Skills growth is key to unlocking digital transformation – apprenticeships offer a solution

There is a strong push across government to recruit and retain skilled staff in data roles, as public bodies invest in increasing their data capability. We spoke with George Burbidge, enterprise account executive at Multiverse, about the company’s mission to create a cohort of diverse future leaders.

Posted 16 May 2023 by Christine Horton

There are obvious challenges facing organisations looking to hire skilled employees. However, Multiverse sees an opportunity for those organisations – can you explain a bit more?

We’re in a period of radical and rapid technological change. And the pace of the change seems to be accelerating at an exponential rate.

With this explosion in tech and data comes huge, important questions for those in government: how can this technology be regulated? How can we keep up with the pace of change? And importantly: how can we protect people, their careers and livelihoods?

It’s a valid question. The CEO of Octopus Energy wrote recently that ChatGPT was doing the work of 200 employees. There are jobs at real risk of being replaced.

But at Multiverse, we also see an opportunity: to create a cohort of diverse future leaders.

We can see what the jobs of the future will be: jobs in data, tech and software engineering. These are the jobs that will command the highest salaries and be future proof from the pace of change. We are facing a moment, now, to ensure these jobs of the future don’t just go to the same places as the jobs of the past. We can level the playing field and build a diverse group of future leaders that represent our societies.

What are apprenticeships, and how do they help both individuals and organisations?

Apprenticeships are simply the best mechanism for driving this change.

Apprenticeships are 12-15 month programs that train individuals in in-demand skills such as software engineering, change and project management, and data analytics. For individuals, apprenticeships create a route to great jobs without the constraints of accruing debt or sacrificing salary.

But for organisations, too, apprenticeships are a means of embracing this period of digital transformation: building skills in-house to instil a data-driven culture; boost efficiencies; reach a more diverse population that better represents the community you serve.

Achieving lofty ambitions in data means having people who are skilled in these areas. And the existing systems aren’t producing enough of those people: 518,000 additional workers are needed to fill the roles available in the digital sector. This is three times the number of computer science graduates the UK has produced in the past decade. The government’s own numbers estimate that there are 100,000 unfilled data roles in the UK right now.

Apprenticeships are a vital tool in closing that gap between demand for skills and supply of talent.

How can apprenticeships help the government and public sector specifically?

As data takes on strategic importance for public sector bodies, the skill sets required to manage it can’t be siloed in data teams. Data needs to be part of the culture of an organisation, and that means having data skills embedded across the organisation.

These data skills simply don’t exist in many organisations: they aren’t taught in school or university; and it’s nearly impossible to find people with these skills in the job market.

So public sector bodies can turn to apprenticeships to develop data skills in-house. At Multiverse, we’ve worked with over 1000 private, public and third sector organisations to do just this.

In February, the first Army personnel completed a Multiverse data training programme, supporting the digitalisation of the Army.

Twenty-two learners, spanning ranks and organisations, were enrolled onto the data programme: where they developed data skills that will enable better informed and faster decision making.

Major Neil Donaghy, SO2 Innovation in the Ministry of Defence, said: “Data is a strategic asset for the Army and is in ever-increasing demand. This programme, launched across our military and civilian workforce, enabled us to create a diverse cohort of individuals skilled in the collection, management, interpretation and visualisation of data.”

And last year, NHS England celebrated the success of its Data and Analytics Apprenticeship Pilot – launched in partnership with Multiverse.

Chief data and analytics officer at NHS England, Ming Tang, said “These skill sets go a long way in providing efficiencies to the NHS, with apprentices reporting a 24 percent efficiency increase when working with data after completing the programme. It has also enabled us to invest in our employees and their futures and is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to hone their data skills or reskill into a data role, as well as those at the very start of their career.”

What’s next for apprenticeships and Multiverse?

As the need for digital and data skills only grows, Multiverse is shaping the leaders of the future and scaling an outstanding alternative to university.

If you’re interested in learning more, https://www.multiverse.io/en-GB/employer-contact-form