12/12/2013 08:23 GMT | Updated 11/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Developing a Motivated and Innovative Workforce Through Apprenticeships

Having a sense of the value of Apprenticeships is becoming increasingly important to businesses. For our organisation, the advantage of Apprenticeships goes beyond the view that they are a cost effective resource; they bring innovation, inspiration and energy to our teams, invigorating our approach to work. Within our business they have made us think in new ways about how we engage with our employees to build a sustainable and motivated talent base.

Over the last three years, we have employed over 300 advanced and higher apprentices across the UK, developing our workforce capability and skills in Software Development. For us the beauty of the Apprenticeship is in our ability to tailor our training so that there is true alignment between our business need for technology savvy and innovative IT professionals and the training and educational requirements throughout the apprenticeship. For the apprentices, there is no doubt that being paid to deliver work that goes directly towards gaining a qualification is a real advantage.

We have been employing advanced apprentices since 2005 and in 2011 we decided to radically enhance our approach by also offering a Higher Apprenticeship and Sponsored Degree in Software Development . We realised that there were a number of school leavers considering whether university was the right option for them and, coupled with a strong business need for trainee software developers, we could see an ideal opportunity to grow our talent base further.

Since 2005, our apprentices have consistently and swiftly demonstrated their ability to be in project teams with clients, delivering value to our business. In eight years, the apprentices we have employed have always been incredibly enthusiastic and offered us a different take on life. By introducing apprentices you introduce to your business fresh new ways of doing things and this brings new ideas and ways of working. Already many of our apprentices are on track to progress very quickly - they really are the cornerstone of talent for the organisation.

So how did we get started as we set about exploring Apprenticeships? When we were first considered the prospect of Higher Apprenticeships, our first port of call was the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) - they helped us define what it was we needed and to explore the options available in training partners to achieve this. Their advice and the access we had to their network was invaluable and helped us in shaping our apprenticeship scheme. As the Higher Apprenticeship in Software Development was not well defined we had to set the programme up pretty much from scratch and we've since been able to help other employers set their Apprenticeships up as well. We advertise all of our Apprenticeships on the online service provided by NAS and not only has the number of apprentices recruited been increasing every year, but the calibre of candidates is also consistently high - leading to a number of business benefits.

Apprentices at Capgemini can expect to achieve qualifications such as a City & Guilds Diploma in IT and Telecoms or Certificate in IT Systems and Principles, and after completing their Apprenticeship they will embark upon a structured career path within the company and have the opportunity to step onto a fully sponsored degree. We have a clear, detailed career path laid out for apprentices, which is why we over 90% of them stay with us. Our retention rate is a good sign of the engagement and commitment that you get from having a mutually beneficial programme where both parties benefit from the investment made.

We will continue to expand and develop Apprenticeships in 2014 and this will be the first year we've recruited equal numbers of both apprentices and graduates. We expect to see this trend continue as our business becomes more familiar with the advantages that apprentices bring.

We know that there are many routes to having a successful career, so broadening the entry level routes to encompass graduate and apprenticeship entry points allows us to ensure those with the right potential are part of Capgemini's future and success.

To find out more about the business benefits of Apprenticeships, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600 or visit the website