After raising national awareness of the need for better career advice for school leavers at the House of Commons in February, Iain Stewart visited Computacenter accompanied by a Year 12 pupil of Aylesbury High School as part of national Takeover Day to see their commitment to education first hand.
National Takeover day competition winner Folu Ogunyeye from Monkston won the opportunity to experience the life of an MP for one day. Takeover Day is a national event led by the Children’s Commissioner of England, and offers the chance for young people to enter a competition to become a senior civic figure for the day.
Folu along with Iain Stewart met with IT apprentices including Adam Robinson (pictured), Kreston Edgehill, Jake Parker and many others who wanted to impress on the visitors how the Computacenter apprenticeship programme helped them embark on a career in technology.
Folu, said: “I wanted to take part in Takeover Day to learn more about how politics functions in my local community. It has been a very enriching experience and a wonderful opportunity to spend the day with Iain Stewart, getting insight into the duties of an MP.
“The visit to Computacenter has been really interesting. It’s very inspiring to hear the apprentices’ stories and I’ve learned all about the benefits of an apprenticeship as an alternate form of education.”
The UK’s digital industry is now worth £161 billion and supports more than 1.5 million jobs.
It is expected that by 2020 almost 2.3 million people will need to be trained to meet the demand for digital skills.
Computacenter at Linford Wood and Bletchley has been working with Baltic Training Services to recruit 123 apprentices so far, with 60 given full time roles in the last six months.
Iain Stewart, said: “I have been very vocal in the past about the need for better career advice for young people, in particular changing public opinion on apprenticeships and demonstrating that they are a valid option for young people looking to develop a career.
“Visiting Computacenter has been an encouraging experience. As well as making much needed IT apprenticeships available to young people in Milton Keynes, they are committed to ensuring that their apprentices are prepared for full time employment once the qualification ends.
“I commend them for the service they are providing to young people and the IT industry in Milton Keynes so far, and thank them for continuing to contribute to our strong record of expanding apprenticeship opportunities.”
As well as gaining valuable workplace experience in IT and customer service, apprentices at Computacenter will gain the qualifications needed to kick start their career with on-site training delivered by Computacenter partner Baltic Training Services.
Louise Ball, Executive Director for Baltic Training Services, who works closely with Computacenter to deliver the IT apprenticeships,said: “It’s been a great honour to be host to Iain Stewart today and hear about his commitment to apprenticeships and career advice for school leavers.
“With the continued need for talented and highly motivated people in the IT industry it’s encouraging to see that our commitment to developing the next generation of professionals is not going unnoticed.
“We’ve experienced great success so far in working together to create 123 jobs in IT for young people in the Milton Keynes area and are looking forward to continuing to provide career opportunities to talented individuals in the region.”
Louise Fletcher, global service desk head of training at Computacenter, said: “We are delighted that Iain Stewart MP has shown such an interest in our business and in particular our apprenticeship scheme and how it gives young people a great route in to start a successful career in technology.”
If you would like more information on Computacenter, or to apply for an apprenticeship, you can visit www.tinyurl.com/computacenterapprenticeship, or call Baltic Training Services on 01325 731050 .
17 year old Kreston Edghill, from Milton Keynes, has recently been named runner up in the support category of Microsoft’s Apprentice of the Year 2016 competition – which aims to celebrate exceptional talent – coming second out of 6,000 UK IT apprentices.
He said: “I was really pleased to place in the Microsoft Apprentice of the Year competition because it shows that all of the hard work I’ve put in towards a career in IT has been recognised.
“The fact that it was my managers who nominated me makes it even better, because I know that they can see the effort that I make on a day to day basis and it’s great to see that they appreciate the work that the apprentices do.”
Kreston has completed his apprenticeship and now works for Computacenter as a first line technical analyst delivering support to the staff of a globally recognised bank, in order to complete the practical side of his qualification.
He said: “I’ve never been overly interested in IT. I can work my phone and laptop on a day to day basis and could fix any common problems using troubleshooting programmes and online tutorials, but it’s not something I ever saw myself doing for a living.
“When I was leaving school I knew that I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I don’t like exams and would rather be doing something practical. I saw a vacancy advertised through Computacenter and thought I would apply to see what it was like.
“The pre-apprenticeship hub was great because it gave me a chance to see what the role involved and how the training would be delivered before I committed to the role. Even though some people in the classroom were really technically minded and had a lot of experience in IT, the hub put my mind at ease by creating a level playing field.
“With the apprenticeship you can learn at your own speed. It doesn’t matter if you already know loads about IT, or if like me you don’t have as much experience, because the course is designed to teach you the skills you need to do your job.
“I was sitting the same exams as the apprentices that already knew a lot about IT and knew the answers already, but because of the training delivered by Computacenter and Baltic Training Services I felt prepared and that I knew everything I needed to so that I could pass.”
On a day to day basis, Kreston answers calls from the globally recognised bank’s staff who encounter problems with their technology.
He said: “The role itself involves a lot of customer service as well as the IT side of things. I basically act as the first point of contact to support the staff by either fixing the problem if it’s something simple, or passing their query to the relevant person to get it resolved. I’ve also started becoming involved with some pro-active project work which I’m really enjoying.”
Jake Parker, 20, has already experienced success after completing Computacenter’s IT apprenticeship programme last year.
Jake suffers from congenital myopathy, which means that he has to plan his days very carefully or risk subjecting himself to agonising bone breaks that could result in being house bound for weeks. He’s also physically weaker so cannot walk unaided too far without tiring.
Last year, his employer Computacenter and training provider Baltic Training Services supported him by organising a fund raiser, identify some existing funds and by generally being proactive in removing barriers to help get Jake a high tech wheel chair worth several thousand pounds that makes him much more mobile.
Ever since then Jake has been working full time as a first line analyst for Computacenter, offering IT service desk solutions to clients. As a result of the on-site full time IT apprenticeship he has managed to pass his driving test and buy himself a car.
He said: “If I didn’t pick up opportunities, like the apprenticeship, I wouldn’t be in the fortunate position that I’m in. The support I’ve received from Computacenter and Baltic Training Services is fantastic. They’ve opened up a world of possibility for me and without them I wouldn’t have my chair or my car, which has greatly improved my independence.
“Not many people my age have a career, a car and a company that is willing to help you. I hope by living my life the way I am I can inspire other people who perhaps are living with a long term condition.
“For a 20 year old to have such a supportive family, employer and training provider; I know I’m very, very lucky.”
Jake is aiming to become a manager with Computacenter by this time next year and is looking forward to a long and successful career in IT.