Nescot College in Ewell showed its influence as a foremost IT trainer on Friday May 25 when Employment Minister Chris Grayling and BBC Apprentice contestant Azhar Siddique joined the college’s Head of Computing Sage Lal to host the ABC industry forum, a think-tank for the future of Britain’s Accounting, Business and Computing industries involvement in education.
The think-tank, which was made up of Educators and IT, Business and Accountancy leaders, met to discuss the future needs and directions of industry at a time when demand for IT qualified employees have risen by 11 per cent, despite the stagnation of the job market in the UK.
‘It is vital that these industries, which have the power to lift the UK out of the downturn, are provided with the resources they need to succeed. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure that, as trainers of the next generation of business leaders, we are working with industry to make sure we equip our students with the skills, knowledge and technical experience to meet the demands of tomorrow,’ said Sage Lal, Nescot Head of Computing.
In addition to discussions about training needs and the future of industry, think-tank members were given talks by apprentices from Nescot to explain the journey they had taken and the benefits they now brought to their employers, a presentation by Azhar Siddique, BBC The Apprentice candidate and an open question and answer session on the government’s priorities for apprenticeships with Employment Minister Chris Grayling. Comments relating to the organisation of funding for smaller companies taking on their first apprentice were relayed directly to Grayling’s colleagues and a solution was rapidly implemented.
IT Apprentice Chris Doherty, who works as a software programmer with Avis Soft and impressed the delegates with his eloquent and entertaining explanation of the benefits of a higher level apprenticeship in IT versus an academic, classroom-based approach, said,
‘With something as fast moving and solutions focused as computing, there is no contest between the chance to get a degree while spending two years at the cutting edge of industry and getting the same qualification without ever leaving a classroom. I know who I’d rather hire if I was the boss!’
Delegates from companies including:
- Spedi – Norcon
- Avis Soft
- Infuse IT
- Interactive Laser Inks
- Portico Consulting
- Pulse Software
- The Skills Funding Agency
- Business IT Systems Ltd
The delegates enjoyed lively discussion sessions, led by E-Resourcing, looking at issues like the recruitment of more women in IT roles, industry needs and skills shortages, and the gap between teaching of IT in schools and universities and the more useful, industry-facing approach of colleges. The think-tank was also able to tour the Worldskills IT heats, which were being held at the college on the same day.
Apprentice contestant Siddique, who was so keen to support the aims of the think-tank he flew down from Manchester for the afternoon, was impressed to find a college going to such lengths to ensure their students are fit for industry.
‘I attended Nescot as a guest speaker for a think-tank in which IT and Business leaders discussed the future of the industry and its skills needs. I also had the chance to see the WorldSkills UK computing event. This is a very passionate and forward thinking college which is extremely proactive in ensuring it exceeds the future training and education requirements for its students,’ he said.
For Sage Lal the think-tank had proved extremely fruitful with delegates able to take clear actions to safeguard the future of their industries.
‘Through the discussions here today, we have discovered precisely what we need to be teaching our students for them to have the highest possible economic impact when they enter the workforce. Industry professionals have discovered that educators can be highly responsive to their needs and have had the chance to relay their concerns to government; while politicians were able to explain their funding and legislation priorities and hear about the impact of their policies on the ground. The work we have done here today will, of course benefit our students and those of the other educators present, but will also bring lasting benefits to the industries we serve,’ he said.