Graduates from the first Spring IT course are working in services alongside experienced colleagues after career retraining, four months after the services company launched its initiative.
Spring, formerly CRT Group, launched its recruitment and training drive in a bid to attract up to 2,000 additional IT professionals in November 1997 to overcome the IT shortage. The first recruits began training in March.
Ian West, head of the training arm at Spring, said the first 60 graduates had been shifted to services and were working alongside contractors.
But other training companies spoken to by PC Dealer have criticised Spring's efforts to retrain farmers, lawyers, soldiers and a keep-fit instructor as IT professionals. One company executive said: 'There is little difference between the inside of a cow and the inside of a network - depending on the network, of course.'
But West said the trained staff were competent and customers were satisfied with the graduates. 'It's a bold move. The industry always fishes from the same pond and the salaries just grow,' he said.
A recent Holway Report revealed 44,000 additional staff had entered the IT market but the average salary remained the same. This reflected lower paid, lesser experienced staff entering the market, offsetting the increasingly high figures paid to specialist consultants.
Spring received 17,000 requests for application forms to join the programme and 5,000 applications. About 120 are currently in the training pipeline with the average student male and aged 25-40. About 15 per cent were female, which Spring said reflected the balance in applications.
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