Training organisations will launch a new Modern Apprenticeship (MA) scheme in a matter of weeks, in the latest bid to ease the UK's shortage of IT professionals.
The controversial programme has been redesigned to make it more relevant to employers and candidates, following concerns that youngsters are dropping out before they complete their qualifications.
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The move follows research by Microsoft and IDC, which shows the UK will be short of 300,000 IT professionals within three years.
The IT National Training Organisation (ITNTO), is pressing the Government to back the MA with a campaign to encourage IT departments to train more young people.
"We need to show youngsters what IT is about. If we get 1% or 2% new blood then we'll have a big impact on the skills shortage," said Gordon Greaves, director of ITNTO, which administers the MA.
EDS, IBM, Norwich Union and the Royal Bank of Scotland are among those backing the scheme, which has attracted 6,000 youngsters over the past three years.
The scheme offers school leavers and graduates training in IT skills over three or four years, through a combination of work experience and classroom training. Companies can claim subsidies if they take on youngsters under the age of 25.
But the scheme, currently under review, ran into controversy after it emerged that a significant number of youngsters starting MAs are failing to complete their training.
The ITNO believes a combination of poor training, and growing pressure on employers is having a significant effect.
The new scheme is designed to appeal directly to employers by combining work experience, NVQs, and Key Skills qualifications with training in vendor-specific skills.
In future candidates will be selected more carefully to ensure they are capable of completing the course. Candidates, employers and external training providers will be expected to work more closely to develop suitable training programmes.
ITNTO claims its revised IT Modern Apprenticeship, due to be presented to the Government next month, could make significant inroads into the skills shortage, providing it receives the right Government backing.