Close the Digital Skills Gap with Apprenticeships 1440 x 639
10 June 2018

Digital transformation is a top priority for all industries, but it brings with it a whole host of challenges, including the demand for digitally skilled employees. 

Not only do companies need to adopt new technology, they need to entirely re-think their strategy and adopt a digital-first approach if they are to survive the 4th industrial revolution.  And, whilst there’s a need for up-skilling existing employees, there’s the even bigger challenge of finding new talent to bridge the intensifying, digital skills gap. 

Move over Millennials, enter Generation Z

Gen Z is the demographic cohort after the Millennials, and generally regarded as those people born from 1995 to 2010. They are considered to be even more tech-savvy than their predecessors, and the first truly digital generation. It’s more than likely that they could swipe a screen before they learned to talk. 

Research claims that Gen Z have a shorter attention span that Millennials (12 seconds), however, “their ability to hyperprocess information is faster than ever, with social platforms claiming that users only allow 1.2 seconds to disrupt their thumb swiping and capture their attention with brand content.” 

Millennials may be good at multi-tasking, and managing two devices at once, but Gen Z take it to a new level, where they can happily manage up to five! 

Millennials like to communicate through text using apps like Whatsapp and Messenger, whereas Gen Z prefer to communicate through video and images – an added bonus given how much video conferencing has emerged as an increasingly popular tool for remote meetings. 

Up-skilling your existing employees to be more digital is only half of the solution when it come to digital transformation. And this is where Gen Z can provide a solution. Considering apprenticeship schemes as part of your recruitment process is a great way to breathe new life into a transforming organisation. 

What they lack in industry experience and qualifications, they make up for ten-fold in attitude, digital knowledge, and processing speed. Their life experience as digital natives can complement their ‘industry experienced’ colleagues, to encourage new ways of working. 

Fewer candidates with degrees

According to One File, apprenticeships are becoming more appealing amongst the next generation. 

“Fewer students are forking out £9,000 a year in fees, and more are turning to vocational training or degree apprenticeships to jumpstart their career.” 

In the past, recruitment in pharma has relied heavily on industry experience, relevant qualifications and having the right contacts. It was common place for candidates to be over looked simply because they were from a different industry, despite have the right skills. But thinking about the future, how are these considerations going to help drive digital transformation in your business? 

If you want to maintain competitive advantage and future-proof your business, filling the digital skills gap should be a priority. At the pace in which new technologies are becoming available, employees need to have growth mindsets, and an agile approach to work. And this means thinking outside of the traditional box when it comes to recruitment. 

Personnel Today revealed that the experience gained in an apprenticeship is more important to some employers than qualifications when hiring young members of staff. 

Research commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians, conducted among 1,000 organisations employing more than five staff, showed that half (49%) of employers said they would prefer to see experience from a relevant apprenticeship or previous position on a candidate’s CV, compared to only 24% who would prefer a relevant degree. The research found that 71% of employers prioritised candidates with relevant experience from an apprenticeship or previous position, because they had acquired skills from a practical setting, and 62% said they demonstrated a better understanding of the world of work. 

Recruiting for the future

Recruiting apprentices might just be the ace up your sleeve for bridging the skills gap, driving transformation, and gaining competitive advantage in your business. (And once you’ve got to grips with Gen Z, it’s time to start thinking further ahead – Generation Alpha will be the next cohort of digital professionals!).