London-based WhiteHat raises $4 million to build an alternative to university through apprenticeships

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WhiteHat, a startup aiming to build an outstanding alternative to university through high quality apprenticeships, has today announced a $4 million seed round led by Silicon Valley investor Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Village Global, ShopTalk, and business angels.

Launched in 2016 and headquartered in London, WhiteHat is challenging the idea that university is the only path to the best careers. They match ambitious non-graduate talent with apprenticeships across a wide range of sectors – including tech, professional services, finance and retail – and deliver top-class applied learning in partnership with General Assembly, Flatiron School, and other leading content providers.

Apprenticeships are becoming an increasingly important part of the UK employment landscape with over 400,000 people starting an apprenticeship in 2018. WhiteHat aims to lead regarding high quality apprenticeships for those starting their careers, and is already working with some of the most exciting companies in the UK, including Google, Facebook, WeWork, Salesforce, Warner Bros and Burberry. The apprenticeships last a minimum of 12 months and provide aspirational opportunities in digital marketing and social media, software engineering, accounting and finance, leadership, and business administration.

WhiteHat co-founder Euan Blair stated: “We’re changing the way young people from all backgrounds are able to access the best careers and are partnering with Lightspeed to scale this global vision for the future of work. Every developed economy is facing a skills shortage, compounded by universities not adapting to the changing nature of the labour market and, with dramatically rising university costs, students are increasingly looking for alternatives. Finally, nearly every major company in the tech, creative and professional services space is trying to figure out how to introduce more diversity into their organisations.”

Co-founder Sophie Adelman added: “For the first time we’re presenting a compelling alternative to university both in terms of career prospects and earning potential via apprenticeships. As we look to the future of work, employers are understanding that applied learning is more useful than academic knowledge. There’s an immediate opportunity in the UK for a better approach to apprenticeships, driven by the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017: every single employer with offices in the UK and a payroll of £3m a year or more, needs to spend 0.5% on apprenticeship training or forfeit the money as a tax. At WhiteHat we provide an effective way to deploy their levy funds by developing a diverse pipeline of talent who will become the future leaders in their organisations. This enables companies to future-proof their businesses with the skills they need and will increase retention and employee satisfaction over the long term.”

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