A new service, by the Government, gives companies more control over their apprenticeship schemes, in the hope to boost skills.
The Government believes that the scheme, which is powered by Microsoft Azure, will help to give employers greater control by choosing the types of apprenticeships they want to run, that are most beneficial to them.
Additional benefits include helping businesses to open up to new types of apprenticeships, helping to increase the quality, and allowing employers access to a larger talent pool and encourage greater diversity.
The system works by employers using the service to search for their specific type of apprenticeship training, tailored to their sector, and then finding a provider who offers that training. Next, employers set up an account, which will manage the apprenticeship funding, before posting vacancies to find the right candidates. After recruitment is completed, employers can authorise payments to the training provider.
After a recent report from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation revealed UK employers are struggling to fill vacancies, following the sharpest drop for more than a year in the number of available candidates, the Government is keen to boost the number of skilled workers across the UK. Skills shortages have been reported across a range of over 60 roles including engineers, IT specialists and accountants.
The new service is operated entirely on Azure, a growing collection of connected cloud services developers and IT professionals use to build, deploy and manage application through Microsoft’s global network of date centres.
The service not only allows employers to search and manage applications to find their perfect apprentice, but allows apprentices to look for their perfect scheme and company.
Microsoft’s UK Public Sector General Manager, Derrick McCourt said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education and the Education & Skills Funding Agency have chosen to run the apprenticeship service on Azure. With market-leading security, flexibility and reliability Azure will give it the best foundation for success. Microsoft is proud to be able to help people learn new skills and find apprenticeships in areas they are passionate about, as well as assist companies in finding the right staff.”
The apprenticeship service has been unveiled by the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), an executive agency of the Department for Education, which is designed to be the go to place for employers to manage every aspect of hiring and training said staff.
Employers and apprentices are now connecting in greater numbers as a result of the apprenticeship levy, helping to fund three million apprenticeship funds by 2020. Employers with a wage bill of more than £3million a year will pay 0.5% of their payroll into the levy; then they use the apprenticeship service to manage training, vacancies and apprenticeship applications.
Estimates from the Government state that the levy will affect less than 2% of UK employers, and those who do have to pay will “get back more than they put in by training sufficient numbers of apprentices”.
Keith Smith, Director at the ESFA, was in favour of the new Government scheme, saying: “Azure has transformed the way we have delivered services. We had traditional data centres, but needed an innovative cloud-first strategy. Azure was cost-effective, plus our skills and the skills in our supply chain were aligned with Microsoft.
“We have found [that] by moving to a public cloud provider we have achieved a 30% to 40% return on investment, which is significant for us in driving efficiency and value for money in the public sector.
“We can now be even more responsive, agile and creative. Our developers are able to respond immediately to use needs, positioning the ESFA as a true customer-centric digital organisation.”
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In January, Microsoft announced plans to train 30,000 public servants for free in a range of digital skills to allow UK government and public sector organisations to deliver better, more efficient and modern services to people across the country.
After the company’s apprenticeship programme was launched in 2010, it has now placed more than 7,000 budding apprentices, with many of them going on to secure responsible, productive roles in their chosen business.