IT services providers sign up to apprentice scheme

UK IT service providers will take on more IT apprentices to help bridge the gap between education and the workplace as part of a government-backed scheme

UK IT service providers have agreed to take on more IT apprentices to help bridge the gap between education and the workplace, as part of a government-backed scheme.

The Ministry of Justice and private charity Business in the Community have backed the project. Nine of the biggest UK IT service providers have agreed to a charter for employing IT apprentices.

Accenture, Atos, Capgemini, CSC, Fujitsu, HP, Logica, Siemens and Steria have all signed up to the charter, which aims to help students further their careers in IT.

The companies agreed to offer standardised apprenticeships in six roles. These are software development, testing, IT support, project management, networks and business analysis.

Companies such as Accenture – which takes IT apprentices from A-level to degree level and is currently training 1300 people over two years – have schemes that meet the principles of the charter. They have now standardised the six roles to prepare for recruitment in September 2012.

By collectively re-examining their recruitment approach, they are seeking to bridge the gap between college and the workplace, encouraging more opportunities for young people and open up the industry to a more diverse pool of talent,” said Sarah Gibb, director of skills and workplace learning at Business in the Community (BITC).

“By collaborating in this way, the IT industry can more effectively address the skills gap and strengthen appeal of IT careers, particularly for women. Committing to this charter provides a consistency of approach that benefits IT industry as a whole. BITC encourages all industries to look at innovative ways they can work together to mobilise more young people into the UK workforce and so feed the roots of UK PLC’s future success.”

The charter principles mean the companies agree to:

  • Review resourcing approaches to see where opportunities can be offered to apprentices;
  • Work in partnership with National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), e-skills UK the apprenticeships workstream of the government ICT capability strategy and other supportive agencies to create a small number of nationally accredited standard entry points that can be used to provide careers advice to students at school or college and made available through e-communication channels;
  • Work together to aggregate demand enabling education partners to create efficient and cost-effective delivery models for all parties in the sector to benefit from;
  • Develop apprentice programmes to provide routes to gaining IT professional status and to supplement core skills entry points where appropriate;
  • Encourage diversity of applications into the IT service sector;
  • Ensure there are consistent standards for the IT service sector recognised by all in the sector as high quality, fit for purpose in a highly fluid skills environment and motivating as a career route for entrants at this level;
  • To promote a positive image of the IT service sector in schools and colleges;
  • To align the education and long-term career development opportunities to provide clarity and transparency for those wanting a career in IT; and 
  • To strengthen commitment to long-term career development and training of apprentices through structured career pathways.

Indian IT giant Wipro recently said it could give UK IT students training to close a perceived shortcoming in IT and engineering training in the UK.

According to The Telegraph, Wipro chairman Azim Premji offered to take UK students to India for 12 months to be trained up in software, IT and engineering.

Premji was speaking to The Telegraph at the World Economic forum in Davos. Indian IT services firm HCL also used the event to announce a plan to offer training to UK students.

In the Wipro programme, students would receive three months' classroom-based training and nine months' work-based training.

The idea emerged when Premji met Prime Minister David Cameron when he travelled to India in 2010. Premji told The Telegraph that he and Cameron had talked about education and in particular the shortcomings of IT and engineering education.

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