Training Providers Discuss How Apprenticeships Benefit Vendors and Employers at EMEACon

At this year’s CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference in London, businesses from across the IT channel gathered to share best practices and discuss the challenges facing the industry.

One of these was an open roundtable session that saw members of the training community come together to discuss the latest developments in certification and learning, as well as sharing ideas on what the future may hold.

Initial discussions focused around the changes happening in modern apprenticeships, with the prescriptive standards of the old school awarding bodies opening up to allow third party and vendor certifications to help towards qualification.

This is a great boost to employers, as skills can now not only be leveraged around core needs and skills but also honed to deliver more business and role applicable skills such as key vendor certs, such as Cisco, HP etc. This means that employers can develop skills for business targeted around their own core offering or services. Many of the group acknowledged that there is no longer a one-fit model when looking at talent development, and although this new approach may add complexity, it is a benefit to employers and may also encourage increased adoption for learning programs.

Discussion also focused around a newly introduced government levy and how this may broaden the range of people undertaking learning and development. For many large organisations, the available funding pot generated by the levy may result in not just new employees benefiting from training but also create new opportunities for existing employees to be upskilled; increasing demand for courses with training providers.

After open discussions around course syllabus, the group concluded that heterogeneous skills such as the CompTIA A+ certification are still crucial and valuable qualifications as aside from vendor specific knowledge the cert delivers broad portable skills and learnings to delegates.

The new standards for learning are also impacting the way learning is delivered. Now candidates are interviewed at the end of the course to establish their knowledge and demonstrate skills rather than the previous ongoing assessment ticking boxes. This means that the role of the assessor is changing and now needs to be that of a business coach and mentor, guiding the candidate throughout. Technology is also helping to shape the learning environment; especially in the technology space, where students now have greater access to online labs and virtual environments rather than having to travel to physical locations. It’s felt that this could also help to unlock previous geographical challenges, as students can work from wherever as long as they have access to the Web.

As these new standards become widely adopted, vendors will also have to pay close attention to ensure course and certification content adds value and doesn’t duplicate work. But this will ensure vendors can benefit from more skilled workers with their specific vendor specialisations.

However, for vendors suddenly thinking that certs can quickly be pushed into programs, think again. New standards can take years to pull together and launch, and the awarding body will closely examine and review any potential certifications put forward for points towards academic grading.

The group also discussed common challenges, one of these being how to get more women and girls working on tech-based apprenticeships. While no magic bullet could be found, everyone agreed that work is needed to both educate parents and the education system to raise awareness and change perception. In addition, adoption of degree apprenticeships may rise as they allow students to gain a degree without incurring the debt associated, which seems to be increasing.

Finally, attention was given to areas where the group felt educational courses needed more focus. These fell into key areas such as data analytics, big data, artificial intelligence and coding. The group believed that demand for these skill-sets will grow in the future and currently there are gaps in educational resources to address these.

All agreed that we are living through an period of change and the future for workplace apprenticeships around technology is looking strong, but will continue to require feedback and review as technology and industry demands can change at lightning pace.

Click here to read our other highlights of EMEACon 2016.