A different path

Mark Jeffers, Accenture Ireland

The search for talent is prompting changes in hiring practices

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23 January 2017 | 0

The ‘War for Talent’ is a well-worn cliché but like most clichés is true, and never more so than in the technology sector in Dublin in 2016. As the world becomes increasingly digital, the pool of employers hiring people with technology skills has widened beyond the well-known technology companies to other industries, and the public sector.

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This is the environment in which Accenture is operating today. We employ more than 2,000 people in Ireland, and we are still growing, having announced 450 new hires earlier in 2016. We now have a campus in Dublin’s Silicon Docks which includes our newly-opened Centre for Innovation, the core Ireland client business and Accenture Corporate Services, responsible for Accenture’s internal operations globally.

Our hiring practices over the years have generally focussed on graduate recruitment programmes and traditional channels. But as the workforce responds to the new digital norms and as millennials join the ranks of the employed, things are shifting. As with so much else in this brave new world, relying on the traditional recruitment channels is no longer enough.

It is against this backdrop that we began working with Fast-track to IT (FIT) on its ICT Associate Professional (ICTAP) programme, which aims to attract job seekers from different backgrounds into entry-level roles in the technology and communications sectors. Our partnership with FIT is longstanding through our work in Corporate Social Responsibility. Our ‘Skills to Succeed’ Corporate Citizenship initiatives seek to advance employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for individuals. We work with our strategic partners locally, such as FIT, to create lasting solutions aimed at closing employment gaps. We are realising these goals in collaboration with FIT through their #FUTUREs programme and the ICTAP programme.

“The programme has people with good skillsets but who would not necessarily fall into the graduate category and so FIT is helping us effectively broaden our capacity to access top talent. We are getting very good people who are reskilling in technology and are looking to take a different career path”

FIT developed the ICTAP programme following a skills audit of jobs in the ICT sector in 2014 which showed that 75% of technology industry companies need to fill entry-level roles. It has successfully piloted ICTAP with several participating companies as well as Accenture.

The two-year programme combines college-based learning with work-based training. The first six months involves training, followed by 12 months working for three days a week at a designated company’s office with two days’ college work. For the final six months of the course, participants work a four-day week and spend one day a week in college.

The programme specialises in two fields: software development and network engineering. Accenture has taken five software development apprentices from the ICTAP programme, two of whom are in their first six months at the company, with the remainder coming into their final six months. The FIT participants are working across a variety of roles including standard development, business analysis and testing.

What has become very clear to us is that this is a viable alternative route to getting good people. The programme has people with good skillsets but who would not necessarily fall into the graduate category and so FIT is helping us effectively broaden our capacity to access top talent. We are getting very good people who are reskilling in technology and are looking to take a different career path.

We have found that the ICTAP interns are very mature when they come in because they have already spent several years working in other industries. What is evident is that they bring a different way of thinking because they have that experience. This is incredibly valuable for Accenture which prides itself on the diversity of its people as we seek to innovate for our clients.

The competition for technology talent is well documented and it is refreshing to know that an organisation like FIT has spotted an opportunity in the employment market place to fill the gaps that traditional recruiting methods do not meet. Not only has it spotted that gap and put very talented candidates onto its ICTAP programme, but its approach to working with employers is second to none. We are still in the early stages of this pilot but Accenture’s experience with the FIT ICTAP programme has been overwhelmingly positive to date and we look forward to building on our relationship with FIT into the future.

 

Mark Jeffers is software engineering manager with Accenture Ireland.

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