50 Jobs in 50 Days: Fujitsu backs bid for apprentices
IT company to create nine training posts for NVQ 3 level students
IT company Fujitsu has signed up to the Belfast Telegraph's campaign, 50 Jobs in 50 Days, with a pledge to create nine apprenticeships for its operations in Londonderry and Belfast.
The international firm said it would take on the apprentices in software development and infrastructure support later this year as part of the Department for Employment and Learning's ICT apprenticeship programme.
It has 800 employees around Northern Ireland, with its main Fujitsu Services branch in Holywood Road in Belfast, and other premises in Londonderry and Antrim.
The firm was lauded at the Apprenticeship and Training Awards 2013 for its commitment to providing work experience and employment to apprentices on training programmes.
Over the course of 21 months, the new intake of apprentices will work at Fujitsu four days a week and spend one day on study at Belfast Metropolitan – and talks are also taking place with North West Regional College about day release for students there.
They will receive a formal NVQ 3 qualification at the end.
The company said: "For Fujitsu, it's about building the skills of future workforce, and they are committed to working closely with education providers to ensure skills young people are learning are relevant to the workplace."
Fujitsu apprenticeships manager, Rosemary Burgess, said: "This is our third year doing this, and there are a variety of reasons why we started the programme.
"It's difficult sometimes to find candidates who have the skills you require. Graduates may have an IT degree but not all the skills you require – but with putting someone through an apprenticeship, you can develop your own skills in them so that they can deliver your services.
"Plus, in the 18-to-24-year-old group, unemployment is very high and I feel that if you don't get people on the path of work and that regime early on, it can get even worse for them. It could be your child or my child tomorrow."
The recruitment scheme is run through the civil service, and candidates will face an aptitude test to see if they have a knack for IT.
However, as many as 600 apply at the initial stage – and while it's a competitive process, Ms Burgess said it was a worthwhile scheme for young people to consider.
"If you don't get good enough A-Levels because you don't know at the time that it's about your future, or weren't particularly hard-working at school, this is a second opportunity – or even for those who can't afford to go to university. I'm really delighted with it."
The previous intake has gone on to permanent jobs in the company, though Ms Burgess cautioned that there was no guarantee of a permanent job at the end of an apprenticeship. The Department for Employment and Learning funds the cost of the apprentice training, a system which Ms Burgess said she strongly approved of.
She praised Belfast Metropolitan College for its work in the scheme. "Universities want to give employers what they need, but they can't change their courses very quickly. But on a scheme like this, Belfast Met can change their courses to meet the demands of employers more quickly. That is really quite useful.
"Universities may be very keen to react but it can take years to get there. You need to be able to adopt to the needs very quickly."
How your firm can get involved
Over the next seven weeks, this newspaper will galvanise companies of all sizes in Northern Ireland to take on apprentices as a means of investing in the future of the youth, while helping hone the skills businesses need to thrive in the future.
The Belfast Telegraph will work with companies, colleges and the Department for Employment and Learning to create 50 apprenticeships in 50 days – a target it will reach by May 1.
1 If you are an employer who would like to take on an apprentice as part of our campaign, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 You can also contact the Department for Employment and Learning to find out about the apprenticeship system in Northern Ireland, on 0800 028 4161.
3 You can find your apprentice by advertising in the usual way through the press or job centres or by going to a training supplier, which will have details of young people looking for apprentices.
4The Department for Employment and Learning will fund the costs of the 'off-the-job' training in all apprentice frameworks for the under-25s. Those over 25 will have 50% of their training paid for – but only if they are training in one of a defined list of economically important sectors, which includes the food and drink industry, IT companies and creative and digital media operations.
5An incentive payment is also offered to employers of apprentices who successfully complete the programme.