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Plugging the IT security skills gap

Working with University Technical Colleges and the IT and cyber security on a new initiative aimed at 'growing our own' talent

Plugging the IT security skills gap

06/12/2018

Computacenter is delighted to be working with University Technical Colleges (UTCs) across the UK, and our peers in the IT and cyber security industry, on a new initiative – the UTC Cyber Group.

With the explosion in demand for cyber security services and an estimated 600,000 vacancies in digital technology (costing the country £63 billion a year)*, the UK skills gap is undeniably a serious threat to our industry. We have long recognised the importance of ‘growing our own’ at Computacenter, with our award-winning Future Talent programme, offering everything from work experience for the youngest students, through school and college outreach programmes, to university placement programmes and post-graduate associate schemes. And so we are really pleased to add a new string to our bow, focussing on the exciting challenge of preparing 14-19 year olds at University Technical College for the cyber security roles of today … and tomorrow.

“With the ever-increasing use of mobile and smart technology, consumers’ expectations of being always connected means the pressure increases daily for the industry to be several steps ahead of the cyber criminal” explains Keith Jones, Computacenter’s Networking and Security Practice Manager “and who better to invest in, in our bid to stay that step ahead than the next generation of IT professionals?”

Mike Halliday, business relations manager at UTC Reading, UTC Heathrow, and UTC Swindon, and co-founder of the UTC Cyber Group commented “Working with Keith to explore how Computacenter could support the UTC movement and define how our students could benefit from his team’s expertise, it was clear from the outset that our we held the same values. The structure of the Future Talent programme is exactly what industry needs to be doing to accelerate skills development”.

Along with a prestigious list of IT and cyber security specialists, Computacenter will work alongside Watford UTC to support around 30 young people and their lecturers over three years in a series of practical and academic workshops both at the college and at Computacenter’s head office in Hatfield.

Keith’s enthusiasm for the scheme is infectious. “This age group is a new audience for us, and I’m keen that we should learn from them as well; we want to know what they want to get out of the programme, how today’s digital native is inspired and motivated – after all, we want to engage them in the programme but we also want to be ready for them as the next wave of Computacenter employee”.

Keith talks of Computacenter as a ‘destination employer’ – so what makes the company stand out from the crowd? “we are vendor agnostic” he explains “so we can offer experience in a huge range of technologies in the cyber security market, which means our customers get the solution which is right for their needs, and the young people we meet on the UTC programme will gain experience in that same wide range. Add to that our breadth of services at Computacenter, the students will have the chance to look at a broad variety of opportunity, getting a flavour, amongst other areas, of traditional IT supply services but also consultancy, operational support and managed services”.

“With our mantra to ‘be relevant, be brilliant and keep winning’, working with the UTCs is a perfect fit for us” says Craig Cobb, Future Talent lead at Computacenter. “The UTC is an innovative alternative to a technical education giving students practical, technical and academic qualifications which are sought after in our industry. We are continuously adjusting our Future Talent schemes to match the needs of the market with the aspirations of today’s youth”.

Paul Quinn, associate principal at Watford UTC, said “This is profound employer engagement at its best – building a talent pipeline. The partnership has already created a buzz amongst staff and students at Watford UTC, and this new relationship supports the UTC’s commitment to delivering a quality technical education, particularly in the cyber arena. With a number of security vendors and service providers that support the UTC Cyber Group, we are thrilled to be working with Computacenter”.

“This really is a win-win situation” concludes Keith. “The students get real-world industry experience and exposure in one of the largest and fastest growing markets, and the opportunity to build a relationship with a multi-national corporation while we get to both learn from and influence the up-coming generation of IT professional.”

You can find out more about the programme and Computacenter’s involvement by contacting keith.jones@computacenter.com.

Alternatively, discover more on how Computacenter is investing in the UK's future tech talent.

* Source: The Edge Foundation (2018), Skill Shortages in the UK Economy


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