspiration from the Civil Service’s renewed commitment to apprenticeships. Having seen the clear benefits apprentices are delivering in terms of skills, capability and social mobility, they are now at the heart of the Civil Service’s talent strategy.

Apprenticeships can provide the same outcomes for every other organisation committed to levelling up, facing social mobility challenges or needing to plug skills gaps that, left unfilled, could threaten productivity and excellence in delivery of services. They can help in many ways, including:

  • Delivering projects more efficiently
  • Using technology effectively to make better decisions
  • Driving employee retention
  • Upskilling existing employees

If you’re working in government or public sector and want to know more about how apprenticeships could help you achieve your goals, get in touch today at QAGovApprenticeships@qa.com.