Apprenticeship toolkit

Developing apprentices’ digital skills and capabilities

Apprentices need to be competent in using industry-standard technologies and to know how to use technology effectively to support their employability and future career progression.

‘The value of digital capability in economic terms for the UK’ is acknowledged as ‘enormous’ (make or break: the UK’s digital future (pdf)) and the contribution digital technologies make to our wider lives is also significant.

“Digital technology is reshaping how today’s society thinks, works, learns and develops. The digital economy is the economy and this presents us with major challenges and opportunities – for productivity, national competitiveness and how individuals participate in society. Our success will be measured by how well we are able to prepare people to keep pace with the rapidly changing nature of technology.”

Liz Williams, chair of the digital skills qualifications review steering group, director of tech literacy and education programmes for BT Group and board member of The Tinder Foundation, (review of publicly funded digital skills qualifications, February 2016)

Regardless of their chosen industry, apprentices will need to know how to use common productivity tools; to search for, manage, record and analyse data; to use and create digital artefacts; and to know how to protect their digital identity and operate safely online. They also need to develop the digital confidence and resilience to maintain their vocational expertise and enhance their employability prospects in a constantly evolving digital environment.

The learner profile of our digital capabilities framework looks at some of the digital capabilities learners are likely to need in greater detail.

Our building digital capability project offers a range of tools and services aimed at supporting providers as they develop the digital capabilities of their learners and staff.

Examples of effective practice

Apprentices learn digital skills such as reading, recording and responding to information, accessing and interacting with online systems, building a portfolio of evidence, reflecting on progress and feel empowered to take ownership of their learning progress.

Nova Training has developed an e-ILP within its own bespoke e-portfolio system. As soon as the apprentice, assessor and employer agree the programme of learning, the system starts to track progress, turning the ILP into a live record of the learner journey. The e-portfolio system helps apprentices take ownership of their learning and improve their progression.

At City of Glasgow College stonemasonry apprentices used Microsoft Word and Publisher files saved as Adobe PDF files and hosted on the cloud via Microsoft OneDrive to reflect on their work and present outcomes for employers.

Learners collaborate, network and learn from, and with, other apprentices, industry representatives and other stakeholders to form wide personal learning networks.

The Collab Group is developing an innovative, online, collaborative platform to support high-quality, impactful apprenticeship provision. The platform will enable apprentices, studying at different colleges across the UK, to work together in collaborative projects designed by employers. The projects will develop apprentices’ digital and online collaboration skills and contribute to work-readiness by going beyond basic digital literacy skills.

St Helens College provided foundation degree students with LinkedIn accounts so they could showcase their achievements and form relationships with potential employers before they left college. Students are gaining an understanding of how to use social media for professional networking, are improving their communication and digital skills and developing their CV writing skills.

Learners are using digital technologies to experience learning and skills development in otherwise hard-to-access experiences.

Bridgwater and Taunton College is part of the National College for Nuclear (NCfN) and is developing an innovative curriculum based on a physical replica of a nuclear reactor and VR simulation (PRACTICE). This will enable learners to work on ‘live’ projects in an environment of safe experimentation and failure, gaining higher level technical skills.

Fusion48 supports the improvement of care for people living with frailty and complex needs through workforce development, service evaluation and redesign. To increase the reach and impact of their work, they are developing an innovative Virtual Reality based learning product called FrailtySIM. This product is designed to allow staff working in social care services to increase their knowledge of frailty, develop empathy, and sharpen observational skills in a realistic environment.