BELFAST Metropolitan College’s (Belfast Met) IT apprenticeship programme is helping students get the skills they need to forge a successful career in the booming IT sector.
An example of one such student is Shane Toner. Three years ago Shane had zero ICT qualifications, yet thanks to Belfast Met’s IT apprenticeship programme, he has become a high performing software developer at ICT company Fujitsu – winning a number of awards along the way.
The secret of his success is the renowned Public Private Apprenticeship Scheme, an intensive programme that allows trainees to enter the workplace on day one and ‘earn as they learn’.
The scheme, designed by Belfast Met in partnership with the Department for the Economy and industry to address Northern Ireland’s IT skills gap, pairs students up with companies such as Fujitsu, Capita, the Northern Ireland Civil Service, the PSNI, Dale Farm and Randox Laboratories.
NI Apprenticeship Programme Manager at Fujitsu, Louise Hull explained: “With the ongoing transformation of digital technology and the benefits it brings across society and the economy, we want applicants who are ready to embrace digital and the opportunities therein.
“We work closely with government and educational providers to ensure apprentices gain the digital acumen and real life experience needed for a career in the ever evolving technology sector while also helping develop IT leaders of the future who understand our business.”
As part of the scheme apprentices study one day a week in Belfast Met while gaining hands-on, paid experience in the workplace during the other four days.
Twenty six year old Shane was pondering his next step after studying Physics at Queen’s University Belfast when he spotted an ad for the Apprenticeship Scheme in the Job Centre.
“I had some experience in writing code, but nothing in terms of ICT and the apprenticeship scheme looked like a great way to get a head start in the sector,” he said.
After applying for the Apprenticeship Programme and following a series of aptitude tests Shane was successful in gaining a position with Fujitsu at their North West base.
He was named ‘IT Apprentice of the Year’ with Belfast Met and has quickly progressed to software developer with Fujitsu, winning eight internal awards over the last two years.