How Levy-Funded Apprenticeships Can Boost Dynamics 365 Skills

By Lewis Cunningham, Technical Writer at Firebrand Training

In early November 2016, Microsoft revealed an updated cloud platform that combines previous Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) products, Dynamics AX and Dynamics NAV, with Dynamics CRM.

The evolved Dynamics product, Dynamics 365, improves enterprise functions with an evolving SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offering that scales to support the client. However, the benefits of Dynamics 365 are being weighed down by an increasing industry trend: a shortage of both Microsoft Dynamics specialists and cloud skills.

As Dynamics move to a uniform, cloud-based, platform, companies across the UK need to take the initiative and create in-house Dynamics specialists while improving their existing cloud skills through apprenticeships.

Microsoft are leading by example. Last year they announced plans to improve cloud skills through the creation of over 30,000 digital apprenticeships by 2020:

Apprentices play a critical role in many UK businesses and our economy… Their enthusiasm to secure the necessary skills and experience to prepare themselves for a brighter future not only shapes their lives but ours, too” Says Cindy Rose , Microsoft UK Chief Executive.

Microsoft Dynamics apprenticeships are an effective way to close your digital skills gap and prepare your organisation for a movement toward the cloud with Dynamics 365.


The gap is growing

A study by the British Chambers of Commerce found that 75% of UK businesses are suffering from a general lack of digital skills. Combine this with the digital economy growing 50% faster than the traditional economy and it’s not hard to understand why upskilling your workforce with cloud skills is absolutely vital.

Businesses need to keep up with their surroundings: “90% of all future jobs will require digital skills and… the UK will need more than 1.2 million new technical and digitally skilled people by 2022 to satisfy future skills needs” explains Bill Mitchell, Director of Education at BCS.

As an employer using Dynamics 365, the emphasis is on keeping up-to-date with the cloud-based changes, especially as the UK cloud adoption rate reaches 88%. UK businesses can actively prevent a further increase in their digital skills gap by spending their Apprenticeship Levy on certified Microsoft Dynamics apprenticeships.


Use your Levy to tackle the cloud skills gap

The Apprenticeship Levy isn’t just useless jargon, it impacts the amount of digital training your employees can benefit from. The levy is a payroll tax set at 0.5% of your company’s wage bill. It was introduced as part of the government’s target to reach 3 million apprentices by 2020. Your company only pays if your wage bill exceeds £3 million and you’ll be able to reclaim levy contributions as digital vouchers to pay for apprenticeship training.

Using your levy on Microsoft Dynamics apprenticeships is a great way to close your cloud skills gap by introducing localised Dynamics specialists. According to a study by the Open University, only 8% of levy funds have been withdrawn for training. The levy investment is inaccessible to you unless you choose to access the funds through apprenticeships. Investing in Dynamics apprenticeships will improve the operation and understanding of your cloud-based CRM and ERP at all levels of the organisation.


All levels of your organisation are affected

A recent study by Barclays found that only 23% of workers aged 35 to 54 had the confidence to keep up with an increasingly technological working environment. The study also found a reoccurring mismatch between the demand for worker’s skills and what level of skill they actually possessed. Overall, 63% of jobs advertised required “above basic” digital skills while at the same time, over 43% of people believed they did not have these skills.

When addressing the results of the study, Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of Barclays UK, responded: “Where you live, how old you are, what you do and your education level have an impact on your digital abilities and confidence. Digital skills can boost finances and everyone deserves the opportunity to benefit.”

It’s not just new staff that are the focus for skill development. There must be an emphasis on Microsoft Dynamics training at all levels of the organisation.


What Dynamics apprenticeships are available to you

The good news is that companies can spend their levy on Dynamics apprenticeships without having to worry about age or seniority restrictions. This means that managers can have the same Dynamics training as their employees to better position your department around cloud technologies.

Microsoft have partnered with Firebrand to provide three unique apprenticeships that are tailored to Dynamics learning:

  • Microsoft Dynamics Infrastructure Technician learn how to support internal and external customers, using tools to problem solve and troubleshoot non-routine problems, with a focus on Microsoft Dynamics technologies.
  • Microsoft Dynamics Network Engineer - learn how to design, install, maintain and support communication networks within an organisation or between multiple organisations, whilst specialising in Microsoft Dynamics.

These programmes provide apprentices with the skills they need to manage 365 cloud technology in an organisation. Each apprenticeship programme also includes official Dynamics training and certifications.


Firebrand is the UK's leader in accelerated learning, providing the fastest, most comprehensive and industry-relevant training to IT and digital professionals at every stage of their careers since 2001. Over 68,000 students have received the knowledge and credentials that businesses need, faster than any other provider through our proven accelerated learning model. Once in our training centre, students eat, sleep and breathe new learning, gaining as much from the experiences of their classmates as from their Firebrand instructor’s expertise. This immersive approach helps develop knowledgeable, practical and collaborative professionals who are ready to accelerate their careers in IT through a commitment to lifelong learning.