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South Yorkshire colleges offer Microsoft professional qualifications to students

Bill Goodwin
Further education colleges in South Yorkshire are to offer professional supplier qualifications alongside regular IT studies, as the region gears up to meet an anticipated growth in demand for skilled IT workers.

Ten colleges in the area plan to train up to 200 students in the Microsoft certified systems administrator (MCSA) qualification over the next 12 months, with other supplier qualifications expected to follow them.

Universities have already begun to incorporate supplier qualifications into IT degrees, but the extension of the scheme to colleges will create a wider pool of qualified IT professionals with the skills needed by employers.

The South Yorkshire Learning and Skills Council estimates that it will need to train an extra 10,000 people in mid-range IT skills over the next few years to meet the demand for skilled staff from a new high-tech business park being developed at Sheffield Hallam University.

The e-campus, an incubator for software, multimedia and other high-tech companies, will need workers with mid-range IT skills as well as IT graduates and those with more basic IT qualifications.

"We are trying to attract ICT companies to the area. We are hoping that having this skilled workforce, with people trained to engineer and technician level, will attract employers here," said Kalapan Joshi, funding manager at South Yorkshire Learning and Skills Council, which is backing the project.

Sheffield Hallam University and Microsoft will train 20 lecturers from colleges in the region. They will then go on to train youngsters in the MCSA syllabus as part of their IT national vocational qualifications. The students will be able to take the MCSA exam at a cut-price rate at Microsoft test centres.

In a separate move, Sheffield Hallam University is incorporating the MCSA exam into IT degrees. From September, the MCSA will be built into foundation and honours degrees in applied computing. Cisco and Oracle courses will follow.

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