FIT broadens skills access and opportunities with new partnership

Minister for Training and Skills John Halligan TD.

5 July 2016

Training and skills organisation FIT has launched new partnership with JP Morgan, a partnership to widen access and support diversity through the FIT ICT Associate Professional programme.

With support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, FIT said it is aiming to attract women and men from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in ICT, as demand grows for skilled entrants.

The FIT ICT Associate Professional programme is aimed at those who have an interest in and a passion for technology, but perhaps have not had the opportunities to develop those interests, either academically or professionally.

The programme provides training and experience in software development and network engineering. The dual education nature of the courses, combining college-based learning with work-based training, broadens the choices available to people, says FIT, particularly those who favour learning by doing. Candidates gain a qualification that will position them well for a career in a technology role across any sector.

Currently, said FIT chairperson and MD of SAP Ireland, Liam Ryan, there are 4,000 in FIT-supported programmes throughout the country. To date, more than 17,500 have completed FIT’s skills programmes, with more than 13,000 progressing into employment.

Harnessing efforts
At an event in the Clock Tower in the Department of Education in Dublin, Minister for Training and Skills present John Halligan TD officially launched the partnership, pledging his support for the work of FIT.

“The collaboration between FIT, JP Morgan, the ICT industry and Education and Training Boards (ETB) is an example of how we can harness our joint efforts and create excellent opportunities for people to gain skills and thereby enter quality careers. I am particularly pleased with the inclusive approach adopted by FIT and commend and welcome the support for this from JP Morgan. This type of initiative complements the existing actions in the ICT Action Plan and I will follow with great interest the progress of the initiative and the lessons we can learn from it.”

The Minister emphasised that demand is such in the high tech industry in Ireland that the output of third level graduates and beyond cannot be relied upon alone to meet demand. He said that such a move would “leave thousands behind”.

Programme graduates
Two graduates of the programme spoke of their experiences leading up to and after their FIT engagements. Shara O’Toole had been a fully qualified and working hairdresser when the salon in which she was employed closed down. Having had various office administration jobs since, she had been exposed to and realised an aptitude for all things ICT. Having, through FIT, achieved FETAC level 5 & 6 qualifications in both Microsoft and Cisco environments in the systems and networks tracks, she now works on the support desk for Fujitsu. O’Toole emphasised that her qualifications alone, though impressive, were insufficient to get a job. She said that FIT’s work placements allowed her to gain the experience she needed to complement those qualifications.

Anthony Carroll had trained as an architectural technician and worked with a construction firm, however, the recession left him facing redundancy. With a slight change in focus toward property management, he again faced redundancy a few years later and made the decision to capitalise on his ICT skills through FIT. Carroll now works for SAP Ireland in its enterprise support services. With a different situation every day, Carroll said he thrives on the diversity of the job.

This was a point picked up on by Paul Sweetman, director, ICT Ireland. Sweetman emphasised that those who come through the likes of apprenticeship based programmes, and the dual vocational programmes such as the FIT ICT AP, often have the ability to cope with ambiguity and fluid situations thanks to life and work experience from outside the sector.

Game changer
“Ireland has had incredible success in establishing a vibrant multinational and indigenous tech sector, but we can’t take future success for granted. Competitor economies are upping their game and we need to compete aggressively. The ICT Associate Professional is a game changer and will enable Ireland to become a global technology powerhouse. Today’s partnership between FIT and JP Morgan strongly reinforces this ambition,” said Sweetman.

“FIT is delighted that JP Morgan is supporting FIT to broaden opportunity for smart people with smart skills,” said Peter Davitt, CEO, FIT. “Over the last 15 years, FIT has supported people from diverse backgrounds to enter the tech sector and build great careers. Developing this new ‘earn and learn’ route is already proving to be a success and is made possible with the active collaboration and support of SOLAS, ETBI, ICT Ireland and the participating ETBs in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Athlone, Monaghan and Dundalk.”



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