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Sparking young people’s interest in digital is essential for UK Business

Written by Megan Taylor, Business Development Manager, Ahead Partnership

With the introduction of the apprenticeship levy this month, thousands of businesses are paying into a scheme where they fail to attract and retain young candidates. How can we ensure that young people realise the opportunities available to them so that our digital businesses can grow?The future workforce

The future workforce are true digital natives. Having been born into a Western society where digital devices and the internet are in their homes, schools and readily available from birth, perhaps this familiarity and acceptance of technology so early on accounts in part for the lack of enthusiasm young people evidently feel towards working in the sector.We work with thousands of businesses across the UK who tell us of their struggles when it comes to recruiting young people into the digital sector, particularly when funded apprenticeships are on offer. In Leeds City Region, where our Head Office is based, the sector is set to grow by 15% to 2024 so the demand is real.

We work with thousands of businesses across the UK who tell us of their struggles when it comes to recruiting young people into the digital sector, particularly when funded apprenticeships are on offer. In Leeds City Region, where our Head Office is based, the sector is set to grow by 15% to 2024 so the demand is real.Employers often tell us too that degree courses are not equipping undergraduates with the skills they need to enter employment and so the learning begins again once they enter the workplace at 21 – a problem which could and should be solved by the apprenticeship scheme where learning takes place earlier and on the job.

Employers often tell us too that degree courses are not equipping undergraduates with the skills they need to enter employment and so the learning begins again once they enter the workplace at 21 – a problem which could and should be solved by the apprenticeship scheme where learning takes place earlier and on the job.Sparking young people’s interest in digital is key to ensuring businesses, particularly those that are compelled to pay the apprenticeship levy, are able to recruit candidates and run full

Sparking young people’s interest in digital is key to ensuring businesses, particularly those that are compelled to pay the apprenticeship levy, are able to recruit candidates and run full programmes for the sustainability and growth of their businesses. Very recently we’ve been working on a number of projects to help employers make the opportunities in digital real for our young people and to bust the stereotypes that young people have about the sector.Earlier this year we held the very first #GirlTechLCR event which saw 160 students from schools in Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Calderdale taking part in interactive activities which could bring the world of tech to life. The event, hosted by Leeds-based telecommunications giant aql, started with a guest speech from aql’s Chief Operations Officer, Sarah Tulip, followed by a guest panel of female role models from Sky, Skipton Building Society, Zerado, Arris and Premier Farnell. Students then moved to an exhibition hall brimming with local tech talent and took part in a selection of interactive workshops hosted by Jet2.com, O2, Siemens, Epiphany, Advancery, WYG, Bradford University,

Earlier this year we held the very first #GirlTechLCR event which saw 160 students from schools in Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Calderdale taking part in interactive activities which could bring the world of tech to life. The event, hosted by Leeds-based telecommunications giant aql, started with a guest speech from aql’s Chief Operations Officer, Sarah Tulip, followed by a guest panel of female role models from Sky, Skipton Building Society, Zerado, Arris and Premier Farnell. Students then moved to an exhibition hall brimming with local tech talent and took part in a selection of interactive workshops hosted by Jet2.com, O2, Siemens, Epiphany, Advancery, WYG, Bradford University, Lhasa and Zeal. Themes included fintech, cyber security, UX, development, web design, big data and virtualisation. As a result, 92% of the students that attended now say they are considering a career in digital or tech – a fantastic result for just one school day.We’ve also recently partnered with Premier Farnell to produce a Wearable Technology competition, where students were challenged to use their problem-solving and coding skills to create a piece of wearable tech that could be mass manufactured. Each school received a component technology pack which equipped them for the challenge and the best competitors from each school were put forward to a live final where teams presented their ideas to a panel of industry professional judges.

We’ve also recently partnered with Premier Farnell to produce a Wearable Technology competition, where students were challenged to use their problem-solving and coding skills to create a piece of wearable tech that could be mass manufactured. Each school received a component technology pack which equipped them for the challenge and the best competitors from each school were put forward to a live final where teams presented their ideas to a panel of industry professional judges.Such business engagement in young people’s education and adding insight and depth

Such business engagement in young people’s education and adding insight and depth about the world of work to their school or college experience is vital if we’re to raise their awareness of the opportunities available for them in digital. The businesses we’ve worked with so far have been amazed with the impact half a day of volunteering with local young people has made when it comes to improving their understanding of the labour market generally, but almost two-fold when it comes to digital. By refusing to engage with the young, we’re deliberately continuing to shroud digital in mystery to no one’s benefit. Business engagement with the future workforce is absolutely necessary if we’re to attract candidates to the schemes government has set up to help our businesses grow – and what could be simpler than half a day out of the office?

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