From their central role in the levelling up agenda to their vital importance in meeting labour market shortages, apprenticeships were never far from the news in 2022.
This year, the growing trend of using apprenticeships to upskill existing workers and the urgent need to address chronic shortages in specific sectors such as data science, cyber security, and digital marketing will mean they continue to dominate discussions about the skills sector.
Here are six key trends to expect in 2023.
Drive for quality
There will be a huge improvement in the overall quality of apprenticeships this year. A great many apprenticeships on offer do not measure up, for apprentices and employers alike. We predict a crackdown on these low-quality apprenticeship providers as the government enforces a far stricter certification regime.
Organisations are also starting to pay more attention to traditional educational rankings such as Ofsted reports when choosing an apprenticeships partner. Employers who pay the apprenticeship levy will want a better return for their money and will start to understand that not all providers are equal.
In-work apprenticeship growth
There will be a growing acceptance of the value of in-work apprenticeships. Rather than just being seen as a way of getting the unemployed into work, the number of organisations that use the apprenticeship route to upskill existing workers will rise, especially in areas of high demand such as data science and digital marketing.
More nurturing apprenticeships
There will be a shift towards employers offering a clear growth path to employees on apprenticeship programmes. The traditional “enrol and forget”policy has led newly trained and skilled employees to knowing their value in the marketplace and moving on for higher salaries.
It is unrealistic to expect younger staff to confront their bosses and ask for the pay rise justified by their new skills, so those who want to hang on to their apprentices will need to take a more active role in coaching them along the way so they understand their prospects within their companies.
Demand for data analysts
Data analysts will be in even higher demand as organisations realise that this role is not some back-room boffin but essential in driving growth and efficiencies in every part of a business. They will become the keeper of the keys to the kingdom of growth, not just the spreadsheet wizard.
As digital transformation becomes the norm, someone has to make sense of the data that will drive investment decisions. With such skills in short supply, it is vital that companies invest in building teams of data analysts. A year ago, employers were asking why they needed a data analyst. They will stop asking the question as they realise they can’t find out what is driving their business without one.
An urgent cyber-crisis
The chronic shortage of cyber security skills will be addressed by a drive to train non-graduates. With the UK now suffering the third highest number of ransomware attacks globally, companies have to move fast to fill the gap and the sky-high salaries for the diminishing pool of cyber talent will be unaffordable for many SMBs.
Apprenticeships will form part of this strategy, but local and regional authority-funded boot camps will also play a major role as companies understand the urgency of the situation.
One area that has grown rapidly over the past 12 months and will really take off in 2023 is the sales apprenticeship. In the past, salespeople were seen as being “born, not made” – but this is simply not the case. Companies who have struggled to fill sales vacancies will see the value of training their own people with government support, rather than gambling on “proven” sellers that come with a hefty recruiter’s fee and no guarantees.