• Apprenticeships play key role in expansion of digital sector
  • Early adopter Ascensor is now an established apprentice firm

Leeds digital agency Ascensor is celebrating the successful growth of its Digital Apprenticeship scheme. Managing director Andrew Firth (pictured) says that apprenticeships are a key component of Ascensor’s successful performance, and six members of the 36 strong team are either apprentices, or qualified under-going an additional apprentice qualification.

Secure opportunities
Andrew adds: “I believe that our apprenticeship scheme reflects our contribution to social capital in Leeds. The city - and its digital sector - needs secure opportunities for young people, including structured training and the chance to progress.”

Ascensor was an early adopter of digital marketing apprentices and recruited their first apprentice in 2012. Andrew Firth says that modern apprenticeship schemes can still be misunderstood: “Today’s apprenticeship schemes are a far cry from the traditional craft and industrial schemes, which were thin on training provision, and unresponsive to commercial needs.

“In contrast, modern apprenticeship schemes are heavily focused on providing a progressive career route. With the support of formal training by specialist providers, today’s apprenticeships provide a structured approach to career development, including opening the door to over-25s as well as school leavers.”

Key regional role of digital
Leeds City Region is well developed as a digital hub. The region now boasts more than 100,000 people in the digital sector and contributes £6.5 billion to the county economy. This is continuing to grow.

And whilst the digital industry has developed exponentially over the past 15 years, so has the range of roles and skills required.

Andrew says: “Clients come to us to help them build quality websites and bespoke software. They need to know that we have strong capabilities. There is a range of specialist roles within our business, including marketing, technical development, QA testing and project management. Our apprentices have access to skills development in each of these areas, equipping them for the current digital market, and the organisation of the future.”

Structured skills development
Ascensor works closely with established Leeds-based training providers to support skills development for their apprentices. ESTIO support digital marketing training; Pareto provide Leadership and Management skills and The Coders Guild deliver quality assurance and testing capabilities.

Andrew Firth concludes: “For Ascensor, there are many benefits of a well-managed apprenticeship scheme. We can adapt our training to meet the needs of our business; they are very motivated to develop new skills, and we can quickly expand and upskill our team.”

Case study: Joe Bond, Level 3 Apprentice, Digital Marketing Executive, at Ascensor Digital

Joe Bond (20) is in his first year of a year-long apprenticeship, designed to equip him for a career in Digital Marketing.

Joe says: “I decided to apply for an apprenticeship with Ascensor because I was interested in getting into digital marketing, and wanted to know how to become an expert in it.

“I also wanted to earn money, and didn't want to have to deal with student debt. I felt that the digital industry rewards people with experience, rather than just qualifications, and the Ascensor apprenticeship route offers the perfect blend of skills training and experience.”