ICT Associate Professional programme “a gateway to the tech sector,” says FIT’s Ryan
Anthony Carroll is one of a growing number of people who have taken the FIT ICT Associate Professional (ICTAP) programme as a gateway into the technology sector. He had previously worked in the construction industry before deciding to change career path. “I was looking to migrate into the IT industry and this gave me a platform to work off, both with practical skills and work experience,” he says.
FIT is a non-profit organisation with a remit to develop learning programmes on behalf of industry, so they are designed to be relevant to that sector’s demands. FIT developed the ICTAP programme in response to a skills audit of jobs in the ICT sector two years ago, which uncovered a need for entry-level roles across the industry. The agency estimates that the ICT sector in Ireland will have more than 10,000 additional new job openings per year in the short to medium term.
ICTAP aims to attract job seekers from a range of different backgrounds into the technology and communications sectors. The course is focused on two areas: software development and network engineering. It lasts for two years and combines college-based learning with work-based training that includes paid internships. The first cycle of the programme is due to finish in May 2017. After the programme, candidates will be awarded a Level 6 qualification, which FIT says will position them well for a career in a technology role across any sector.
Companies of SAP’s size have a high demand for skilled recruits and they supplement their hiring efforts with their own internship programmes and by working with third-level institutions to provide interns.
“The course is focused on two areas: software development and network engineering. It lasts for two years and combines college-based learning with work-based training that includes paid internships”
The ICTAP initiative is highly regarded by FIT chairman Liam Ryan, who is also managing director of the Irish operation at SAP. The software company sponsored nine people from the programme, including Anthony Carroll. “Within SAP, I was given the opportunity to show the skills I had learned on the course, both hard and soft skills – programming skills and communication skills,” he says.
“I was also given the opportunity to work in a number of departments within SAP, so it’s given me a broad knowledge of SAP as a company, as a whole. I feel that through the FIT ICTAP programme, I have motivated myself to push for further education and to fulfil my potential,” Anthony adds.
Liam Ryan says SAP’s experience of ICTAP has been “really positive”. “It is effectively a two-year interview for those candidates, but the really good thing about the people is, they’re motivated, either for career change reasons or for a career in IT, either in systems and networks or software development. We find it to be 90 per cent of the battle when people know exactly what they want to do and they’ve made that choice,” he says.
In addition to SAP, FIT has 100 companies in Ireland who are sponsoring 160 participants in the pilot ICTAP programme. The companies include Accenture, Fujitsu, IBM, Microsoft and PFH.
George Ryan is COO of FIT