WhiteHat, a tech startup building an outstanding alternative to university through apprenticeships, has today announced a $16m fundraise and substantial growth, with over 250 employers including BP, Facebook, Salesforce, Publicis, Santander, Kantar, Bulb and Clifford Chance now operating WhiteHat apprenticeship programmes. The Series A round was led by Index Ventures with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Salesforce Ventures.
The funding will enable WhiteHat to open up its apprenticeship programmes to a new cohort of top employers looking to plug their skills gap, hire diverse and high potential talent and develop existing employees. Currently available in London, WhiteHat will soon begin its expansion across the UK, starting with Leeds.
Founded in 2016, WhiteHat matches ambitious non-graduate talent to professional services and digital roles, then delivers innovative and job-relevant applied learning over the course of their apprenticeship. WhiteHat has over 1000 career starters applying to join their elite apprenticeship programmes every week. Recognising this, many of the best employers are ditching a degree as a prerequisite for employment, enabling them to tap less traditional talent pools in their bid to get ahead of the competition.
With the rising cost of higher education, the opportunity to work for such world-class employers is a compelling choice for many young people.
“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 Euan Blair Co-founder and CEO of WhiteHat.
“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 1. With no debt, no wasted time and the opportunity to learn relevant and desirable skills, this is the future of work and education.”
Companies based in England with a payroll of over £3m a year or more can take advantage of their Apprentice Levy to fund these apprenticeship programmes.
WhiteHat offers apprenticeships in digital marketing and social media, software development, project management, data analysis, customer success, accounting and leadership and management. Alongside their job, apprentices receive high impact applied learning, delivered by WhiteHat through expert coaching sessions and access to cutting edge content from partnerships with leading providers such as General Assembly, Flatiron School, Mind Gym and Grant Thornton. Participants also join a thriving online and offline community of other apprentices where they get access to societies, socials, meetups, networking events, sports teams and the Apprentice Hacktivist and Influencer programmes.
“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.” said Sophie Adelman, Co-founder & President of WhiteHat. “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.”
WhiteHat has over 750 apprentices, 65% of which are from BAME backgrounds and this month launched its free coding summer school for young women across London looking to pursue careers in software engineering. Almost 50% of WhiteHat apprentices have claimed free school meals, an indicator of social deprivation.
“Every year hundreds of thousands of talented, ambitious and driven young people enter the workforce, but because they don’t have a university degree, they are often overlooked by top employers. WhiteHat is making sure that doesn’t happen,” said Danny Rimer, partner at Index Ventures who joins the board of WhiteHat. “The high level of interest from employers is a reflection of the urgent need for talent and the quality of the programme the WhiteHat team has built. We are excited to work with Sophie and Euan to get as many of these talented young people as possible into exciting and rewarding jobs, kickstarting their careers.”
Partner at Lightspeed Ventures and member of WhiteHat’s board, Nakul Mandan said, “WhiteHat, via its apprenticeship marketplace and training platform, is redefining what it means to get a great start to your career, and is doing it with a business model that democratizes access to that great start for the youth of today. Equally, it is providing employers a real way to solve the skills gap issue that almost all large enterprises face. It’s not surprising to us that some of the world’s best companies are choosing WhiteHat as their primary apprenticeship provider. We’re thrilled to have partnered with Euan and Sophie early in their journey, and excited for the positive impact the company is making.”
“As the pace of digital transformation accelerates, there is a pressing need for reskilling and job training. Salesforce Ventures is excited to invest in WhiteHat as they democratise access to the best careers through an innovative apprenticeship model, allowing more opportunities for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Alex Kayyal, Partner at Salesforce Ventures. “At Salesforce, we are committed to workforce development through a diverse set of initiatives, including the apprentices we’ve on-boarded at Salesforce here in London.”