Alan Sugar, apprenticeships and ICT

The introduction of the National Apprenticeship Scheme combined with the announcement that 24 new technical universities are to be built, gives one feeling that the Coalition Government is serious about raising a generation of technical...

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The introduction of the National Apprenticeship Scheme combined with the announcement that 24 new technical universities are to be built, gives one feeling that the Coalition Government is serious about raising a generation of technical professionals. Naturally I wondered how the computer industry is fairing in supplying young people with training opportunities. This is apposite given the selection of odd facts below: 1) British Computer Professionals are the least likely of any profession to have a qualification in their area of expertise. 2) The UK produced fewer ICT graduates than any other major European country which may be just as well as they have lowest post-college employment figures. 3) Telephone support work increasingly dominates the IT jobs market. So what’s out there for the next generation? First prize must go Cisco who have been training young network engineers for years often in partnership with Microsoft’s Advanced Skills programs Microsoft gets the second prize as it partners the program above with hardware manufacturers Fujitsu and IBM who supply most of the Public Sector hardware. MS announced also this year that they had created 20 apprenticeships in London alone this year in response to the Coalition’s apprentice drive. Amongst the others Google offer Google Enterprise Apprenticeships.The Texan company EDS (part of HP) and Germany’s SAP do something similar. I stand to be corrected but I could find nothing for Dell, Oracle, Novel or indeed Ubuntu or Red Hat. Microsoft, and Red Hat do both support Operating System specific engineer qualifications. What does this tell us about our IT workers? Clearly there are two cultures in IT. One could be described as the entrepreneur-autodidact-Corinthian approach typified by companies like Oracle who enjoy an in-house Guru with a Classic Double First or Dell who seem to like the ‘anyone with guts can do anything’ approach. The other culture is the qualified professional culture. You rarely come across an IT pro from anywhere outside the EU block working in UK without a qualification in IT. The signs are that qualified IT workers will increase generally. This should be a good thing; maybe it’s a shame that if you do hire a qualified professional he or she will be likely to be Microsoft-trained in one way or another. But maybe we Brits prefer the educated amateur? It certainly improves the conversation at break times.

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