Apprenticeships are an opportunity. An opportunity for your organisation to acquire the talent you need and remain competitive. And an opportunity for apprentices to develop vital digital skills and get a head start in their chosen career. 92 percent of apprentices stay with the company they start with and remain more loyal. After all, they’ve started their career in a place that values them and helps build their skills.

Apprenticeships are becoming a very popular way into the working world. It allows young people to earn a salary and get a head-start in their careers. While doing this they are learning important skills and gaining certifications.

Learning to build a culture transformation at Microsoft PowerPoint slide.

This year, Microsoft hosted a virtual event for National Apprenticeship Week. We looked at how to build a supportive culture for a successful apprenticeship programme. We also looked at ways to democratise digital skills throughout your organisation.

Building a growth mindset in your culture

We engaged in inspiring sessions, delivered by Selina Tishler. She spoke of the history of Microsoft, starting from the beginning with Paul Allen and Bill Gates. From here, we saw the main drivers of change within Microsoft. We learnt how Satya made changes to the culture to empower employees. This shift alongside the focus of diversity and emphasis on mental health has led to a more inclusive community. This change to a ‘learn-it-all’ culture means that challenges become opportunities.

This growth mindset is key to apprentices to find their feet on this journey. It also helps organisations create passionate, excited employees who want to acheive more.

Growth mindset vs Fixed mindset

Helping apprentices succeed in the hybrid workplace

In the new world of work, people have different expectations of the workplace. This includes apprentices. It’s a reflection of their experiences with technology. This means they may expect flexible devices and tools, or a remote working policy. We know that the last year means organisations may have already started building a hybrid workplace. Microsoft and YouGov research found that almost nine out of 10 employees report that their businesses have adapted to hybrid working. But you can’t forget to ensure you adapt your apprenticeship programmes to the hybrid workplace too.

We talked to current Microsoft apprentices to get some insight into how they have faced the changing world of work. We also spoke to some managers on how they can help apprentices in the hybrid workplace.

Tips for apprentices

Tips for leaders

Building technical skills in apprentices

As I mentioned earlier, apprentices are a great way for organisations to develop technical capabilities in new technology such as AI. By utilising AI, organisations can streamline operations, discover new insights, deliver better customer experiences and more. But it’s not just important for apprentices to learn these skills. The ability to re- and upskill needs to be available to all employees – especially if you want to drive that growth mindset culture. It will make you more innovative, more competitive, more attractive to new talent and therefore – more profitable.

Despite digital acceleration in 2020, our recent report found 69 percent of UK leaders believe their organisation has a digital skills gap. Luckily, we have plenty of resources to share with organisations or people wanting to see how they can leverage AI or other technology:

Driving innovation with apprentices

At Microsoft, our apprentices and employees don’t just stop learning once they reach their certifications – they continuously upskill. This is because they live and breathe our growth mindset culture. Part of this is our work with AI for Good and how we help enterprises create better experiences. We heard from Vanessa Araújo, Microsoft Cloud Solution Architect about where the world is moving to with AI.

The AI prinicples

Vanessa spoke about the importance of responsible AI and Microsoft’s commitment to it. We learned all about what can go wrong with AI and how to mitigate those risks. Moreover, she also talked about how we all must be accountable and proactive when thinking about these concepts. Part of this is ensuring we have the digital skills and soft skills to understand how to responsibly use new technologies. In the new world of work, we will be increasingly working alongside AI. Therefore, it’s important for apprentices to learn digital and soft skills while they’re on the job. Not only to effectively do their work but be able to understand these important concepts to drive responsible innovation in the future.

We had a lot apprentices attending who were keen to understand the way in which things were moving. Vanessa told us about augmented reality and automation. How we can take advantage of low/no code solutions in Power Platform, for example, to streamline our own work without coding knowledge. Others were curious about how AI and accessibility works, and we learnt about how AI can help make interviews more accessible.

A picture of Satya with a quote on ethical AI

Helping us to achieve more

Our sessions during National Apprenticeship Week reflected the growth mindset culture of Microsoft. While we focussed on apprentices, what came through was Microsoft’s core belief that everyone is part of this journey. We collectively grew our curiosity, learnt new things, and have discovered many new opportunities with technology.

As we are optimistically looked towards the future, there’s no question that apprentices and a growth mindset will be a driving force in developing the innovation, competitive growth and resilience in our organisations.

Find out more

Learn about apprenticeships

Build your digital skills

About the authors

Headshot of Lily Mears, young girl with blonde hair, smiling at the camera

Lily is a level 6 degree apprentice working alongside a talented team in the Customer Success Unit. She’s had the opportunity work in communications, people and culture and the awards processes with her department. She’s also been able to get involved in projects outside of her job role to further her career development, such as planning a Women at Microsoft.

Headshot of Selina

Selina works in Microsoft’s Learning and Skilling department based in the UK, managing our learning programs and helping people and organisations to upskill and find their potential. She also works with our EMEA team driving engagement and D&I efforts. Selina is a Level 4 Junior Management Consultant degree apprentice and has been at Microsoft for a year and a half.