by Ben Sweetman

The financial crisis that the Coronavirus pandemic seems to steer us into is already having a profound effect, with rising redundancies and falling recruitment. This excellent article by the Resolution Foundation pulls together early data on the labour market impact.

At the same time, there has been a sort of "Digital Dunkirk" as companies are rapidly moving to virtual and online business models, trying to achieve in weeks what would normally take years.

Virgin Media reported that download internet usage was up by 90% since the lockdown started. 

The big overarching trend towards digital will not change. In fact, it has accelerated. However, most companies are now having to manage cash closely and large digital transformation projects may not get the same investment – or will be delayed.

Apprenticeship growth after the previous financial crisis

Looking back to the financial crisis, technology apprenticeships grew in the aftermath as employers looked at more cost-effective recruitment options than they used before.

IT and telecoms apprenticeships in the UK QA Ltd







IT & Telecoms Apprenticeships










(Source: ESFA FE Data Library)


Investing in digital talent, but without the cost

The Apprenticeship Levy is a sunk cost for large employers and very few employers have come close to using their full Levy pot. The Open University estimated that employers have only used 14% of their funds, and £3bn lies currently unspent.

At the same time, a large number of staff are under-utilised or even furloughed. These staff members are typically those in more face-to-face and legacy business roles.

We know that once this is over, digital will remain the number-one priority and that it will still be very hard to hire on the open market. Now is a perfect time to bring together the under-spend on the Levy with the available time of your staff.

By re-training staff as business analysts, software developers and data analysts through apprenticeships, companies can prepare for the future at little or no marginal cost.

To find out more about our digital apprenticeships and re-training models, visit QA's Digital Apprenticeships page.