Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK, and Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak visits Microsoft’s UK headquarters and highlights impact of apprentices on economy

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has visited Microsoft’s UK headquarters to learn more about how the company supports and develops apprentices.

The Chancellor met with Clare Barclay, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft UK, some of the company’s customers and partners, and young employees at Thames Valley Park in Reading as part of Microsoft’s Celebrating Success event.

This was held to mark National Apprenticeship Week, which runs until February 13 and highlights the positive impact that apprentices have on individuals, employers and the wider economy.

After announcing the latest GDP figures, which showed the UK economy grew 1% in the last three months and 7.5% in the whole of 2021, the Chancellor took part in a panel session with Clare Barclay and apprentices from Microsoft and BP.

During the session, the apprentices spoke about why they chose to become apprentices and the importance of digital skills for companies across the UK. This was echoed by Rishi, who highlighted how apprentices are driving industries forward as their knowledge of technology unlocks innovation and collaboration.

The Chancellor said: “I was delighted to visit Microsoft’s UK headquarters to see first-hand the positive impact that apprentices can have on companies large and small, from all sectors and areas of the UK.

“Apprenticeships are a cornerstone of our Plan for Jobs and play a critical role in boosting our economy, creating jobs and transforming people’s lives.

“Microsoft’s apprenticeship network is a great example of how apprenticeships can support individual development, training and learning. I wish them all the best as they follow their ambitions and achieve their career goals.”

Clare Barclay, Chief Executive Officer at Microsoft UK, and Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer; with digital apprentices Saffron Barriere, Luke Young and Patrick Toulson

Clare Barclay said: “Since launching in 2010, the Microsoft Apprenticeship Network has helped 30,000 apprentices to build a technology career.

“Apprenticeships combine a job with qualification-led training and the opportunity to put skills into practice. This is a powerful combination that is unlocking opportunity and growth for individuals and employers in every sector of the economy – from finance, fashion and healthcare, to manufacturing, charities, sports clubs and government.

“We want to help people get the right skills to thrive in technology careers, and employers find the right talent to help drive business success and UK prosperity. Together, we can build a future based on long-term sustainable growth.”

The Celebrating Success event also featured a hackathon that challenged Microsoft apprentices and executives to explore ways to build on the company’s work with partners and talent, as well as maximising digital technology.

Luke Young, an apprentice and Cloud Architect at Microsoft, said: “Being an apprentice at Microsoft has led to so many exciting opportunities. I am working for one of the world’s leading technology companies while learning new skills in an area I’m passionate about and gaining qualifications that will set me up for success in the future. An apprenticeship was the right path for me, and I’m looking forward to growing my career at Microsoft.”

Celebrating Success builds on Microsoft’s work with customers and partners to support apprentices. In 2020, the company launched the five-year Get On campaign to help 1.5 million people build technology careers and help 300,000 connect to tech job opportunities. KPMG, Unilever and the Department of Work and Pensions are supporting the campaign.

Microsoft anticipates the need for more than three million skilled people in UK technology careers over the next five years. Allied to which, a Microsoft study with Goldsmiths, University of London has identified more than £48 billion of opportunity if UK leaders enhance their organisations’ digital competitiveness through sustainable growth practices

Microsoft is working with its 25,000-strong partner community and customers to create, expand and accelerate pathways into tech careers, widening access and building a more diverse tech specialist workforce.

Microsoft have also launched a Digital Skills Hub to give everyone access to the skills, knowledge and opportunity needed to achieve more.