"We originally looked at Apprenticeships as a response to addressing the skills shortage for a growing number of our Partners, especially SMEs as well as establishing a high-value new route for young people to enter the technology sector. It was hard to challenge parents, schools and young people's perceptions about apprenticeships, but once we had the Once we'd got this message across, companies really saw the value of the whole programme. "
Clearly, this ambition was helped by the way the programme was designed – with the Level 3 & 4 Apprenticeships on offer designed by and for Microsoft Partners and customers. Finding the right training partners was also key – needing to deliver national coverage with the reassurance of backing of solid Microsoft accreditation. This has been more than realised, with three out of four Apprentices and 72% of businesses saying this is what provides the core value of the programme, with a further 71% of Apprentices citing it as an invaluable safety net for the future.
5 years on, the programme has not just provided real jobs to over 7000 young people, its impact has been felt equally by the 5000 Microsoft Partners and Customers who made those opportunities available. So although the average ROI impact for each apprentice is £12,000 per year, that figure rises to a staggering £19,000 for businesses who started in 2012 or earlier.
According to Dominic Gill – it is this proven and incremental impact that explains the programme's true success with SMEs, growing from 300 apprentices placed in the first year, to the 4000 expected to join in 2015.
"We believe this research firmly demonstrates we are well on the way to achieving our two core objectives. Over 71% of companies taking on an apprentice through the Microsoft Apprenticeship Programme over the last five years were SMEs. Meanwhile, for apprentices the programme delivers up to a 38% higher salary, no doubt contributing to the 92% of them who remain with their original employer after their apprenticeship is complete. It's a win/win situation for both parties. "
The full results of the Microsoft/QA research can be found here . Meanwhile, to explain the human impact more directly, Microsoft has created two new videos where apprentices and employers explain in their own words the effect it has had on their lives and businesses.
<Every Career Counts – meet the Apprentices>
You can also view a post "Can your business afford not to hire an Apprentice?" on the Microsoft News Centre.