Can your business afford not to hire an Apprentice?

By Hugh Milward, Director of Corporate Affairs, Microsoft UK

09 March 2015 – Ask any successful IT business in the UK what their biggest issue is, and they’ll tell you it is recruiting qualified people they need to grow their company. Hiring people with the right skills, particularly when you are a small business, can be a huge and extremely costly challenge.

As we head into National Apprenticeship Week – a chance to celebrate Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy, I want to stop and take stock of the progress we’ve made within the technology sector. This week is a chance for us to think about how we can continue to grow the breadth of opportunities available to young people in the UK. This is vital to help us to combat the skills shortage facing the IT industry, and to help the young people struggling to break into it.

This year, Microsoft is celebrating the five year anniversary of its Partner Apprenticeship programme, designed for and by Microsoft partners and customers, and run in conjunction with eight training providers nationwide. Since 2010, the scheme has seen over 7000 young people placed in around 5000 different companies, combining a real job with Microsoft-certified qualifications upon completion; something that has seen its effectiveness and popularity grow year-on-year.

That effectiveness, for both employers and Apprentices, is underlined by new research commissioned by Microsoft and QA, released today, showing just how valuable Apprentices can be to businesses, particularly small enterprises. We already know SMEs can acquire talent and grow their business simultaneously and cost effectively by taking on Apprentices. However, the figures suggest that, if measured by monetary value, each Apprentice gives back approximately £12,000 per year to those businesses. Furthermore, this figure rises the longer those Apprentices stay on, up to a staggering £19,000 for businesses who started in 2012 or earlier. Neither is this just about the economy; the research shows the scheme delivering tangible benefits across the board – from the 86% of employers who agree it produces commercially valuable skills, to the 89% of Apprentices who believe it has improved their career prospects.

And for those businesses already involved, they also benefit from nurturing a passionate, skilled and loyal talent base where 93% of Microsoft Apprentices remain with the companies they start with as they move into fully qualified positions.

Finally, the research demonstrates that whilst those who embark upon a Microsoft certified Apprenticeship thrive, many more are still missing out because they don’t know what opportunities are available. This is why we are not just committing to the Microsoft Partner Apprenticeship programme for at least a further 5 years, but widening our involvement to double the number of Apprenticeship opportunities each year to over 4,000.

Read the full report here: Microsoft Apprenticeship Programme Research

Find out more about Microsoft Apprenticeships: