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Debora Figueiredo
Feb 18, 2022

Digital has changed the way we live, work, and the types of careers we lead. The digital skills gap is a term used to describe the lack of digital skills employees demand to keep their businesses up to date with the digital demands of their industry.  

 

These skills can be basic or complex, from using data analytics in project management to online communication and content creation. Solutions like apprenticeships can help bridge this skills gap by upskilling and reskilling a business new and existing staff. Ultimately, bridging the digital skills gap is essential for any business.  

 

In our webinar How to prepare for the next generation of workers, we looked at this subject matter and the current digital talent landscape in general. 

 

Apprentify Marketing Manager, Debora Figueiredo, was joined by Paul Drew (Managing Director at Apprentify), Zack Grimes (Education Ambassador, CIM) and Ian Brown (Early Careers and Skills Specialist, Lloyds Banking Group). 

 

In this article, we break down the key takeaways from the webinar and the insights from our guest speakers. 

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View the full webinar below.


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Key takeaways from the digital skills gap webinar 


2:36 - How has COVID impacted the digital transition?


- COVID has been the catalyst for digital transformation 

- Businesses are harnessing the power of digital 

- Accelerated demand for specific digital skills 

- Emphasis on social advertising 

- Catching the ‘15 seconds of engagement’ 

 

“It's certainly focused more businesses to understand and harness the power of digital, which really has meant that the skills needed have had to be accelerated even more.” - Paul Drew 

 

“I think one of the most obvious things the pandemic has had on the digital space is it's catalysed a lot of plans that were pre-pandemic.” Zack Grimes


  • 6:50 - How can businesses prepare for the next generation of workers?


    • By 2050, 75% of the workforce will consist of Millennials and Gen-Z 
    • Cater to hybrid working as the next-gen now expect this flexibility post-COVID 
    • Attract and retain talent by adapting to the modern ways of working 
    • Help people understand the digital ‘kaleidoscope’ 
    • Breakdown stereotypes around qualifications and experience 
    • Give people jobs with purpose
    • Sustainability is a big topic for young people making career choices
    • Be transparent in your digital presence 
  • “One thing that employers can think about is helping young people to understand what that kaleidoscope actually looks like... You need to kind of help them break the stereotype... Retraining Gen Z is about giving people jobs with a sense of purpose.”  - Ian Browne 

 

“I see it here in Apprentify, and across all our employees, we're employing people that started in the middle of a pandemic... And the world of employment and office-based work has changed. A lot of businesses like ours are hybrid.” - Paul Drew 


  • 13:20 - Where does the new talent come from?

     

    • Traditional graduate programmes are disappearing
    • Employers are demanding diverse talent
    • Position your brand to attract diverse talent
    • Identify talent with the characteristics suited to the digital world
    • Digital roles continue to evolve
    • 90% of workers will need to be upskilled by the end of the decade
    • Supporting SMEs with levy transfer for apprenticeship training
    • Consider people looking for a career change. They may have a lack of skills in digital, but they will have transferable skills 

 

“We're seeing it now in our apprenticeship world where employers, they need talent that's from diverse areas and age groups.” - Paul Drew 

 

“When we're in a war in talent, we really can't afford to kind of just look down one path when there are other pools of really good people who want to make that shift who are available to us.” - Ian Browne 

 

“Become more broadly speaking and appealing to a greater range of audiences, whether that be gender, race, age.” - Zack Grimes


  • 20:03 - How do you attract the talent that you need? 


    • Appeal to diverse audiences
    • Realise the jobs market is becoming more siloed
    • Emphasis on individual well-being
    • Widen your talent pools by going beyond the technical requirements of the job title. Hone in on human behavioural characteristics in your job descriptions 
    • You can train people with the digital skills you require
    • Get your marketing and HR teams working closely together
    • Develop your brand and employee advocacy 

 

“To attract your talent, you've really got to appeal to a wider audience.” - Paul Drew 

 

“I think some of this is to get the diversity, is really breaking things down beyond job titles. What is it that you're looking for, not just in terms of the technical skills, which by and large, you can train people up in? But also, what are the human behavioural characteristics that you want?” - Ian Browne 

 

“One of the things I'd like to see personally in organisations is the development of personal brands. I don't just mean at the top level of an organisation, but within an organisation in showcasing what it's like to work for that business.” - Zack Grimes 

 

  • 26:30 - How do businesses identify their internal skills gaps?


    • Establish your promotion, development and replacement programmes
    • Look at your competitors
    • Understand the customer demand
    • Reskill and upskill you and your employees
    • Identify if an employee is better placed in another role 

 

“One of the kind of simplest unlocking questions is just asking yourself in five years time, do you see in your business, in the best will in the world, do you see exactly the same people doing exactly the same thing in exactly the same way? No because some of your people will go on to leave. So where is your promotion programme? Where's your development programme? Where's your replacement programme?” - Ian Browne


32:06 - The difference between hiring apprentices vs graduates?

 

    • Apprentices


      • Diverse ages, locations and educational backgrounds
      • In some cases, they are more tenacious and driven
      • Tend to be more loyal to the company they did their apprenticeship with
      • They are information sponges 
      • They grow and develop both personally and professionally
      • Become more ingrained and embedded in the organisation
      • Feel valued by the company they work for
      • More cost-effective hire
      • Giving people from different backgrounds a chance
      • On training days, they rub shoulders with your competitors, giving you a mine of information you could never get hold of 

 

    • Graduates


      • Already come with the knowledge and some experience
      • Demonstrated a level of self-development from their time at university 
      • More likely to move on to other opportunities  

 

“It's about creating a sort of a workforce that really does have skill sets and knowledge and ideas that come from different lenses.” - Paul Drew 

 

“(apprentices) are your innovation force for your organisation.” - Ian Browne


  • 39:26 - What business lessons have we learnt both pre and post-pandemic?


    • Businesses becoming agile to consumer behaviours
    • Being open to future changes   
    • Innovation is increasing supply and demand 
    • This demand highlights the digital skills shortage 
    • The continuous need for personal and professional learning and development 
    • Industries, competitors and the UK Government have come together
    • Hybrid working has become the norm 
    • People have adapted to technology and online working   

 

“I think businesses are now becoming much more open and more agile to that. (consumer behaviour changes) And that's the only way they're seeing survival being future-proofed going forward.” - Zack Grimes 

 

“It's been amazing to see how businesses have adapted and how they've adapted technology to help them to get through this.” - Paul Drew 

 

Q&A 46:09 - How can SMEs develop apprentices when they often have minimal experience of the digital arena themselves? 

 

“It's not a huge issue if an employer hasn't got any experience or knowledge. It helps the apprentice if they do because the apprentice needs that sounding board and that guidance. But that can be done through the coaching network.” - Paul Drew 

 

“I think it's about thinking about changing your leadership style from being a directive leadership style to getting used to learning how to ask good questions. If you really want the value from your apprentice, get used to asking them really good questions.” - Ian Browne


49:53 - Upskilling existing staff via an apprenticeship vs. taking on a younger apprentice with little or no experience. 

 

“Apprentices aren't just for new staff members. We can put existing staff on (apprenticeships) for employers. We spend a lot of time with employers, really trying to understand, is this right for their staff members? Have they got the time to allocate it to?” - Paul Drew 

 

“There is still a stigma that apprenticeships are for young people. So there's a greater need for case studies of that, where older people have transitioned and used an apprenticeship to enhance their career.” - Zack Grimes 

 

54:19 - How do employers find the balance between current business needs and training inexperienced apprentices? 

 

"If you're going to put people onto apprenticeships, you need to give them time to learn. Otherwise, you're wasting everybody's time.  So don't lose sight of upskilling, and don't be scared of it." - Ian Browne 

 

"It's really understanding what's important to the business and really looking at time management. So it will be looking at business needs and looking at where and it's not just apprentices, it's all staff, it's looking at where you can actually get (the) best value and get (the) best return for as little effort and resource at one end or focus." - Paul Drew 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about bridging the gap within your business, get in touch today. Together, let’s tackle the digital skills gap. 

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  • YouTube Timestamps  


    • 0:00 -  Introductions
    • 2:36 - How has COVID impacted the digital transition?
    • 6:50 - How can businesses prepare for the next generation of workers?
    • 13:20 - Where does the new talent come from?
    • 20:03 - How do you attract the talent that you need? 
    • 26:30 - How do businesses identify their internal skills gaps?  
    • 32:06 - What is the difference between hiring an apprentice vs hiring a graduate? 
    • 39:26 - What business lessons have we learnt both pre and post-pandemic? 
    • 46:09 - How can SMEs develop apprentices when they often have minimal experience of the digital arena themselves?
    • 49:53 - Upskilling existing staff via an apprenticeship vs taking on a younger apprentice with little or no experience. 
    • 54:19 - How do employers find the balance between current business needs and training inexperienced apprentices?

    If you’re interested in adding a Digital or Technical apprentice into your business, take a look at the apprenticeships we have on offer: Apprenticeship Courses | Digital & Technical | Apprentify