New ICT apprenticeship-style training programme for Irish enterprises under way, says Davitt of FIT

Peter Davitt, FIT

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27 July 2015 | 0

One of the most interesting and progressive new ICT training initiatives is now well under way in 17 enterprises around Ireland [see panel] which are sponsoring a total of 38 candidates in an earn-as-you-learn model that combines academic and practical workplace training. The ICT Associate Professional programme is a practical dual-education pathway to employment in technology for young people and a contribution to the IT skills shortage that is hampering the potential of many enterprises in Ireland.

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The programme has been developed by FIT, an industry-led initiative that has seen over 16,500 jobseekers complete its skills training since it was set up in 1999. Over 12,000 or 73% have progressed to relevant employment while there are 3,000 current participants in FIT training programmes.

The ICT Associate Professional is an ambitious new initiative involving two years of combined college and on-the-job skills development leading to a Diploma in ICT Technologies at QQI Level 6. It began a rolling start in March last on foot of a recommendation of the ICT Skills Audit published by FIT in 2013. That audit highlighted the range of skills in the gap. Everyone in ICT management knows there is rising demand for people with university degrees and doctorates. The media and our politicians tell us so often enough.

But there are actually more vacancies for people with practical IT skills at NFQ Level 5/6 and especially those with some work experience. About 5,000 of the approximately 7,000 current vacancies identified by the ICT Skills Audit are for employees at this level. It will not surprise TechPro readers that the respondents also stressed the need for all jobseekers, including graduates, to have a greater appreciation of the demands of business and the importance of real-life skills and applied learning through work experience.

That is precisely where the ICT Associate Professional training is focussed. Our aspiration is that the candidate numbers will increase to a level of 3,000 annually by about the third year of the programme. That suggests participation by about 1,200 or more sponsoring enterprises, ranging from SMEs to multinationals.

“The participants begin with six months in full-time college education but with agreed work placement sponsors. After that it is an ‘earn-as-you-learn’ model. We see this as a kind of modern apprenticeship with the traditional return to the sponsoring employer”

The participants begin with six months in full-time college education but with agreed work placement sponsors. After that it is an ‘earn-as-you-learn’ model — they work for three days a week, two days in college, until the final six months when they work a four-day week with just one education day. We see this as a kind of modern apprenticeship with the traditional return to the sponsoring employer. You are developing a skilled person to add to the pool in your industry. That person is not unskilled starting with you and can be productive very quickly having completed six intensive training months before starting. You also have the definite possibility that you will gain a valuable employee who will be thoroughly familiar with your business, colleagues and customers.

FIT is supported by a range of industry partners which includes our leading ICT enterprises and partners in education and training such as SOLAS, ETBs (formerly VEC), Leargas, Local Authorities and third level institutions. If you are an employer interested in learning more about the ICT Associate Professional programme and its opportunities, see www.FIT.ie

Peter Davitt is chief executive officer of FIT

 

 

ICT Associate Professional ProgrammeThe 38 candidates in the first ICTAP programme are in two streams—Systems & Networks and Software Development. The sponsoring employers are:

Accenture, AOL Ireland, AQ Metrics, Central Bank, ESB, Fujitsu, IBM, Kantan MT, Matrix, Microsoft, Salmon Software, SAP, Stanley Security, Surecom, Version 1, Comsys, Micropro.

Initial courses were held in May in the Finglas Training Centre and Ringsend College of Further Education. Further courses will take place in the Autumn in Cork, Longford-Westmeath and Cavan-Monaghan.

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