A skills shortage in technology remains a top priority for CIOs in expanding their IT teams.

According to research, 44% of organisations are expecting to increase their IT team size in 2017, according to Harvey Nash. CIOs can develop a training programme or operate an apprenticeship scheme to increase IT headcount. CIO UK looks at why businesses should expand their IT team through an apprenticeship scheme to get ahead of their competitors.

Why CIOs should operate an apprenticeship scheme: Skills shortage

The UK Government plans to fund apprenticeship schemes in England, by 2017. An apprenticeship scheme for businesses can bring important digital skills in-house to the organisation.

Almost two thirds of CIOs are increasing their IT headcount, according to the members of the 2016 CIO 100.

CIOs are finding difficulty in retaining the IT talent they need to support their business digital strategy. The skill shortage will lead to organisations falling behind in keeping up with the pace of technology.

The competition for IT talent has increased with 74% of the 2016 CIO 100 running an apprenticeship scheme or planning to develop a trainning programme for 2016/2017.

Organisations which are planning to start up an apprenticeship scheme include CIO 100 companies -Arthur J. Gallagher & CO, William Tracey and Raymond Brown Construction.

Technology is evolving with specialist roles needed in IT. The use of apprenticeship schemes can expose future employees to gain experience and further knowledge of the role.

CIO Geoff Connell was previously the CIO of Newham and Havering Council, until August this year, before moving to Norfolk County Council as the Head of IT.

Speaking to CIO UK last year Connell discussed the range of schemes he had implemented during his time as as a CIO at N&H council.

He said: "We get kids who are on a gap year, from schools and universities for work experience and place them across different areas of the council. It's a win-win situation getting the kids in who don't have work experience, but are inquisitive bringing fresh ideas and energy."

Newham Borough Council is hoping to save around £91 million by 2019 with the recruiting of younger talent.

He continued: "The bottom line is that we have to recruit younger talent because we can't bring in top-skilled people from various different areas who do not have the necessary skills. I think it is an exciting place for people to come and learn their trade."

Why CIOs should operate an apprenticeship scheme: Competition

The demand for talent is evolving with businesses being in competition against large corporations for digital skills.

The demand for experience in emerging trends such as Big Data, cloud and cybersecurity is increasing. CIOs need to research what the business can offer to future employees and how they can get ahead of its competitors.

Essex County Council has established an apprenticeship programme to solve the talent shortage.

CIO David Wilde at Essex County Council spoke as part of the CIO 100 2016 edition about the benefits of the council's recent training programme.

He said: “In terms of recruitment the programme drew in younger people with social and disability challenges, that have helped develop effective work skills."

Apprenticeship programmes can offer younger talent the opportunity to gain experience and further their digital knowledge in the IT sector.

He continued: “The apprentices either remain with us as employees or find future employment in IT elsewhere.”

Why CIOs should operate an apprenticeship scheme: IT investments

IT budgets are increasing with 45% of businesses helping shape the digital strategy.

CIOs are dealing with an increased budget size compared to 2015 and are more likely to be impacted by the skills shortage. The budget increase can remain a challenge for CIOs having an overall strain on the business model, according to Harvey Nash.

CIOs need to communicate to fellow executives of the digital shortage through making investments in apprenticeship schemes. The value of IT talent is crucial in aligning technology with the business strategy.

CIO Mark Ridley at Reed has recently created an apprenticeship scheme which sees his role hiring outside of the traditional graduate pool. Speaking as part of the CIO 100 Ridley discussed his strategy for hiring emerging IT talent.

He said: “We have an ‘agile apprentice’ scheme, taking us to a total of four apprentices each year… favouring a younger and more diverse team. We also actively support Codebar, a technology-training organisation primarily aimed at creating a diverse pool of tech talent in the UK.”

Operating an apprenticeship scheme will lead to businesses building their in-house IT teams through staff development and recruitment.

CIO Claudette Jones at Edinburgh City Council has recently hired a number of apprentices to join its team. Speaking to CIO UK she discusses how the digital apprentices are impacting on the infrastructure.

She said: “The hiring is a change from our normal graduate programme. The apprentices have reduced the average age of the team and are willing to be very hands-on. We also have targets around SME involvement, with new jobs in the city and modern apprenticeships.”

Executives should invest in IT talent with technology driving success in the business strategy. CIOs can analyse and report to the executives on what the digital department needs to develop on in terms of the business growth and value.

The investment in an apprenticeship scheme will increase the organisations IT headcount with the sufficient training needed to keep the business up to date with the pace of technology.