HP wants to forge closer ties with the UK education sector to help more than 20,000 people develop better IT skills over the next four years.
The hardware giant outlined its plans at the launch of the HP Institute, an initiative that will see the vendor work with education establishments across the UK to bolster the IT skills of UK plc, at the Science Museum in central London yesterday.
Speaking at the event, Nick Wilson, UK and Ireland managing director of HP, said the scheme was being introduced to help close the IT skills gap and assist its partners with finding higher-quality staff.
"Over the next four years in the UK [we want to] add and retrain 20,000 folk with proper IT skills... so channel partners, end users and [HP] can get better access to better-qualified, highly skilled IT folk and bridge some of that skills gap," explained Wilson.
"I do not think it is good enough for the industry to stand by and say the skills coming out of schools, universities and apprenticeship schemes are not good enough. We have to get involved."
The programme aims to educate students in "industry-standard technologies", as well as those from HP, and will feature coursework, hands-on labs and practical tests.
The course content will be divided into two streams: business and technology, to ensure participants understand how IT can be used to solve business problems.
"It is not just about developing pure technical people. One of the things we have observed is that you have to be able to apply your technical skills into a business environment," explained Wilson.
"A lot of the criticism we had for the [soon to be scrapped] GCSE ICT syllabus was that it was just pure technical stuff."
Students who complete the course will be awarded with an HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) qualification and will receive help finding employment within the vendor's 8,000-strong UK partner network.
"One of the biggest complaints of our channel partners is that they cannot get access to really highly qualified, good staff," said Wilson.
"[For smaller partners] it is really hard for some to create skills when they cannot afford to and, as the largest IT company in the UK, it is really important that we step forward on that and try to help."
The plans have won the backing of business secretary Vince Cable (pictured). In a press statement, he said: "It is this government's desire to improve technology education in the UK and the IT industry and companies like HP can play an important role in growing the UK talent pool.
"The UK workforce stands to gain from initiatives such as the Institute programme which will help provide strategic direction and ensure that companies have the right skills to grow in this rapidly changing world," he added.
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