SUNDERLAND Software City believes apprentices are an excellent way for software companies to develop the next generation of software talent.
According to statistics from the Data Service, the number of students starting information and communication technology apprenticeships rose from 12,570 to 19,520 in the 2010/11 academic year, and research by the National Skills Academy for IT shows the rate of satisfaction among employees offering IT and telecoms apprenticeships is at 90%.
David Dunn, chief executive of Sunderland Software City, said: “Apprenticeships are a great way for employers in the software sector to tap into the wealth of young talent we have here in the North East.
“There is an obvious link between new technologies and inspiring young minds, so it is important that employers do all they can to encourage the next generation of software talent by supporting initiatives like The Journal 100 Apprentices in 100 Days campaign.”
Among the companies embracing apprenticeships is The Test Factory, which has three on its books and is hungry for more. The Sunderland company brought in Eve Rodgers, 17, Connor Hall, 19, and Masuma Begum, 17, who have all turned to apprenticeships to get a crucial advantage in the jobs market.
Rodgers said: “For me, A-levels were just far too structured and didn’t give me the opportunity to experience different areas of learning.
“The apprenticeship allows me to gain experience in the workplace, as well as get a taste of a variety of roles that will hopefully lead to a long and successful career.
“I really believe that doing an apprenticeship in such a growing industry will give me an advantage.”
Kevin Beales, managing director at The Test Factory, said: “Apprenticeships represent a great opportunity for us to develop staff from the ground up, ensuring that they are prepared for the world of work once they have completed their training.
“We will definitely be looking to bring on more apprentices over the coming years as the business continues to grow.”
Newcastle-based app developer and technology investment firm Ground Six has brought in Sean Irving, 20, and Iain Holmes, 17, to assist its workforce.
Sarah Armstrong, director at Ground Six, said: “We chose Sean and Iain because their course work showed a lot of potential and illustrated the right mix of creativity and enterprise that we were looking for.
“As Ground Six is very much an ideas-led company, it was important that we were able to find apprentices who were able to grow with the business.
“Hiring an apprentice means that you’re working with a blank canvas, which can sometimes make it easier to integrate them into the business than if they had went on to further education or experienced other ways of working.”