Neville Algar, Head of Education at Ignite Training, discusses the major trends he anticipates for the apprenticeship space in 2024
This year will see significant change across the whole learning and development sector – and apprenticeships are no exception.
As ever, businesses in all sectors strive to use the tools at their disposal to boost efficiency. In the modern day, this means harnessing new technologies, data analytics and ensuring the skillsets within a business’s workforce is fit for a rapidly changing world.
2023 was the year AI came to the forefront of public consciousness as a fact of life, and promises to be as profound a societal change as the industrial revolution.
In 2024, we will start to see the transformative impact of Large Language Models (LLMs) like ChatGPT within the workplace.
It will affect every aspect of the apprenticeship space – from the design and build of learning modules and programmes to their delivery.
LLMs and AI are here to stay. It is essential for apprenticeship providers to truly understand and embrace this to enhance their offering rather than see them as a threat.
If utilised correctly, AI could bring a range of benefits to the space, by making learning programmes more dynamic, engaging and efficient, and by empowering learners with personalised feedback and providing a springboard for further research into their discipline.
The pace and scale of the changes outlined above means that proficiency in digital and technical skills like data analysis, software development, and digital marketing will become increasingly vital.
Yet, research indicates well over half of the UK workforce have no formal training in workplace digital skills. Indeed, the estimated cost to the UK economy of the digital skills shortage runs into the billions of pounds.
As a business, we need to ensure our digital offering is front and centre of our business development plans and apprenticeship provisions. .
Soft skills and person-centred learning
Accompanying the rise in disruptive technologies and AI at such a rapid pace as well as the normalisation of hybrid working models is the emergence of a soft skills gap.
This is most notable in the younger demographic entering the workplace for the first time.
Whilst accepting that this generation of digital natives is at the forefront of embracing technology and associated business benefits, the importance of soft skills cannot be ignored.
Soft skills enable a business to ensure teams are cohesive and led by managers with the credibility and personality to motivate their teams to go the extra mile.
2024 could well see a renewed appetite for learning programmes centred on boosting communication skills, emotional intelligence, presenting, and teamwork as critical workplace competencies.
For Ignite as a business we will continue to build specific programmes of learning around these people-centric skills that are strongly evident within our apprenticeship and private sector offerings.
Another trend we expect to continue across the sector is an increased demand for bespoke learning programmes to respond to specific industry niches.
More and more employers are requesting additional modules and learning interventions that specifically relate to their business requirements or their unique culture.
As apprenticeship providers, we need to look at our design/development capability and create a new class of apprenticeship offering, potentially in the form of a blended commercial/funding model, to provide more customers with tailor-made courses.
As a business we must be nimble, flexible, and respond thoughtfully to change.
We will seek to stay ahead of the curve of change, being innovative in our approach and above all being mindful and flexible of our employers and clients’ needs.
Neville Algar, Head of Education Ignite Training