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Capgemini offers apprentices 'skills bootcamp'

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Capgemini is expanding its apprenticeships scheme as demand from within the business grows - but this brings new challenges, such as imparting employability skills and life experience.

In 2011, the firm had 34 apprentices and this year the number has climbed to 126. The company helps new recruits quickly gain employability skills by placing apprentices through a "concentrated period" of learning and development.

"Typically, graduates come with life experience, they've had three years of being an independent person. With an apprentice you don't always have that, so we need to find ways of giving this to them," head of talent Anouska Ramsay told HR magazine.

"We do that by offering a 12-week residential training course where they are in university halls of residence. It's often their first time living away from home and that is an important skill for mobile consultants, which makes up a large part of our workforce."

A lack of employability skills was cited as one of the major hurdles employers face when recruiting entry-level talent. Ramsay said it is difficult to pinpoint where the employability problem stems from, but warned against giving young people "a hard time".

"The responsibility is with us to make sure we set our standard at the right level and are looking for the right aptitude, and passion in the people we recruit, not the finished article," she said. "Schools, parents, employers, the individual all play a role and it has to be a collaborative approach."

Ramsay said building employability skills into the school system would be a "fantastic way forward". Capgemini works with local schools to get employability into the curriculum, part of a Business in the Community project called Business Class.

The firm also offers work placement programmes and careers advice, what Ramsay describes as a "buffet of different options" to showcase employment to young people.

Another challenge Ramsay noted is for universities to ensure their curriculums match the needs of employers. She explained that university graduates with non-relevant degrees are often on a level playing field to apprentices.

She said young jobseekers can improve their prospects of finding work by gaining these skills through any method that shows employability. "Think about ways to differentiate yourself and what you can do to stand out from the crowd," she added.

"That might be using some of those things you might not think are relevant, like volunteering or a Saturday job. These things are important; they demonstrate the basic skills of employability. Put them at the front of what you do."