The firm, Multiverse, has launched a £30m drive to train more than 5,000 apprentices for free over the next 12 months.
It will cover skills such as software engineering and data analytics. The training will be offered free of charge for SMEs and charities, covered using funds transferred through corporates such as Amazon, Morgan Stanley and Deloitte.
The training is funded by the government’s Levy Transfer system. All companies with payroll over £3m are required to pay a 0.5 per cent apprenticeship levy. This goes into a pot which can be spent on training costs or transferred to other organisations.
Euan Blair, son of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, talks about the drive in a presentation at the recent SME XPO to an audience of entrepreneurs. He admits sarcastically that, “My ancient history degree is as useful now as it ever was.”
Now he’s the founder of Multiverse, an apprenticeship firm which was valued at $875m last year.
He needed to study for a degree to his post-graduate scheme – investment banking at Morgan Stanley. This, along with his Masters in International Relations, were, “absolutely useless in the workplace setting I was trying to do, understanding financial markets.” He also found it odd that when he looked around it was all white people and “pretty much” all men, all from the same handful of universities. “None of us had the divine right to be there,” he says, pointing out that, since then, he’s seen no correlation between academics and job performance.
He talks of inequality in labour markets, with only four per cent of people who claimed free school meals going to a Russell Group university. Minority groups are consistently underrepresented too – tech courses are still filled with white men in a world that’s changing so rapidly. “If you walk on to a university campus, you’re still seeing the same thing as the 1960s,” he says.
“Education is a part of it,” Blair continues. “Look at representation at every level – there’s a real problem.” A difficulty in changing a troubled model is a key issue. Blair spoke at an annual conference of university vice chancellors and was shocked at the extent to which they all agreed with him that. “We all learn in different ways,” he observes. “[University] shouldn’t be the only option.”
“A shot of learning at the start of your career isn’t going to last 50 years,” he says, stressing that there needs to be a muscle of continuous learning and professional development.
Find out more about the apprenticeship opportunities at Multiverse‘s website.