College trains for business needs

South East Essex College opened a £52m technology centre in Southend earlier this month and announced it is taking a new approach...

South East Essex College opened a £52m technology centre in Southend earlier this month and announced it is taking a new approach to teaching IT skills.

City and Guilds, foundation degree, degree and supplier qualification courses will put a strong emphasis on the softer skills required by IT departments, including communication, presentation and teamwork.

Technology centre manager Mark Waldron said, "What we teach is not just IT but the whole support role for the business. Many of the tutors have recently worked in industry, so they can bring in anecdotes and experience from real life."

Supplier qualifications can be wrapped within City and Guilds IT courses so they can attract government funding, making it cheaper and more accessible for students, since they are taught at evenings and weekends.

This means students can study for IT qualifications while they are working, and unemployed students can take supplier qualifications at no cost to themselves because they attract government subsidies.

"They do not just do the MCSE, they study soft skills such as customer service, support and project management," said Waldron.

The college teaches foundation and degree courses in network technology and internet technology. Foundation course students go on a work placement, and degree students complete projects as part of a team - reflecting the way most IT departments work, Waldron said.

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