A new IT apprenticeship pilot scheme rolled out by Microsoft has received a warm welcome in the West Midlands.
Hi-tech experts say the training scheme can play a key role in the future for the regional economy as the downturn continues.
Andy Dent, managing director of Jewellery Quarter-based business Innovit, said the initiative would bridge the skills and qualification gap which currently plagued IT firms and other organisations in the region.
Mr Dent said: “We have vacancies to fill but have struggled to recruit the right calibre of skilled IT professionals in the past because they are in very short supply.
“The scheme is helping us develop a strategy where we can grow our own talent within the business because apprentices will obtain credible and relevant qualifications whilst at the same time learning the practical skills of an IT professional on the job.
“Schemes such as this should be encouraged because it is vital that the West Midlands nurtures and retains talented people within the region to support the continued growth of the IT and related sectors.”
Richard Corcoran, who hails from Castle Bromwich, is just one example of a beneficiary of the new scheme.
He left school in 1996 with three GCSEs (C-D) and is now a 30-year-old father of two. He had a passion for IT from a very early age but starting a family young meant his career ambitions were curtailed.
He became a scaffolder to support his family, but after more than six years in the trade the recession has begun to take its toll.
Finding out about the new Microsoft IT Apprenticeship was just the opportunity Richard needed and he jumped at the chance.
Richard was looking for a paid position so he could still support his family and an opportunity which meant he could finally follow his dream and get recognised qualifications in an area he was passionate about.
The initiative has enabled Microsoft to bring together all relevant parties to create a truly flexible Apprenticeship scheme that works for employers, apprentices and training providers.
The pilot in the West Midlands is part of a wider planned national roll-out.