Digital apprentices have better work ethic than graduates

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The opportunity to utilise talented digital apprentices is growing

Digital apprentices often have a better work ethic than computer science graduates, according to co-founder of The Craft Gin Club and ex-managing director of B2B publisher Contentive, Jon Hulme.

Hulme was managing director of Contentive for three years and recently left to start a monthly craft gin members club. In his three years at Contentive the business trained around 25 digital apprentices.

“[Apprentices] are very open-minded to the world of work. They come in excited to be there and without any sense of entitlement, which we saw in some of the graduates that came in,” said Hulme.

He added that graduates also often don’t have more transferable skills than their younger, non-graduate counterparts: “There’s still a disconnect between universities and employers. There’s huge demand for computer science professionals, so universities clearly aren’t delivering all that employers need,” he said.

The opportunity to utilise talented digital apprentices is therefore growing in line with disillusionment with university, said Hulme: “I think businesses would be crazy not to [take on digital apprentices], given the talent that’s out there that’s now actively questioning whether university is the right path. It’s not the case that all the best students go to university.”

He claims all businesses could benefit from taking on such apprentices: “There’s a competitive advantage to be had here. I would recommend this to organisations of any size,” said Hulme. “In this day and age if you have a digital team of 10 or 20 people you should have at least one to two apprentices in there.”

Hulme added that the lower cost of taking on apprentices compared with graduates means companies could more easily take a risk on raw potential. “There’s plenty of rough diamonds; there’s a lot of different kinds of talent out there,” he said.

Digital apprentices were highly valuable in introducing new ideas and technologies to Contentive, reported Hulme. He said he fully intends to take on tech apprentices at his new start-up.

Hulme is part of the Tech Partnership employer network, which helps set standards and the curriculum for technology and digital apprenticeships. Other companies involved include Lloyds Banking Group and IBM.

Experian analysis of Office for National Statistics and Tech Partnership data recently revealed that 42% of companies in all sectors looking to recruit tech specialists find these vacancies hard to fill.