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Lessons from the Telharmonium

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: Employer surveys, Further Education, Growth

Much of our working life today is thanks to the Victorians:

  • the way we light our offices (the electric light bulb was patented in 1879),
  • how we get to work (the pedal-driven bicycle was invented in 1838),
  • being able to stream music through your smartphone on the way to work (welcome to the Telharmonium, invented by Thaddeus Cahill).

You might think music service ‘Spotify’ was the first to stream music to your phone, but the Victorian Telharmonium pipped them to the post.

Making use of telephone networks, the midtown Manhattan machine transmitted music to restaurants, hotels and homes around the city. Subscribers were connected to a 24-hour service where two musicians played keyboard-like devices to supply music “on tap at the telephone”.

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Great ideas have to start somewhere, and often not where you thought.

Take apprenticeships for example.

Apprenticeships may feel like the latest political buzzword, but these earn-and-learn programmes have been solving skills problems for centuries. Combining earning and learning was developed in the middle-ages, where young people would be employed as an apprentice for between 5 and 9 years, to develop skills in traditional crafts and guilds. It’s an excellent idea when you think about it: equipping young people with the skills employers need; building confidence, experience, and providing fresh insights and talent to business to manage tomorrow’s challenges.

The current government has certainly recognised their value, and has pledged to create 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020, equating to a 36% increase over the life of the Parliament.

Here’s the point. Just as Spotify did with its music streaming service, you too can exploit current-day innovations to make apprenticeships really amazing.  Why now?  For one, the level of data you have access to has changed the game. We now have data on what vacancies employers are struggling to fill, what skills they need to fill them and what impact skills-shortages have to productivity and performance – all broken down to relevant local geographic and sectoral levels.

Apprenticeships are about planning for the future – they’re all about training up the next generation.  But future planning is impossible without the right data. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) recently launched local resources from the Employer Skills Survey 2015 (ESS15). With over 75,000 interviews in England, the survey allows you to explore issues at the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and even at Local Authority Level. With this level of intelligence, you can gather a detailed picture about your local area’s challenges, and meet the demands through tailored apprenticeship provision.

Employers in your area have told us about the skills challenges they face, it only makes sense to use that data to ensure young people have the skills needed to get on in work and life.

So, similar to Spotify, you can build on long-term wisdom and revitalise it – in the case of apprenticeships, exploiting the vast array of labour market information (LMI) to build programmes of excellence that benefit employers and apprentices, boost business performance and fuel productivity growth.

Get intelligence on your area here.

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