When Coronavirus hit and we went into full lockdown, LDN Apprenticeships had to rapidly pivot to delivering apprenticeships completely remotely. Before March of this year, all of our apprentices would spend considerable amounts of time in our classrooms with their Skills Coaches. In the wake of the pandemic, that picture is very different for us and for the education sector in general.
Across the country, schools, universities, further education institutions and education businesses of all shapes and sizes have been forced to embrace digital learning in some form. During the early days of lockdown, this meant classroom provision being almost entirely wiped out and replaced with online learning.
We all hope that life and learning will return to some sort of normality in the not-too-distant future. But even when that day comes, it is undeniable that digital learning, with all of the flexibility it offers to students and educators alike, will continue to be at the heart of any form of education. Our learning will surely become a complex blend of in-person interactions, on-demand learning content and remote training sessions.
It is this fundamental shift which caused me to start thinking about the skills that are required to create high quality digital learning programmes. We’ve only recently started to bring some of this work in house at LDN Apprenticeships and the complexity of creating, distributing and maintaining high quality content has quickly become apparent to us. Surely as education institutions up and down the country start to professionalise their Digital Learning function, the demand for talent and therefore for training, will increase?
As an apprenticeship person through and through, I had to start asking … Where does one learn the skills required to become a digital learning professional? Is there a recognised industry qualification which helps people to break into the industry? Are there any established career pathways into careers in digital learning?
These questions led me to a conversation with Andrew Welsh, Director of Digital Learning at Instinct. Andrew and I had a wide-ranging conversation about the digital learning space, and I was delighted that he didn’t laugh me off our zoom call when I suggested, “perhaps someone needs to create an apprenticeship programme specifically for the digital learning sector.”
At LDN Apprenticeships, we’ve created apprenticeships to solve specific industry problems on a number of occasions. Our first initiative was called Tech City Stars – a project which helped young people from Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets to find jobs in the tech cluster in east London. More recently, we have launched the only apprenticeship for the Publishing Industry as well as one for the world-renowned CRM platform, Salesforce.com.
Without wanting to write a promotional piece, I genuinely would like to start a conversation with the Digital Learning Community about this. Is an apprenticeship programme, designed specifically to support businesses and teams in this space, something that would be well received and well used? To my mind, it would solve a number of problems both for the sector and for the economy as a whole. To name just a few benefits, such a programme could:
- create opportunities for young people to secure jobs in a resilient, growing sector of the economy
- bolster the ability of the UK education sector to produce excellent digital learning content
- solidify a pipeline of early talent that would feed the digital learning industry and fuel its growth
- accelerate learning in the early stage of digital learning careers making junior talent more productive, more quickly.
These are just a few benefits that we have seen in our current apprenticeships, which I am sure would be replicated in an apprenticeship for the digital learning sector.
Often, initiatives like this fall by the wayside because people just don’t have time to give them the love and attention they deserve. Fortunately, this is what we do at LDN Apprenticeships, so we will make time!
If you are interested in this idea and want to get involved, then please do get in touch with me. We will be seeking to facilitate a meeting of interested parties in late October 2020. And of course, your thoughts and comments in response to this post would be hugely appreciated.
Simon is the Founder and CEO of LDN Apprenticeships and is passionate about helping young people to find jobs they love and secure their future.
In addition to the information in this article, if you run a small business in this sector, you may be interested to read about the government’s KickStart programme.