Software provider Advanced has pledged to introduce 60-70 apprenticeships per year focused on developing digital skills.

Ahead of the new apprenticeship levy which will be introduced from 1st April, the firm announced that it will have an apprenticeship fund of £500,000 per annum as it looks to support its strategy of attracting local talent to its regional hubs.

Advanced, which has a head office in Berkshire, has transformed its business over the last year to commit to these regional hubs and has found certain areas challenging in the search for suitable digital talent.

It has opened a major hub in Birmingham while a second is due to be opened on Friday in Knutsford, Cheshire.

Advanced CEO Gordon Wilson said building a more digitally skilled workforce is the secret to success for both Advanced and the Government, which has ambitions around its industrial strategy to drive sustainable growth across the UK.

“The lack of up-to-date digital skills represents a significant risk, essentially throttling digital transformation success and threatening to hold back business prosperity,” he said.

“As a leading supplier of technology solutions and services, we have a responsibility to ensure we constantly refresh the skills within our workforce.

“Using the apprenticeship levy to focus on precisely this will not only support our goals but will also deliver digital career opportunities around our regional hubs.”

According to Paul Bason, director of digital Innovation at Manchester Metropolitan University, there are significant regions that have a dearth of the right skills despite the fact that the digital sector in the UK is growing at a faster rate than in any other G20 economy.

Advanced is already a part of the West Midlands digital community supporting its flagship regional hub at the Mailbox in Birmingham and is looking to take an active role in the development of the Northern Powerhouse, which already has an active community looking to address the North-South divide around technical skills.

It is holding a roundtable debate with prominent leaders from across the North West region – including BusinessCloud deputy editor Jonathan Symcox – on 24th March to debate how businesses, academics and the Government can work together to address these issues.

Advanced’s technical training of apprentices will be delivered by QA Training and will commence from May 2017.

Advanced is a Sunday Times Top Track 250 Company 2016 and was ranked in the Deloitte UK Fast 50 which recognises the 50 fastest growing technology companies in the UK and a winner of the Tech Company of the Year in PwC’s UK Tech Awards in 2014.