Apprenticeship start-up WhiteHat has raised £12.8m in funding.

Founded in 2016, the London-based company offers young people an alternative to university.

The firm matches ambitious young people with digital roles and accompanying learning as an alternative to university.

Co-founded by tech entrepreneurs Sophie Adelman and Euan Blair, son of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, the firm now sees more than 1,000 people apply to the apprenticeship programmes on a weekly basis.

The latest funding round, led by Index Ventures with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures, will enable the firm to welcome a new cohort of employers, which already includes BP, Facebook, Salesforce, Bulb, and Santander.

Currently available in London, WhiteHat said it plans to make itself available across the UK. Blair told BusinessCloud last year that the firm will be “thoughtful” about its future national expansion.

“Today, if you want a great career the assumption is you go to university, but spiralling costs of higher education, lack of diversity in leadership positions, and a major global skills gap in digital and tech are all evidence that this model isn’t working,” said Blair.

“At WhiteHat we’re building an outstanding alternative to university. Our apprentices get the job they want, the training and qualifications to succeed and a coach to help them excel, all while earning from day one.

“With no debt, no wasted time and the opportunity to learn relevant and desirable skills, this is the future of work and education”.

Adelman added: “We know diversity is crucial for the success of any business. Companies have been investing in outreach and work experience but despite effort and money being spent on these initiatives, these haven’t moved the needle in increasing employee diversity.” commented Sophie, co-founder of WhiteHat alongside Blair, and president of the young company.”

“Apprenticeships provide a practical and impactful way for companies to access diverse talent pools and build the skills they need, whilst supporting social mobility and creating future leaders.”