Manchester Digital has launched its first apprenticeship scheme, in a bid to reduce the skills shortage and to increase industry collaboration.

The Level 4 Software Developer apprenticeship has been developed by a number of local businesses, including Auto Trader, which have helped shape the curriculum.

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The organisation is looking to take on around 15 apprentices in year one, which starts next month.

“Industry is crying out for a well-thought-through apprenticeship scheme and, created through a mix of member and developer input, we’re confident this one has the perfect mix of technical and soft-skill training,” said Alison Ross, customer experience and operations director at Auto Trader.

“We’ve already seen some great candidates, demonstrating the talent and skill we already have in the region – it’s now the responsibility of industry to ensure this is properly optimised and nurtured.”

According to Manchester Digital’s 2016 skills audit, 65% of businesses said they’d struggle to find developers, while 44% had been forced to inflate salaries to compete.

“After 18-months our students will be autonomous developers, equipped with the necessary skills to enter and succeed in the workforce. The severity of the skills shortage across the North is something which can’t be ignored. It’s something we can only tackle through collaboration and sustained effort into growing our own talent, to ensure we have a proper pipeline in place for the years ahead,” added Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital.