Inspiring the Digitally Innate

Young people using digital skills and technology on computer

Written by Mick Westman, CEO Digital INnov8ors

There is a need to address the Digital skills shortage by creating career pathways to future employment for today’s 16-25-year olds. A model that is a fusion between education providers, businesses and learners – demand-led education, Learners develop their unique talents whilst applying digital skills to solve employer problems.

The current generation of learners are more digitally enabled than any generation before them. Digital is in their DNA. We believe that employers are struggling on two fronts;

(1) They lack the digital skills required to help them be competitive in the market place and grow

(2) Their ability to find recruits with the skills they need that would make them effective employees. Often sighting over qualification and low real-world experience.

An important aspect of our approach is recognising that being ‘innately digital’ crosses all segments of society – digital disruption should be used as a democratising tool – and offers new opportunities to the 55% of learners not destined for tertiary education.

It’s time to recognise that lean-back classroom, abstract teaching, does not work for everyone. The aim is to ensure that less academically orientated talent is sufficiently inspired and ambitious to grasp employment opportunities. This inclusive approach broadens the region’s talent pool by tapping into a segment of the prospective workforce previously significantly ignored by the tech-led sectors. It is shaped to engage those that are hard to reach because they have been disenfranchised by the education system but are either continuing to struggle within the system, or are now not in employment, education or training (‘NEETS’).

This will enable us to spread the opportunities offered by tomorrow’s smart city to the largest possible number of citizens. It will also support a largely ignored source of innovators and entrepreneurs, again helping drive wider inclusion and hence a richer pool of innovators to drive the economy.  It plays, at several levels, to the local engineering heritage that drove the ‘work shop of the world’, which has to potential to do so again in this 4th Industrial Revolution.

The Apprentice Training Agencies (ATA’s) model offers a unique approach to the recruitment of apprentices and could be used to enable such an approach

ATA’s are specifically designed to support employers who wish to take on an apprentice but are unable to in the current economic climate. They can support employers whose order book will not currently allow them to commit to employing an apprentice for the full period of the Apprenticeship but know that they will need fully trained employees when the economy picks up.

The distinctive feature of the ATA model is that it is the ATA who “acts as” the apprentice employer and who places them with a host employer. The host employer pays the ATA a fee for the apprentices’ services; this fee being based on the wage agreed with the host and the ATA management fee.

The ATA model offers other benefits for the employer. These include;

The ATA could specialise in the provision of Digital Skills,

Support with recruitment – finding the right apprentice to meet the employers’ needs,

Supervision of the apprentice during the Apprenticeship period,

Links with an approved training provider and support to both the apprentice and host employer throughout the Apprenticeship.

For the young person the ATA gives another route into an Apprenticeship which can offer them the opportunity to experience a range of employers and increased security around the continuation of their Apprenticeship.

The Apprenticeship Training Agency model is being developed to contribute to the success of Apprenticeships by giving access for a greater number of employers and young people.



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