South West College, Co Fermanagh, has launched Northern Ireland’s first higher level ‘earn while you learn’ ICT apprenticeship scheme as a pilot programme.
The initial programme has 20 ICT-certified apprenticeships on offer, giving participants a combination of professional and technical qualifications and on-the-job learning.
Apprentices will be employed from the day they start the programme, which has been designed to meet critical industry needs and to fast track participants towards roles that are in high demand, such as software and web development, desktop support, infrastructure support, server support and cloud development.
Learning will take place at the college, on the job and online, with students developing the skills and competencies required by employers while completing a Level 4 NVQ diploma in professional competence. A Microsoft-certified technical specialist accreditation is also offered to participants as an enhancement.
“The Microsoft enhancement, which is a globally recognised accreditation, is an exciting development which provides an international endorsement of our work,” said South West College director Malachy McAleer.
Benefiting the Northern Ireland economy
“South West College is also advancing dynamic links with local innovative industry so that they can compete locally, nationally and internationally,” he added. “Through our involvement with the Chinese Confucius Institute, for example, and our e-learning links with colleges in the US, we are building new bridges to important markets. We are proactively preparing talent with skills that are critically needed now, and will help Northern Ireland to advance on the global stage.”
The ICT sector remains a strong growth area for Northern Ireland and employs more than 16,500 people, with wages generally exceeding the private-sector average.
McAvoy Group, Concept NI, Computer Centre, Meteor Electrical Ltd, and MJH Insurance have already signed up to take on apprentices from the programme, which is funded by the Northern Ireland Department for Employment and Learning.