Over 560 IT apprenticeships for young people have been created inside 367 small and medium size businesses across England, through a partnership between BT, the National Skills Academy for IT and training provider NITP.
The scheme's employer led approach focussed on encouraging SMEs to recruit IT apprentices, as well as boosting their confidence in young people. For many of the businesses it was the first time recruiting an apprentice.
A clear success, 79 per cent of companies that took part have said they are likely to consider apprenticeships again in the future, according to BT. 86 per cent of apprentices meanwhile, said they intend to pursue a career in IT once their training has ended.
The partnership identified three technology job roles that are in demand amongst smaller firms – database analyst, IT technician and software/web developer – and created a training programme to give young people both the technical and soft skills needed to excel in them.
This training was delivered by NITP at further education colleges in 11 English towns and cities, and was quality assured by BT to ensure the delivery met the standard of BT's own training scheme.
To boost the apprentices' communication, problem solving and team working expertise, the IT Skills Academy offered additional professional development activities, including industry talks and networking events at BT in London and the BBC in Salford.
Damian Brown, head of accredited learning at BT said: "Apprenticeships are a core part of BT's talent strategy as they ensure BT maintains and develops a highly skilled workforce. Through this partnership, we've been able to share our experiences with smaller firms, helping many more realise the benefits that apprentices can bring and start hiring their own."
Beyond the creation of the new apprenticeships, the partnership hopes to have a significant, long-term economic impact. With many smaller firms reporting difficulties filling specialist roles, the young people who have already completed their apprenticeships through the partnership are estimated to create an additional £2.3 million in GVA for the UK economy over the next 10 years, BT said.
"Our aim is to make apprenticeships as popular a route into IT careers as graduate entry," Patrick Beasley, National Skills Academy for IT's apprenticeships project director added.
"The appetite for them is there from young people, but we need to get more companies offering them. By taking an employer-led approach and designing apprenticeships to meet businesses' needs, we've succeeded in getting many more involved."