Public sector IT heads and industry bodies are calling for more local government IT departments to employ apprentices to fill skills gaps.
The message comes as councils are in the process of seeing through major cuts programmes of more than 20%, and as the number of young people not in employment, education or training continues to rise.
Karen Price, CEO at e-skills UK, said IT apprenticeship programmes are a good source of tomorrow’s IT professionals. “In the public sector, where budgets are under pressure, IT professional apprenticeships can offer a very strong return on investment,” she said.
Jean Gamester, service change manager at Buckinghamshire County Council, currently employs two IT apprentices. “I do think organisations should look into this. The apprentices get practical work experience, the team gets a stronger learning culture and the organisation gets their energy, enthusiasm and hard work. I’m hoping there will be opportunities for them at the end of it,” she said at a roundtable event.
Speaking at the same event, Angela Wint, IT customer support services manager at Merton Borough Council, agreed that such schemes could be beneficial to local government. “This is a challenging time to train young people but I do think apprenticeships would be a positive move and something I’d be keen to look into.”
Gamester said it is difficult for organisations to motivate staff in the current climate of cutbacks. “But there is also a real opportunity to develop skills. The world is changing and people are becoming more involved in driving that future. It is scary, but that is a realistic way to position things,” she said.