GetMyFirstJob: Navigating a tricky apprenticeship market

Just before Christmas last year we made our fourth investment in GetMyFirstJob (“GMFJ”), an innovative platform helping young people find the right apprenticeships for them. In this blog we talk about why we continue to support GMFJ and share some thoughts about the wider apprenticeships market.

“I’ve finished my apprenticeship in marketing, and have now started a Degree Apprenticeship in Management,” said Jenny.

A few months earlier, she had registered on GMFJ website and expressed an interest in marketing and business administration. She applied for a few vacancies and about a week later was called by a recruiter to let her know about a marketing apprenticeship nearby. She had a telephone interview, an interview and then got the job.

For Nesta Impact Investments, GMFJ’s impact on the speed and quality of matching apprenticeship candidates to vacancies was a key part of our decision to keep investing in the business. We believe that matching young people with apprenticeships more effectively could help to reduce the number of young people that are NEET (Not in Education or Employment).

We first invested in the business in 2014 and have seen the company transformed in the intervening period.

More and more young people are signing up with GMFJ; the company will shortly process its millionth application, a staggering achievement for a business that is less than six years old. GMFJ is also working with increasing numbers of employers and training providers to help them find apprentices in a time frame that works for them.

Our latest investment will enable the company to continue its growth into 2018 and hopefully beyond.

Sharp fall in apprenticeship starts

While GMFJ has had a relatively successful past 12 months, it has been a different situation in the wider apprenticeship market. In April 2017, the government introduced the apprenticeship levy, intended to incentivise companies to take on apprentices.

The result has been quite the opposite; apprenticeship starts are down over 40% in the six months since the levy was introduced. Some aspects of its introduction have been referred to an “omnishambles” - incidentally the 2012 word of the year, which will be familiar to fans of The Thick of It.      

Industry figures are concerned and have called for the government to review the legislation, not least the fact that some firms were, until recently, using the pot to send senior executives on MBAs. The government is calling for patience, believing that employers are taking time to understand the scheme before effectively deploying their pot. If apprenticeship starts don’t improve in the next quarter or two, they will find that all patience has run out.

Against this background, completing this investment round is a key success for David Allison, CEO and co-founder. "Apprenticeships are an ideal way for many young people to make the transition from school or college to their first job," he said, "but it is vital that we have a placement system that’s quick and easy to use.”

"This funding allows us to invest in our team and position the business for continued growth."

So, we’re delighted to continue supporting GMFJ, and believe that the successes to date, coupled with our investment in the company, will prove a winning formula.

For more information on GetMyFirstJob please visit www.getmyfirstjob.co.uk.