Zenos - Europe's largest Microsoft IT Academy - is to set up new IT academies in Birmingham and Telford later this year.
Funded through the Government's Learning and Skills Council, the Zenos Academies are aimed at 16 to 19 year-olds who want to work in the IT industry.
Zenos says Birmingham and Telford have been chosen as venues because of the demand for good quality IT support staff within the West Midlands.
The academies will be enrolling students during August 2006 and are each offering 30 places to candidates who already have or expect to receive four GCSEs and pass a Zenos aptitude test.
At no financial cost, once accepted, each student will undergo a five-month, full-time structured programme, where they will complete 60 per cent of Zenos' Advanced IT Apprenticeship - an IT qualification including certifications from industry giants Microsoft and Cicso.
During the first 12 months of the employment-phase of the programme, the students will gain further valuable industry qualifications and complete their apprenticeship.
At the end of the initial five-month training period, Zenos will assist candidates in finding places in IT employ-ment through its close relationship with Connexions and existing customers including Fujitsu, HP and Xerox.
The Zenos programme also encompasses business acumen and key personal skills including time management and organisation. Candidates will gain business experience such as managing meetings, drafting reports and writing emails, as well as an under-standing of customer service.
Interview techniques and interactive skills will also be taught, which will help students to gain employment and succeed in a career in IT.
George Anderson, director of Zenos, said: "These days, IT companies are crying out for young people who not only have qualifications and an aptitude for IT, but also have good communication and business skills.
"A candidate who is able to interact professionally in a business situation is always more likely to succeed in a job interview.
"Our Academy aims to provide a rounded programme for students to give them a real head start in their IT careers."
Overall, Zenos manages the sometimes tricky transition from school to work and provides real-world qualifications and experience before the young people enter work.
Founded in 2001, Zenos is a national IT training company funded through the Government's Learning and Skills Council.
Based in Aynho in Oxfordshire and with IT training academies across the UK, it has more than 1,000 trainees on its courses.
The company works with a host of blue-chip companies, including Fujitsu, Xerox, Synstar HP and Cap Gemini to provide high quality IT training. ..SUPL: